F1 Preview: 2017 Japanese Grand Prix

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The 2017 Formula 1 season enters its final quarter this weekend with the Japanese Grand Prix at one of the world’s most famous and revered racetracks: Suzuka.

Ordinarily a mighty challenge, the stakes have been raised once again in 2017 with the new-style high downforce cars with wider tires, prompting a number of drivers to pick Suzuka as the circuit they were most looking forward to tackling in them.

Last weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix saw both of the championship protagonists endure a rollercoaster ride of fortunes, but it was Lewis Hamilton who emerged with his lead extended.

Sebastian Vettel put in the drive of the day by charging from P20 to fourth, yet it was not enough to prevent Hamilton from going 34 points clear with five races remaining.

Neither were victorious at Sepang, though, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen taking a dominant victory that proves the team is a serious threat

Here is what to watch for in this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.

2017 Japanese Grand Prix – What to watch for

Will Malaysia victory kick-start Verstappen’s season?

Max Verstappen’s stunning victory last weekend in Malaysia was remarkably just the second time he had stood on the podium all season long, the first occasion coming in China back in April.

Various on-track incidents and reliability issues had denied Verstappen the chance to dice at the front, but Red Bull’s pace for much of the year did that anyway, with the team being largely marooned in P3 behind Mercedes and Ferrari.

Yet Malaysia saw Red Bull not only fight against but also overcome its rivals, proving the development the team has undertaken throughout the year and the progress made, setting it up well for the final five flyaways.

The high-downforce tracks should play towards the strengths of the RB13, meaning the team has most likely not seen its final chance to win this year pass by if its Malaysia form is to be trusted.

Hamilton closing in on the numbers game

Hamilton is close to being mathematically in control of the championship and not need another victory this year. Nico Rosberg moved into that territory at Suzuka last season by taking what will likely be his final F1 win, barring a shock comeback, allowing him to finish second behind Hamilton at the remaining races and still be world champion.

Hamilton will reach that point so long as Vettel does not outscore him by six at Suzuka, but this is a circuit the Ferrari driver has excelled at in the past. With the top three teams also looking tighter than at any point so far this season, there are no guarantees Hamilton will be able to find that breathing room.

Suzuka has been the site of many classic F1 showdowns through the years. Seeing Hamilton and Vettel go toe-to-toe would be a perfect chapter to add to the narrative of this season.

A final home hurrah for Honda with McLaren?

The Japanese Grand Prix has always been an event of pride for Honda, but this year’s race will offer bittersweet feelings as it teams up with McLaren at Suzuka for the final time.

Three weeks after their divorce for 2018 was confirmed, McLaren and Honda will enjoy the bulk of local support from the fans at Suzuka, even if their hopes of a big result are going to be very slim indeed.

But there have been good signs of progress in recent weeks. Stoffel Vandoorne has scored back-to-back P7s, overtaking teammate Fernando Alonso in the drivers’ championship, and the team is slowly reeling Haas in for P8 in the constructors’ championship.

While this will be a final goodbye for McLaren-Honda at Suzuka, there will undoubtedly be a good deal of expectation for the entire team to impress on Honda home soil.

Driver market continues to piece together

With five races to go, we’re starting to get towards the endgame in the driver market for 2018 following reports that Williams is set to hold a shoot-out between Robert Kubica and Paul di Resta to replace Felipe Massa.

Suzuka has been an important place for driver announcements in the past – Michael Schumacher confirmed his final retirement here in 2012; Sebastian Vettel left Red Bull in 2014 – but it does not appear there will be any news on the main focal point for next year’s market: Fernando Alonso.

Alonso said in Malaysia that he wanted his future decided by the time F1’s heads to Austin for the United States Grand Prix, making the off-weekend following Japan crucial. The signs suggest he will re-sign with McLaren, but might there be a twist?

Sauber also has two seats going, with one seeming certain to go to Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc, who can wrap up the Formula 2 title at Jerez this weekend. Pascal Wehrlein finds himself floating about a bit with no real way of fitting on the F1 grid for 2018 as things stand.

Let’s see what movements we get on the driver side for next year.

New cars take on iconic Suzuka

When the new, high-downforce cars were introduced for the 2017 season, a couple of tracks stood out as being favorites for drivers to thrash them around on. Suzuka typically was the number one pick though.

The esses in the first sector are where the new cars will be particularly effective by comparison to last year’s models, with the added grip allowing the field to take more speed and get on the power earlier. Even through the Degners, Spoon and 130R – the latter being easy flat and very, very fast – the 2017 cars should be at home here.

Expect some happy drivers and some spectacular racing this weekend.

2017 Japanese Grand Prix – Facts and Figures

Track: Suzuka Circuit
Corners: 18
Lap Record: Kimi Raikkonen 1:31.540 (2005)
Tire Compounds: Super-Soft/Soft/Medium
2016 Winner: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
2016 Pole Position: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:30.647
2016 Fastest Lap: Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:35.118
DRS Zone: T18 to T1

2017 Japanese Grand Prix – TV/Stream Times

Supercross 2023: Results and points after Anaheim 2

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The Triple Crown format shook up the results in the Monster Energy Supercross round at Anaheim 2 with no rider dominating, but in the end two wins and a fifth-place were enough to give Chase Sexton the overall victory. It was the second 450 Supercross win of his career coming a little more than a year after he won his first in San Diego.

This year San Diego was not nearly as kind. Sexton crashed on the first lap of his heat and his Honda was center punched by another rider. The damage sent him into the Last Chance Qualifier and a poor gate pick contributed to his fifth-place finish last week.

Sexton showed he was more than ready to put that behind him Saturday night in Angel Stadium by winning the first of three races in the Triple Crown format. Entering Race 3 as one of three drivers who could have secured the overall win, he chased down Jason Anderson on Lap 4 and led the final 10 laps.

RESULTS: Click here for 450 Results; Click here 250 Results

Ultimately Anderson dropped to third in the final Supercross moto of the season in Anaheim 2, but strong results in the first two races secured second overall. Anderson won the second race and his 5-1-3 fell two positions shy of the overall win.

All questions about whether Ken Roczen would need an adjustment period as he switched from Honda to Suzuki have been answered: He did not. Sweeping the top five in his two Supercross Main events and in Anaheim 2’s Triple Crown, he amassed enough points with his results of 2-3-4 to score his first podium of the season.

Click here for 450 Triple Crown Race 1 | Race 2 | Race 3

Cooper Webb steadily improved his results during the Triple Crown, but a seventh-place finish in the first race proved to be too much to overcome. He finished fourth in Race 2 and charged to second in the final race to secure fourth overall.

Dylan Ferrandis showed a lot of consistency with results of 4-6-5 to round out the top five.

Eli Tomac was one of the three riders who might have secured the overall victory by winning Race 3, but he pressed too hard while trying to pass Webb for second. He jumped wide midway through the race and landed on a Tuff Blox. After getting violently pitched from his Yamaha, he found that it was slightly damaged when he remounted and could only salvage sixth-place points with finishes of 3-2-13.

It was enough for him to maintain the overall lead in the points’ standings by four over Sexton and Webb.

Click here for Round 1 450 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points


Levi Kitchen didn’t win a battle on Saturday night, but he won the war. He established in the top five in Race 1 with a fourth-place finish and then swept the runner-up spot in the final two motos. That first SuperMotocross victory of his career with a previous best of seventh in Supercross this year in Anaheim 1 and a third in Motocross last year at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado. It was a much-needed morale boost for Kitchen, who finished 21st last week in San Diego.

The night was disappointing by Jett Lawrence standards. He suffered falls in the first two races and stalled one another occasion, but was able to overcome those problems each time with results of third and sixth. That put him in a position where he had a shot at the overall if Kitchen stumbled just a little in the final moto. Lawrence won Race 3, but still does not have an overall Triple Crown win in the Supercross 250 division. With only one more Triple Crown on the schedule before he climbs on a 450 for the outdoor season, time is running out.

Click here for 250 Triple Crown Race 1 | Race 2 | Race 3 | Last Chance Qualifier

The Triple Crown always shakes up the Supercross results and Anaheim 2 was no exception.

Stilez Roberston capitalized on mistakes by Lawrence, RJ Hampshire and Cameron McAdoo during Race 2 and won. That victory, coupled with a third in Race 3 and a sixth in the first main, was enough to give him the final position on the podium. In this format the results are added together and the lowest number wins. Robertson tied Lawrence with identical results of 10 accumulated points, but Lawrence’s win in the final race relegated Robertson to third.

With a total score of 15 (5-4-6), Mitchell Oldenburg was a relatively distant fifth. The 18 points he earned are enough to keep him fourth in the standings and with McAdoo and Hampshire experience trouble in the race, he was able to close the gap on second in the standings.

Click here for 250 West Overall results | 250 West rider points

After missing last week’s Main, Max Vohland finished with results of 7-8-4 in the Anaheim 2 Supercross race and rounds out the top five.

McAdoo and Hampshire both lost ground in the championship standings with difficult races.

McAdoo was able to salvage sixth-place points (17) and that allowed him to leapfrog Hampshire (12). Proving that even bad days are not that bad for last year’s 250 East champion, Lawrence left Anaheim 2 with a points’ lead of 16 over second-place.

2023 Results

Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 2: Ken Roczen moves up; Chase Sexton falls
Week 1: Eli Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s