Verstappen and Vettel feud flares in mexico
But Hamilton draws closer in the fight for the world title
The simmering tensions between Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari and Red Bull wild child Max Verstappen erupted into open aggravation in the closing laps of the Mexican Grand Prix when the Dutchman refused to cede to the four-times world champion after running off the track under pressure during a fight for third.
Ahead, Lewis Hamilton took victory from his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to narrow the point’s gap to 19 in their personal battle for the 2016 world title. But with just two races remaining, Rosberg can clinch the championship in Brazil in two weekend’s from now at a venue that has never brought a victory to Hamilton.
But it was the late scrap for the final place on the Mexico podium that finally enlivened a dull grand prix.
Verstappen was under threat from Vettel, benefitting from better rubber, with Daniel Ricciardo in fifth, on even fresher tyres fast chasing down sandwiched Ferrari driver.
Versappen locked up and ran on the grass before short-cutting back in front of an incandescent Vettel, who immediately turned the airwaves blue. It was clear that Verstappen wasn’t interested in redressing and stewards indicated the matter would be investigated post race.
Ricciardo, meantime, had his own clear intentions to pass Vettel, and fired down the inside of the Ferrari, delivering an exotic recipe of sliding and smoking Pirellis. The two managed to avoid any coming together but the incident left gaps between the three protagonists for third place. Stewards, suddenly awake, decided they would also look at this seemingly harmless attempted pass.
After the flag, Vettel raced up to Verstappen to deliver his views on the youngster’s driving with some emphatic sign language. Verstappen responded with some deaf/dumb “talk” of his own.
Then stewards imposed justice retrospectively, hitting Verstappen with a five-second penalty which elevated Vettel to third, Ricciardo to fourth and relegated Verstappen to fifth. Vettel was then slapped with a 10-second penalty for moving under braking, reshuffling the finishing order to Ricciardo over Versteppen and Vettel.
The first penalty has at least done something to counter the belief that Verstappen is something of a protected species free to challenge driving etiquette without censure.
In fact on the opening lap Rosberg was hip-and-shouldered off the track by an attacking Verstappen in a move that didn’t seem to bother anyone in the tower.
Rosberg had been struggling for pace all weekend in Mexico, consistently a few tenths behind Hamilton through practice.
Qualifying was predictable enough with Hamilton taking his 10th pole of the year (and his career 59th) while Rosberg completed a 12th Silver Arrows front row lockout so far in 2016.
For the eighth time this season, improving Red Bull filled row two, with Verstappen just ahead of Ricciardo after the Aussie conceded his lap was scrappy. Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg started fifth.
In another miserable result, the Ferrari’s were sixth and seventh, the drivers confounded by inconsistencies in the pace of the red cars.
WRC: Ogier again!
Neuville noses ahead in fight for second in championship
The 2016 title safely in his keeping, VW’s Sébastien Ogier, went on the rampage in a tricky Wales Rally GB at the weekend to take victory from Ford’s impressive Ott Tänak.
Fog and greasy dirt roads in mid-Wales ensured the contest was far from simple.
The Frenchman, who sealed his fourth consecutive world title in Spain earlier this month, capitalised on the advantage of running first on the stages in the muddy conditions to go into the final day with a 33.8 sec advantage over Tänak.
With the conditions equalised by the final day running order – Tänak and Ogier running consecutively on the road – the Estonian showed that he had the pace to match the world champ in Wales.
Winning all of Sunday’s six stages and claiming maximum points in the Power Stage, Tänak slashed Ogier’s lead from 33.8 seconds to a mere 10.2 seconds – recording the closest finish of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship this season.
Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville was third in Wales gaining an advantage over rival Andreas Mikkelsen in the overall scrap for second in the championship.
Hayden Paddon could not get to grips with the tricky conditions. The mud required a straighter and more precise driving line, in contrast to the Kiwi’s aggressive style, and although he modified his Hyundai’s i20’s set-up, he couldn’t quite match team-mate Neuville.
Paddon will much prefer the gravel of his “home” event, Rally Australia.
MotoGP: Dovi lands his first Ducati win
Rossi cements second in 2016 world title
Andrea Dovizioso waited seven years to claim his second MotoGP victory and his first since joining Ducati, and he did it with a faultless ride in a rain-affected Malaysian Grand Prix, catching and overhauling Valentino Rossi during his surge to the front.
While Dovi’s day was made a little easier when three riders in the lead pack – Cal Crutchlow, Marc Marquez and Andrea Ianonne – all slipped off separately, the likeable Italian mixed commonsense with speed to become the ninth different rider this season to win a premier class grand prix.
Rossi fought hard and was part of an enthralling duel with Ianonne in the early laps, taking turns to lead until the Ducati rider fell.
Dovizioso then grabbed the chance push Rossi, who was battling severe front tyre wear.
The Ducati rider took control with five laps remaining when Rossi went wide.
The 30-year old went on to win comfortably, flanked on the podium by a past Ducati rider (Rossi) and a future Ducati rider (Jorge Lorenzo, who took a lonely, faraway third).
It was the first MotoGP win for Dovizioso since 2009, when he rode for Honda.
Marquez, who has already wrapped up the championship, remounted after his fall, finishing 11th.
The lead-up to race day was as challenging as race day for competitors, swinging between damp, wet and saturated, putting riders and teams under serious duress.
Complicated an already awkward preparation, Marquez was struck down with a gastro attack on Friday, returning on Saturday to take fourth in the order in qualifying.
Dovizioso claimed his second pole of the season to edge Yamaha’s Rossi and Lorenzo, the latter rediscovering his confidence and verve in the wet, helped by the grippy nature of the new Sepang track surface.
Jack Miller was expected to shine in these conditions but didn’t quite nail a strong lap. He started 14thand finished eighth.
In Moto2, Johann Zarco took victory in Sepang – his sixth of the season - to seal his second straight world championship in the category.
The Frenchman is now gearing up to move into the premier class with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 in 2017.
Francesco Bagnaia survived the carnage to win a bizarre and chaotic Moto3 race decimated by falls – 17 in all, including three of the four leaders sliding off at the same turn.
Bagnaia stayed on board in the slippery conditions until the race was red flagged with the Italian holding a big lead over Czech rider Jakub Kornfeil and rookie youngster Bo Bendsneyder of the Netherlands.
Sensational Hampton Downs 101 to Russell and Lago
Wild finish to Australian GT championship race in NZ
David Russell and Roger Lago – hired gun and owner respectively of the JBS Australia Lamborghini – have won a dramatic Hampton Downs 101 at Tony Quinn’s recently lengthened circuit south of Auckland.
The Lago Racing Lamborghini took the 101 lap race, also round three of the AEC, from the John Martin/Duvashen Padayachee Walkinshaw Porsche 911 GT3-R.
The Tekno Autosports McLaren 650S of Nathan Morcom and Grant Denyer took the flag third but was classified fifth after a post-race investigation.
The beneficiaries here were Garth Tander/ Daniel Bilski who without fuss – GT would like that – rose through the field in their Audi R8 to claim the final podium position ahead of the similar car of Liam Talbot/Jake Fouracre.
The Maranello Motorsport Ferrari 458 duo of Peter Edwards and Graeme Smythe seemed on track for victory when a late Safety Car intervention bunched the field and wiped away their 13-second advantage over the Morcom/Denyer car.
Russell had led early from pole but in the middle of the race Lago had lost track position after a drive-through penalty. In the last stint the hard-pressing Russell shot back to the front after the under siege Smythe ran wide as the laps ran down.
The minor places were decided during a hectic final lap after the defensive Smythe was tagged and turned around by Morcom. During the scrimmage, Martin in the Walkinshaw Porsche opportunistically stole second.
“We are such a small team and the boys have worked extremely hard,” said a satisfied Russell, who impressed with his speed over the weekend.
“This is a big win for us and Roger did an awesome job. We got lucky with the Safety Cars but those are the breaks.”
A day earlier, Russell served notice to the rest of the field when he rocketed to the combo’s first Australian GT Endurance Championship pole position, fastest ahead of George Miedecke (Aston Martin Vantage V12) by 0.1sec .
Seven of the 10 manufacturers represented in the entry made it in the Top 10 Shootout.
The endurance championship remains in New Zealander for the final round at the other Quinn-owned circuit, Highlands Park on the South Island, November 11-13.
Mawson continues to impress in Europe
Podiums for Aussie in British F3 Autumn Trophy
Australia’s Joey Mawson has made the best of a chance to race a Formula Three car, racing to three podiums from as many starts comprising the stand-alone British F3 Autumn Trophy event at Snetterton.
Against well-regarded drivers including Dan Ticktum (British F4 and FIA F3), Cameron Das (US F4 champion), Marcus Armstrong (FR2.0 Eurocup), and other rivals from British F4 and F3, Mawson quickly put his credentials out there for team bosses to see.
Mawson’s first qualifying session in an F3 went brilliantly with the Australian fastest until the last lap when two others led by British F3 regular Enaam Ahmed went quicker in the Carlin entry. Third to Mawson was an outstanding result, bettered in the opening race when he took an impressive second to Ahmed. Then a third to Ticktum and Ahmed in race two.
Ahmed took victory in the third race on Sunday, chased home by Mawson. With fog closing in, the meeting was abandoned ahead of race four, meaning that Ahmed was crowned the British F3 Autumn Trophy Champion from Mawson.
Mawson’s strong performance came in a strange environment of racing to different rules, with a different car with an unfamiliar team.