Red Bull F1 hoping for more rain in Malaysia after pacing FP1

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Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen finished Friday’s Formula 1 practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix hoping for rain through the remainder of the weekend after mixed conditions through FP1 and FP2.

Heavy rain resulted in first practice being delayed by 30 minutes before the drivers were allowed out on-track, with Verstappen and Ricciardo sweeping to a one-two finish in the damp conditions.

A bone-dry FP2 saw Ferrari come to the fore, with Ricciardo and Verstappen settling for P3 and P4 respectively, leaving them eager for more rain after getting an idea of what could be possible in a wet race.

“We were both looking pretty good in the wetter conditions and on the intermediates we were at the pace and significantly quicker than everyone else, which we’ll take,” Ricciardo said.

“This afternoon we weren’t that competitive looking at Ferrari, but it looked like Mercedes struggled as well. If we can focus on ourselves we can still improve; on the short runs we needed to improve the front grip and on the long runs we needed to improve the rear, so we have just got to find a better compromise with the set-up. Just looking after that I think will be the key on Sunday.

“I think if we can find half a second somewhere then we’ll be in the fight, we have still got a bit of work to do but we were OK.

“If we get some light drizzle across the weekend then we’ll be looking pretty good; I won’t complain if qualifying and the race is wet!”

Verstappen echoed his teammate’s comments: “I think today was positive. Of course, compared to Ferrari it can be better but it’s not a bad performance and we still end the day ahead of Mercedes.

“For sure tomorrow it will be better but we still need to improve to beat Ferrari. I missed out on doing a long run this afternoon because of the red flag, so I will see with Daniel how he is feeling and then we will decide what we can do tomorrow to improve the car.

“Tomorrow I’m hoping for rain, not too much that we aren’t driving, but a little bit would make things interesting.”

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”