F1 2016 Driver Review: Felipe Nasr

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Felipe Nasr

Team: Sauber
Car No.: 12
Races: 21
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: 9th (Brazil)
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 2
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 17th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Felipe Nasr’s second season in Formula 1 was a largely forgettable one. Sure, Sauber basically ran an updated version of its 2015 car for the bulk of the year as a result of its financial struggles, but he still failed to deliver on-track.

When racing for a backmarker team, you cannot be expected to work wonders, so your teammate is your best marker. Nasr was always regarded as the stronger racer at Sauber alongside Marcus Ericsson, yet he lost in the head-to-heads in both qualifying and races. It’s a pretty damning defeat.

Nasr’s outstanding moment came in Brazil, where he weathered the storm and red flags to finish ninth. he drove a good race, but the real magic came courtesy of Sauber’s pit wall where the strategy vaulted him up the pack.

It’s unclear whether Nasr will return next year, but his form this season didn’t help his cause much.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Nasr’s reward for bringing Sauber two points and the financial upside that goes with it in the Constructor’s Championship is… an uncertain future in F1 after this season. The Brazilian’s sophomore season was underwhelming and forgettable otherwise.

Other than his home race where he did bring the car home, Nasr never looked like scoring points this year. Marcus Ericsson largely outclassed him in both qualifying and the races; in races where both drivers finished, Ericsson held a 9-4 edge.

Nasr has enough talent to be in F1 but his future will be dictated more by financials, even though he said in Abu Dhabi he’d prefer it to be results-based only. After an opportunistic 2015, Nasr didn’t follow-up as best as he could have this year.

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.