Lewis Hamilton may have put one hand on his fourth Formula 1 drivers’ title by winning Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, but that did not stop the Mercedes driver from taking a moment to admire a rather special piece of jewelry that appeared on the podium at Suzuka.
Hamilton stormed to his eighth win of the season with a commanding display in Japan, extending his championship lead to 59 points over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel with just 100 left to play for this season.
Having completed a memorable IndyCar season that saw him win the Indianapolis 500 with Andretti Autosport, Sato was on hand in Japan as an ambassador for Honda at its home grand prix.
Sato got the chance to take a run-out in Honda RA300 car that won the 1967 Italian Grand Prix on both Saturday and Sunday at Suzuka before conducting the podium interviews with the top three finishers.
Hamilton immediately was interested in Sato’s Indy 500 ring, saying: “Wow, you got some bling! Where’s this from? I love that! I need that ring!”
Sato let Hamilton try it on later in the podium ceremony, with the Briton wanting to see “if it’s worth me going and doing” the ‘500.
As impressed as he was by the ring, do not expect Hamilton to appear at the Brickyard in the future, as he has long-stated his desire to only race in F1 and quit motorsport once his time in the series is over.
Bad news continues to come out of the Monster Energy / Pro Circuit Kawasaki team as they announced Jo Shimoda injured his shoulder in a practice session and will not mount up when the Monster Energy Supercross 250 East division opens in Houston, Texas on February 4. A timetable has not been given for Shimoda’s return, but a press release from the team references multiple weeks.
“I’m doing my best to focus forward on my return to racing,” said Shimoda in the release. “Our goal was to compete for the 250 Supercross Eastern Regional Championship and I know we had been doing the right work to make that happen. Unfortunately, this crash will cause me to miss the start of the season, but I still aim to be back on the track racing for wins before the end of Supercross.”
Shimoda is joined on the sidelines by teammates Seth Hammaker and Austin Forkner, who also suffered injuries in recent weeks.
The news of Hammaker’s sidelining came just two days ago. His wrist injury is sufficient to require surgery, so he too will miss multiple weeks. Hammaker was scheduled to compete in the 250 East division alongside Shimoda.
Forkner was involved in a Lap 1 crash in the 250 West season opener at Anaheim. Multiple injuries, including an ACL tear, will sideline him for the remainder of the season. He described the injury and its aftermath on Instagram.
Forkner will be relieved by Carson Mumford, but not before that rider’s wrist has healed sufficiently. He is scheduled to debut with Kawasaki in Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 Supercross race on February 18.
Shimoda finished fourth in the 2022 Supercross 250 West division and was second in 2021 points in 250 East. In 2021, Shimoda won his first Supercross race at Salt Lake City. Last year, he scored one podium and six top-fives in nine starts.
Shimoda finished second in last year’s outdoor Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, where he added two more SuperMotocross wins including the Unadilla Nationals that kicked off a four-race streak of first- or second-place results.
Kawasaki is not the only team facing injury. Red Bull KTM initially reported Marvin Musquin would be out for the San Diego round with a wrist injury and “maybe more”. This week it was announced he will miss this week’s Triple Crown race in Anaheim and “at least the next several rounds.”