Mugello Masterclass

Qualifying:

What a difference two weekends make! Not very far away from the LeMans track there wasn’t a rain cloud in sight this weekend at the Mugello circuit.

Mugello circuit. Courtesy of: Honda Racing Corporation website

During the qualifying session, the top 5 riders were so close, each within a shout of taking first place but it was Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) who took his fourth consecutive pole of the season from Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati), Johann Zarco (Ducati), Aleix Espagaro (Aprilia) and Jack Miller (Ducati) in fifth place. Upon being interviewed Fabio said that it was “…the best lap I have ever done…”.

Meanwhile Marc Marquez (Honda), who was struggling, used the qualifying session as a tester and only managed to gain eleventh on the grid.

Race:

The magic of Mugello was subdued this weekend with a very sombre cloud, following on from the news of Moto 3 rider Jason Dupasquier, who sadly passed away from injuries sustained during the qualifying session on Saturday. Every rider and fan was saddened to hear of his passing and it was another reminder of just how dangerous this sport, that we love, can be.

A minutes silence was held in his honour prior to the race.

From the very start drama reigned, as the riders were finishing their warm-up lap and lining up on the grid Enea Bastianini (Ducati) ran into the back of Zarco, who was slowing down ready to get into position. After this freak accident, Bastianini was unhurt but was unable to start the race, with no start delay announced. Zarco had minor damage to the back of his Ducati and was able to continue.

Bastianini at the start of the race. Courtesy of: BT Sport – MotoGP

For the first time as well this year, Quartararo’s Yamaha had the holeshot device installed, which Ducati first demonstrated in 2019. It is designed to mechanically lower the rear of the bike to reduce wheelieing off the line and improve acceleration at the start of a race. It seemed to do the trick as Quartararo got a great start with 23 laps to go, however it was Bagnaia that took the lead, at his home Grand Prix, from Quartararo and Miguel Oliveira (KTM).

A. Espargaro, starting in fourth place had a terrible start and managed to drop down five places.

Lap two saw the weekend go from bad to worse for Marc Marquez as he crashed out on turn three, after trying to overtake Brad Binder (KTM), causing Brad’s airbag to deploy which meant he had to race the next couple of laps with it inflated. It also caused Franko Morbidelli (Yamaha) to have to take evasive action to miss Marquez’s Honda, seeing him travel into the gravel, luckily both he and Binder were able to carry on racing.

Moments later on turn nine, Bagnaia, one of the home heroes, also crashed from the lead, after touching the white line at the edge of the track. (The white lines are notorious for being painted slippery edges that can cause riders to slip out of a race). This mistake granted Fabio the lead.

First place wasn’t Quartararo’s for long as the Ducati power of Zarco quickly took the lead on the straight and gained him the fastest lap.

A mini battle broke out between the two Frenchmen and soon on lap three El Diablo regained first.

Quartararo leading the way. Courtesy of: MotoGP

They weren’t the only pair vying for positions though as Takaaki Nakagami (Honda) and Michele Pirro (Ducati) fought for 9th place and the two Suzuki’s (Joan Mir and Alex Rins) tussled for 5th.

The Suzuki riders were also hot-on-the-heels, and gaining on last weekend’s winner, Miller – who had managed to make-up one place since the start in 4th.

The battle at the front fought on between the Yamaha and the Ducati, neither one of the racers wanting to give in. All too quickly though Quartararo managed to gain a slight lead on lap 4, which was just enough for Zarco not to be able to fight back.

Gapping started to appear on lap 5, with Quartararo and Zarco in the first group, Oliveira on his own and Miller, Rins and Mir in a battling group.

With the first rule of Motorsport – beat your teammate – ringing in their ears, the reigning World Champion – Mir and his teammate Rins continued to fight for fifth and sixth. With Miller holding and defending his position but a small mistake which took him slightly wide, on the last corner of lap 8, saw Rins go past. The straight was the Ducati’s time to shine and regained the place back with ease. Rins was still hanging on though and passed Miller again, later on the same lap Mir went through on Miller and Binder followed, leaving Jack back in 7th.

Courtesy of: suzuki-motogp.com/press

All the excitement happening behind him – Quartararo extended his lead – 1.792 seconds from Zarco then became 2.201 seconds by lap 10. Arm pump no longer an issue for the young Frenchman and the pressure he admitted he felt last year now in the past, he began to show just how metronomic his laps could be.

Oliveira had condensed the gap between himself and Zarco and had managed to pass him on lap 16. A 4.128 second gap between him and Quartararo however seemed more of an impossible catch. The Ducati power wasn’t enough and the KTM soon pulled away. Leaving Zarco in the clutches of Mir, who soon was able to pass him too.

It was quickly Rins’s turn to go past Zarco with 6 laps to go, taking fourth place. However, whilst trail-breaking into a corner on worn tyres, Rins had his fourth DNF in a row and crashed out, letting Zarco re-gain the position.

On lap 21, it was unfortunately, Honda’s top rider – Nakagami’s turn to also crash out of the race.

But, it was Fabio Quartararo who took the chequered flag for the third time this year and he dedicated his win to the young Dupasquier.

There was controversy with who was second and third on the podium though. Oliveira crossed the line in second and Mir in third. But, Oliveira was given a penalty and had to give a place away for exceeding track limits meaning Mir got second. Minutes later, it became apparent that Mir had the exact same penalty. The decision was made to let them both keep their original results.

Top 10 race results:

First

Quartararo

Second

Oliveira

Third

Mir

Fourth

Zarco

Fifth

Binder

Sixth

Miller

Seventh

A. Espargaro

Eigth

Vinales

Ninth

Petrucci

Tenth

Rossi

It is worth noting that this is Valentino Rossi’s (Yamaha) first top 10 finish in 2021.

Top 5 championship standings:

First

Quartararo

105 points

Second

Zarco

81 points

Third

Bagnaia

79 points

Fourth

Miller

74 points

Fifth

Mir

65 points

Who will be victorious next round in Spain? We haven’t got long to find out.

 

 

 

Thoughts and prayers go out to Jason Dupasquier’s family and friends.

Taken too young – too soon.

Ride on Ja50n Dupasquier.

2001 – 2021 Courtesy of: MotoGP

 

 

(Featured image: Courtesy of MotoGP)

 

A Second Home – Red Bull’s Max Verstappen & Daniel Ricciardo Look Ahead To Spa & Monza | M1TG

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Lewis Hamilton is on Cruise Control Mode

Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Italy.
Saturday 02 September 2017.
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W08 EQ Power+.
World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _31I1954

Lewis Hamilton is on cruise control mode, his steering wheel seems to have an extra hidden button, and the British found it and pressed it with his thumb. At the Italian Grand Prix, Hamilton took his 69th pole-position, he is now the driver with the most pole positions in Formula One, he also became the first driver, in 2017, who won two consecutive races and now he is leading the drivers’ championship by three points from Sebastian Vettel.

In Belgium, Lewis looked comfortable and unbeatable, even at the re-start, after the safety car, when Vettel made his move, the Britt managed to defend his first position and a couple of laps later he increased the gap between him and Sebastian Vettel. By seeing the final gap between the two drivers, after 44 laps, someone might assume that Vettel was pushing and was very close to Lewis, but the reality was totally different. The German, was close but still that was not enough for him to make his move and attack for the first place.

At Monza, the Tifosi were expecting to see a fast and competitive Scuderia Ferrari, but instead of that, Ferrari was not even close to Mercedes. The Silver Arrows, were not stopped by the rain and the hours of delay which took place in the FP3 and during the qualifying session. Lewis Hamilton claimed his 69th pole position, followed by Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. Lance Stroll and Esteban Ocon qualified fourth and fifth respectively, but after the grid penalties which applied almost to every driver on the grid, Stroll promoted to the second position and became the youngest driver who started from the front row.

The two Ferraris qualified seventh (Kimi Raikkonen) and eighth (Sebastian Vettel), both drivers promoted to fifth and sixth respectively. Max Verstappen dropped down to 13th position, while his team-mate started the race from the 16 position.

Lights out

Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Italy.
Sunday 03 September 2017.
World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _31I4027

Lewis Hamilton had a clean start and remained first after lights out, Lance Stroll lost his second position by Esteban Ocon and dropped down to third place. A few laps later Max Verstappen had a collision with Felipe Massa, Max suffered a puncture which cost him time and dropped him at the back of the grid. The stewards decided to take no further action for the incident between the two drivers. Verstappen managed to recover at the end of the race, the Dutch finished 10th ahead of Kevin Magnussen.

Valtteri Bottas, who qualified sixth, had a good start and gained two positions on the first lap of the race. He was behind Hamilton, Ocon and Stroll and it was a matter of time until he was able to attack the two drivers in front of him. The Finn, had a good pace during the race, he completed Mercedes’ 1-2 as he finished second behind his team-mate.

Daniel Ricciardo started the race from the 16th place and finished fourth, a few seconds, behind Sebastian Vettel. The Australian had an amazing race, he passed the slower cars on the first part of the race, while he was on softs. He had the advantage of fresher and faster tyres during the final laps of the Italian Grand Prix. Twelve laps before the chequered flag, the Australian made his move on Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn was unable to defend his fourth position, Daniel took the inside at the first chicane and with an incredible move, he promoted to fourth place. Ricciardo, was gaining on Vettel lap by lap, but he didn’t have enough laps to close the gap with the German, and finished fourth, about four seconds, behind Vettel.

Both McLaren’s drivers watched the end of the race from the garage. Vandoorne and Alonso retired on 33th and 50th lap respectively. Stoffel had electrical issues, whilst Fernando had problems with his McLaren’s clutch.

The next race will take in Singapore, a circuit which suits more to the Ferrari than to Mercedes, Sebastian Vettel is looking to win his fifth race in 2017 and retake the lead in the drivers’ championship. Lewis Hamilton from the other hand, has the momentum. The British driver, looks very strong, he will have to fight hard to keep his lead and his aim will be to expand his winning streak in Singapore.

Victor Archakis

Twitter – @FP_Passion