Bottas leads final Japan F1 practice despite early crash (VIDEO)

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Valtteri Bottas closed out practice for the Japanese Grand Prix leading the timesheets for Mercedes despite crashing early in FP3, completing just nine laps in total on Saturday morning.

Mercedes was eager to bounce back and respond to Ferrari’s Friday pace at Suzuka, and did so early on as Bottas and teammate Lewis Hamilton rose to the top of the order with quick laps on the soft compound tire.

Bottas’ early time of 1:29.055 proved quick enough to give him P1 come the checkered flag despite only featuring in the first third of the session.

FP3 at Suzuka was interrupted by two red flag periods, the first coming after 20 minutes when Bottas hit the wall at the exit of Spoon, leaving debris strewn across the track.

Bottas was able to limp back to the pits, albeit with significant damage to the right-rear corner of his Mercedes W08 car that meant he was unable to get back out on-track as the team completed repairs.

The session returned to green 10 minutes after Bottas’ shunt, only for the red flag to return not long after when Kimi Raikkonen ran wide at Degner 2 and slid into the barrier, damaging the left-hand side of his Ferrari.

Friday’s limited running meant many teams did not chase outright lap time in FP3, with Bottas’ lap going unbeaten through the session as Hamilton finished just 0.014 seconds further back in the second Mercedes.

Title contender Sebastian Vettel did flirt with a quick lap late on for Ferrari, but ultimately finished three-tenths of a second behind Bottas on the super-soft tire.

Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo completed the top five for Red Bull, while Esteban Ocon led the close-knit midfield in sixth for Force India ahead of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.

Ocon and Hulkenberg’s respective teammates, Sergio Perez and Jolyon Palmer, completed the top 10 behind McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who finished eighth-fastest.

Qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 2am ET on Saturday.

Peacock to stream all Supercross and Motocross races in 2023, plus inaugural SuperMotocross Championship

Peacock Supercross Motocross 2023
Feld Entertainment, Inc.

NBC Sports and Feld Motor Sports announced that Peacock and the NBC family of networks will stream all 31 races of the combined Monster Energy Supercross, Lucas Oil Pro Motocross and the newly created SuperMotocross World Championship beginning January 7, 2023 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California and ending October 14 in the place where Supercross was born: the Los Angeles Coliseum.

The combined series will create a 10-month calendar of events, making it one of the longest professional sports’ seasons in the United States.

The agreement is for multiple years. The season finale will air live on Peacock and the USA Network.

Peacock will present live coverage of all races, qualifying and heats across both series. The 31 total races will mark a record for the combined number of Supercross and Pro Motocross events that NBC Sports will present in a single season.

NBC, USA Network and CNBC will provide coverage of all races, including the SuperMotocross World Championship Playoffs and Final, through 2023 and beyond. For more information about the Peacock streaming service, click here.

“With our wide array of live and original motorsports offerings, Peacock is a natural home for Supercross and Pro Motocross races,” said Rick Cordella, Chief Commercial Officer, Peacock. “We’re looking forward to providing fans with an easily-accessible destination to find every race all season long, including the exciting finish with the newly formed SuperMotocross World Championship.”

MORE: A conversation about media rights created the new SuperMotocross World Championship Series

The NBC family of networks has been home to Supercross for the past several seasons and this is a continuation of that relationship. The media rights for both series expired at the end of 2022, which allowed Supercross and Motocross to combine their efforts.

In fact, it was that conversation that led to the formation of the SuperMotocross World Championship (SMX).

The SMX series will begin on September 9, 2023 after the conclusion of the Pro Motocross season. Points will accumulate from both series to seed the SMX championship, which creates a record number of unified races.

“The SuperMotocross World Championship adds a new dimension to the annual Supercross and Pro Motocross seasons that will result in crowning the ultimate World Champion,” said Stephen C. Yaros, SVP Global Media and Supercross for Feld Motor Sports. “We are thrilled to be extending our relationship with NBC Sports so our fans can watch all the racing action streaming live on Peacock and the option to also watch select rounds on NBC, USA Network and CNBC.”

Complete 2023 coverage schedules for Supercross, Pro Motocross and the SuperMotocross World Championship on Peacock, NBC, USA Network and CNBC will be announced in the near future.