Verstappen: Mexico penalty for impeding Bottas would be ‘really stupid’

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Max Verstappen feels it would be “really stupid” if the FIA stewards opted to give him a penalty for impeding Valtteri Bottas during Formula 1 qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix, believing he did nothing wrong when slowing down on-track.

Verstappen backed off during a lap at the start of Q3 in order to find a gap and work his tires, moving to the left-hand side of the circuit heading into the Foro Sol stadium section.

Mercedes’ Bottas remained on a flying lap and came across Verstappen, peeling to the right-hand side of the circuit as per the racing line before locking up and going deep at the next corner.

Bottas immediately returned to the pits, feeling Verstappen had ruined his lap, and the stewards quickly confirmed they would be investigating the Red Bull driver after the session.

“I was on the left. I don’t think I was in the way,” Verstappen told NBCSN after qualifying second.

“He locks up the next corner doing his normal line. That’s not my problem. I’m not in the way there.

“That would be really stupid [if a penalty was given]. You know my comment already.”

Bottas made no secret of his frustration when talking to NBCSN after the session, having qualified fourth with just a single flying lap at the end of Q3.

“For me, it definitely ruined my lap in the end. I was coming out of Turn 12, definitely in the turbulent air, and it compromised my line for 13,” Bottas said.

“That’s why I locked my brakes for 13. So I only had one shot in Q3.”

Verstappen’s latest visit to the stewards comes just six days after he was stripped of a podium finish in the United States Grand Prix for cutting a corner on the final lap when passing Kimi Raikkonen, with the decision sparking a wide debate about their decisions in F1.

The Mexican Grand Prix is live on NBC from 2:30pm ET on Sunday.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”