Raikkonen disappointed after Malaysia F1 pole position near-miss

Getty Images
0 Comments

Kimi Raikkonen admitted to feeling disappointed after narrowly missing out on his second Formula 1 pole position of the season in Malaysia, falling 0.045 seconds short of Lewis Hamilton in the final stage of qualifying.

Ferrari entered Saturday’s qualifying running as the favorite for pole following a strong showing in practice, only for an engine issue to sideline Sebastian Vettel from the session entirely.

Left to lead Ferrari’s charge, Raikkonen worked up a quick final lap in Q3 to run Hamilton close for pole, with a lock-up at the final corner appearing to prove costly as he was left to settle for P2 on the grid.

“It’s OK, but obviously when you get that close it’s disappointing,” Raikkonen admitted after the session.

“I made the most out of it. Yes, there are always places you can improve, but you are never going to get it 100 per cent perfect anywhere.

“You always find some things you can improve, but I must say the car has been behaving nicely all weekend and it’s been a pleasure so far.

“We’ll try to get further than 100 meters tomorrow, and let’s see what we can do.”

Raikkonen’s 100 meters reference harked back to the collision with Vettel and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen off the start in Singapore, with the latter set to start third tomorrow.

“I don’t want to be sandwiched – that’s the only thing,” Verstappen said when asked about his hopes for the race.

Raikkonen added: “I don’t want to be hit.”

The Malaysian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 2am on Sunday.

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.