Perez, Ocon look to move on from Spa clash after clear-the-air talks

Getty Images
0 Comments

Force India Formula 1 drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon have held clear-the-air talks after clashing for the fourth race this season in Belgium last weekend, with both admitting to have done wrong.

Perez and Ocon touched twice on-track at Spa on Sunday, with the second collision leaving both drivers with damaged cars and costing the team a decent haul of points.

Force India’s team bosses looked dimly on the clash, confirming immediately after the race they would be implementing on-track orders to prevent the pair from colliding again, having warned the drivers after previous incidents in Canada, Azerbaijan and Hungary.

Speaking in Thursday’s FIA press conference ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, Perez confirmed that talks had been held earlier in the day in a bid to resolve the issue, with both drivers keen to put it behind them.

“I’ve had a really good conversation with him, personally, between him and me, and I think it’s time to move forwards,” Perez said.

“I think everyone has their opinion of what happened. The engineers have one opinion, the fans, us, have different opinions on what has been happening. But the most important thing is that from now on we move forward.

“The main objective as a team is to move forward in the constructors’, and we cannot afford to lose any more points. I think we’ve lost quite a lot of points in those races. We will move forward and I’m very sure that these things will not happen again.”

“What has happened before has happened. Now we can’t change what happened before,” Ocon added.

“We have to move forward. As Sergio was saying, we had a talk this morning together, just us two. It is time that we forget all of that and we work hard for the team.

“That’s what’s important, that’s what they deserve as well, that we behave as professionals, and we want to keep challenging the others, keep pushing them, and we have to keep that fourth place until the end.”

When asked if they had behaved as professionals, Ocon said: “I think we both crossed the line, that’s for sure. We touched, so of course, something was wrong in there.

“I’m not going to argue because it’s all behind now and we want to move forward, but for sure we crossed the line, and we can’t do that in the future for the purpose of the team, and even for us.”

Perez brushed off the suggestion that he would not be able to work with Ocon in the future, insisting there is no need for either driver to leave Force India to defuse the tension in the team.

“I think that’s not the way I look at things. I want to do the best for the current team that I am with, and I want to do the best results,” Perez said, having been linked with a move to Renault.

“I think we both know that we’ve done wrong in the past for this team. So my main target, I’m not thinking to run away.

“I think that working with Esteban is still possible, there still can be a successful partnership. I’m not thinking about moving elsewhere.”

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

0 Comments

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.