Lewis Hamilton fastest on Friday for Brazilian GP, penalized for engine change

Hamilton Brazilian GP
Buda Mendes / Getty Images

Friday was a case of ‘good news, bad news’ for Lewis Hamilton as he paced the first practice session for the Brazilian GP and set the fastest time in qualification but will be hit with a five-spot grid penalty to start Sunday’s race at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace for making an engine change. Hamilton was more than a third of a second quicker than Max Verstappen in Practice 1.

With the new engine, Hamilton paced qualification on Friday to secure the pole for Saturday’s sprint race, but will start no higher than sixth on Sunday regardless of whether he wins the sprint race. Hamilton was 1.8 seconds faster than Verstappen in qualification with Hamilton’s teammate Bottas third and Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez in fourth.

Hamilton’s penalty will be enforced for the race but will not affect Hamilton for Saturday’s third sprint race of the season. The winner of Saturday’s sprint race will be awarded three points. This format has been used twice previously at Silverstone and Monza.

“Today was a really good qualifying session, I’m super happy with it,” Hamilton said at Formula1.com. “We’ve got the penalty but we’ll give it everything we’ve got. It feels crazy, because it’s been a while, so it feels like the first.”

Hamilton’s grid penalty makes it more difficult to close the 19-point gap on Verstappen with four races remaining on the calendar, in a race for which Red Bull was already favored.

This is the second time Hamilton has incurred a penalty for exceeding Formula One’s limit of three engines. He suffered a 10-spot grid penalty in the Turkish GP, a race won by teammate Valtteri Bottas, and Hamilton was only able to climb to fifth before the end of the event.

Verstappen finished second in Turkey and the eight-point differential in that race allowed the Red Bull driver to reclaim the points’ lead.

Hamilton’s engine change comes one week after Bottas was penalized for a third time at the Circuit of the Americas for an engine change.

Beta Motorcycles joins SuperMotocross in 2024, Benny Bloss named first factory rider

Beta Motorcycles 2024 Bloss
Beta Motorcycles

Benny Bloss will race for the factory Beta Motorcycles team in 2024 as that manufacturer joins SuperMotocross as the ninth brand to compete in the series. Beta Motorcycles will make their debut in the Monster Energy Supercross opener at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California in January.

Benny Bloss finished among the top 10 twice in Pro Motocross, in 2016 and 2018. – Beta Motorcycles

“The wait is over and we can finally share everything we have been working towards,” said Carlen Gardner, Race Team Manager in a press release. “It has been a great experience being a part of this development and seeing the progression. The only missing part was finding a rider that would mesh well with our Beta Family.

“After a one phone call with Benny, we knew it would be a good fit for him, and for us. We are happy to have him on board for the next two years and can’t wait to see everyone at Anaheim in January.”

Bloss debuted in the 450 class in 2015 with a 15th-place finish overall at Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

Bloss has a pair of top-10 rankings in the division with a sixth-place finish in the Pro Motocross Championship in 2016 and a seventh in 2018. His best Supercross season ended 15th in the standings in 2018.

“I’m extremely excited to join the Beta Factory Racing team,” Bloss said. “It’s cool to see a brand with such a rich history in off-road racing to come into the US Supercross and Motocross space. I know this team will be capable of great things as we build and go racing in 2024.”

Bloss is currently 22nd in the SuperMotocross rankings and has not raced in the first two rounds of the Motocross season.

Testing for Beta Motorcycles is scheduled to begin in August and the team expects to announce a second rider at that time.

The family-owned brand adds to the international flare of the sport. The company was founded in Florence, Italy in 1905 as Società Giuseppe Bianchi as they built handmade bicycles, The transition to motorcycle production in the late 1940s.

Beta Motorcycles competed and won in motocross competition in the late 1970s and early 1980s with Jim Pomeroy and other riders.

Beta will join Triumph Motorcycles as a second historic brand to join the sport in 2024. First established in 1902, Triumph has won in nearly every division they have competed in, dating back to their first victory in the 1908 Isle of Man TT. Triumph will debut in the 250 class in 2024 and plans to expand into 450s in 2025.