Rosberg sweeps to Singapore GP pole ahead of Ricciardo, Hamilton


Nico Rosberg will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole position after dominating Formula 1 qualifying under the lights at Marina Bay on Saturday night.

Rosberg arrived in Singapore trailing Mercedes teammate and title rival Lewis Hamilton by just two points in the drivers’ championship, having won the last two races.

The German stamped his authority on proceedings in Singapore by following up his fastest laps in FP2 and FP3 with pole position, seeing off the challenge from Hamilton and the Ferrari and Red Bull drivers.

Rosberg took provisional pole with his first run in Q3, a lap of 1:42.584 putting him seven-tenths of a second clear of Hamilton and over a second clear of the Red Bulls in P4 and P5. The gauntlet for the rest of the field had been laid down.

With none of his rivals able to improve on their second flying laps by a significant amount, Rosberg was able to revel in the 29th pole position of his F1 career.

Ricciardo found six-tenths of a second on his final lap to jump up to second ahead of Hamilton, who paid the price for a mistake at Turn 1 to finish third and missed out on his 100th front-row start in F1 in the process.

Max Verstappen qualified fourth for ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, who was the sole Ferrari driver in Q3, while Toro Rosso enjoyed a hugely impressive session as Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat finished sixth and seventh.

Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez took Force India into the top 10 once again, qualifying eighth and 10th respectively, while McLaren’s Fernando Alonso split the pair in ninth.

Williams drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were caught out by a late yellow flag in Q2, leaving them P11 and P12 respectively on the grid, ahead of Jenson Button in the second McLaren who clipped the wall on his final lap.

Romain Grosjean’s weekend from hell continued as he crashed out of Q2 during his final flying lap, losing control of his car at Turn 10. The Frenchman was left P15 in the final timesheets, just behind Haas teammate Esteban Gutierrez.

Marcus Ericsson put Sauber’s updates to good use as he made it through to Q2 for the first time since the Chinese Grand Prix, qualifying 16th. His late Q1 lap was enough to keep Renault drivers Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer out, the pair finishing 17th and 19th respectively, split by Felipe Nasr in the sister Sauber.

Pascal Wehrlein led Manor’s charge once again in qualifying, but could not keep his streak of Q2 appearances going, finishing 20th. He arguably stole a position more suited to teammate Esteban Ocon – Saturday being his 20th birthday – leaving the Frenchman to settle for 21st on the grid.

2015 pole-sitter and race winner Sebastian Vettel saw his tough weekend continue when a broken rear anti-roll bar on his Ferrari resigned him to an early exit in Q1. Unable to improve his time that was 4.8 seconds off the pace, Vettel pitted with four minutes remaining, calling it “stupid” to continue. The German will start tomorrow’s race from 22nd on the grid.

While Rosberg may have dominated proceedings on Saturday, Sunday’s race could prove to be more difficult with both Ricciardo and Verstappen set to start on super-soft tires, giving them a longer first stint in the race.

Alas, with Mercedes’ pace impressing throughout the weekend, either Rosberg or Hamilton may have too much for the Red Bulls to handle.

The Singapore Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.