Rosberg closes out Brazilian GP practice fastest

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Nico Rosberg bounced back after a quiet Friday to finish fastest in the final Formula 1 practice session ahead of this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.

Rosberg trailed Mercedes teammate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton throughout practice on Friday, but rose to the helm of the timesheets in FP3 to give himself a boost heading into qualifying later on Saturday.

Overnight rain left the track damp for the early part of the session, but conditions improved quickly to allow the drivers to complete a good part of their running on dry tires.

Both Ferrari and Red Bull enjoyed stints at the top of the timesheets during the early part of the session, with Daniel Ricciardo leading the way ahead of the qualifying simulations in the final 10 minutes.

Rosberg was the first of the Mercedes drivers to get out for an aggressive run over a single lap, producing a time of 1:11.740. Hamilton ran the championship leader close, but fell 0.093 seconds short of P1 with his best lap.

Ferrari enjoyed a solid session as Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen finished up third and fourth respectively, suggesting the Italian marque may be in the mix at the front in its fight against Red Bull, whose drivers Max Verstappen and Ricciardo ended up fifth and sixth.

Valtteri Bottas slotted into in seventh place ahead of Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, who charged up to P8 for Renault with a mighty lap. Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso rounded out the top 10 for Williams and McLaren in ninth and 10th place respectively.

The session went by without any major incidents, with the most notable issue being the appearance of an errant umbrella on the track in the early part of the session. Thankfully, a quick-footed marshal was able to recover it without it affecting any of the drivers.

Qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 11am ET on Saturday.

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.