Verstappen knew Hamilton had more to lose in Malaysia F1 fight

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Max Verstappen was encouraged to be bold in his fight with Lewis Hamilton in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix as he knew the Formula 1 championship leader has more to risk by battling for position.

Verstappen passed Hamilton on Lap 4 in Malaysia en route to his second F1 win, dominating the remainder of the race and finishing 12 seconds clear of the Mercedes driver at the checkered flag.

Verstappen sensed from the beginning there would be an opportunity to fight with Hamilton, and was happy to force the issue knowing his rival had a championship lead to protect.

“I think in the beginning straightaway the car felt good. I saw Lewis struggling with traction, so I used my battery as much as I could,” Verstappen said.

“He has more to lose than me in the championship, so I went for it at Turn 1. From there on I could do my own race.

“The car was unbelievable today. I had the pace. If I needed to speed up, I speeded up. It’s amazing, a very tough race. Incredible to win.”

The result marked only Verstappen’s second appearance on the podium this season, having only finished in the top three back in China, the second round of the season.

In a year that has left the Dutchman largely frustrated with frequent reliability issues, he admitted the victory was all the sweeter.

“Especially after the season I’ve had, I think this victory came at a very good time,” Verstappen said.

“I was really happy when I crossed the line.”

Coming just one day after his 20th birthday, the result sees Verstappen become the youngest driver in F1 history to win multiple grands prix, beating the record set by Sebastian Vettel at the 2009 Chinese Grand Prix.

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


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.