Motorcycle News - Kawasaki to Reveal Six New Models on Nov. 23
Kawasaki confirmed it will launch six new 2021 models for North America, with an updated Ninja ZX-10R expected to be among them. A timer on Kawasaki U.S.A.’s website ticks down to Nov. 23 at 6 am PST for the big reveal. A teaser video and images show six models under cover, with clues hinting at dual sport models and sportbikes.
The teaser images show just a bit of six models’ wheels but we should caution against putting too much stock into their shapes. Kawasaki has been known in past years to use placeholder images, and a couple of the bikes shown here are clear copy and paste jobs of each other. Taking the images at face value, three of the models have wire spoke wheels and the other three have cast wheels.
The first model featured in the video is a dual sport, as the footage shows wire spoke wheels and knobby tires moving from a paved to unpaved surfaces.
The second bike is also shown with wire spokes but the tires are much smoother. The accompanying footage shows close-ups of a race track with a lot of debris and tire marks. Taken together, the clues suggest a supermoto.
The video groups the third and fourth bikes together, which suggests two similar models with slight variations distinguishing them. The two bikes are paired with aerial shots of a race track
The fifth model is also accompanied by track footage, but judging from the foliage and lighting, it looks like a completely different circuit than in the previous shots.
Based on the shots of various terrain and an open highway, the final bike appears to be an adventure touring model. In the screenshot above, we can easily identify a beak-style front fender and a tall windscreen.
Looking at Kawasaki’s returning 2021 models released this week, almost all of the 2020 lineup has been confirmed with bold new graphics. The most glaring omission is the 2021 Ninja ZX-10R, which makes it an obvious candidate for one of the six new models, and a higher-spec ZX-10RR could be another.
All of Kawasaki’s other 2020 Ninja bikes, from the Ninja 400 to the Ninja H2R have already been announced for 2021, as have their naked siblings from the Z line. The Z1000, however, has been absent from the U.S. lineup since 2016. With the Ninja 1000SX getting updated last year, a new Z1000 sharing the same underpinnings would be a logical fit.
The W800 was among the returning models but its Cafe and Street variants were missing. Neither model fits the imagery in the video, and it’s more likely they are being withdrawn from the 2021 lineup. The KLX250 was also not confirmed for 2021, and a replacement could be a candidate for the first bike in the teaser video. A new KLX250SF supermoto version could also make sense for bike #2.
As for the ADV model, we see a few potential options. One candidate people have been hoping for is a Versys-X 400, using the engine from the Ninja and Z 400s. The Versys-X 300, however, has already been announced for 2021, so we can probably rule that theory out. Another option is a more off-road capable Versys 1000 (Versys-X 1000 perhaps?). The big Versys is a fine sport-touring model, with the latest technology (including a new-for-2021 Showa Skyhook Electronically Equipped Ride Adjustment system), but a more adventure-worthy version with wire spoke wheels including a 19-incher up front – that sounds interesting!
Another possibility is a replacement for the much loved but departed KLR650, which, unlike the Versys lineup, actually had a beak. A modern KLR would be welcome for fans of the bike, last offered in the 2018 model year.
We have a while to wait before Kawasaki reveals these six models on Nov. 23. Until then, let us know what you hope to see from Team Green.
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September 30, 2020 at 05:44PM
MotoGP News - Aleix Espargaro “not really enjoying” MotoGP 2020 amid Aprilia struggles
Aleix Espargaro admits he is "not really enjoying" riding his Aprilia MotoGP bike at the moment as he is "fighting for very bad positions".
Espargaro has only cracked the top 10 once this season, when he was 10th at the Czech Grand Prix, and currently sits 17th in the standings on 22 points after finishing a distant 12th in last weekend's Catalunya race.
Aprilia's all-new RS-GP made a promising start to life in the winter tests in Malaysia and Qatar at the start of the year, but engine problems have meant the marque is having to run on reduced power.
Matters haven't been helped by crashing out of both Jerez races and falling on the opening lap of the second Misano race, the Emilia Romagna GP.
"The situation now is not easy, I'm really not enjoying [it] so much because I'm fighting for very bad positions," Espargaro said.
"But, [I'm] excited to gain some tenths circuit by circuit and try to finish the season in the best way possible.
"Especially after the crash I had last week, it was very important to finish the race [at Catalunya] because for the engineers, for the experience, where you gain more data is in the race.
"When you have more tyre consumption, where the engine suffers more is after 40 minutes full gas and this just happens in the race. So, I'm satisfied we could finish.
"But, again, for me I know we have to finish, but to finish in these positions this far from the podium doesn't make me very satisfied.
"I have to finish races because it's my job, but I want to finish closer."
Espargaro said Aprilia had "suffered" in the Catalan GP's abnormally cool conditions, and conceded it is likely to face similar struggles at next weekend's French GP .
"I expect to use the jacket, that's for sure," he replied when asked what he expects from the upcoming Le Mans race.
"Normally our bike is not working very good in the cold conditions.
"I suffered this weekend, and we see normally in the winter tests in Malaysia and Qatar where it's very hot, we were very competitive, in Thailand, Argentina.
"And when we go to very cold tracks like Assen, sometimes in Germany, Le Mans we suffer a bit more.
"So, we have to think a little bit about the balance and the setting of the bike to put the temperature in the tyres.
"Le Mans is a circuit that I like, then we go to Aragon."
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September 30, 2020 at 11:34AM
Motorcycle News - Urban Tracker: A V-Max for a mixed martial arts enthusiast
This Yamaha V-Max is one such machine. It comes from from Motocrew, a spare-time but slick operation run by firefighter Chris Scholtka and based just outside Berlin, Germany.
If you’re thinking the V-Max had a custom vibe right out the box, you’d be right: US-based project leader Akira Araki had help with the styling from custom builder John Reed, an English expat.
The chassis and suspension could barely cope, but that didn’t stop some journalists from foaming at the mouth, entranced by the hot rod vibe.
“The fork swap was easy: it’s just new bearings and shortening the tubes by a centimeter. And the brakes fitted, plug and play.” New YSS shocks help settle the rear end, and there’s a fresh set of Shinko 777 rubber to … well, keep the rubber on the road. Shinko themselves, we’re told, have given Chris the requisite slip of paper to keep the German TÜV inspectors happy.
The mighty fake ‘tank,’ flanked by intakes, is a V-Max signature so it remains. But the back end is new, crafted in metal by Chris himself. The original cruiser-style seat is gone, and Chris shaped up a new perch, retaining access to the real under-seat gas tank. A local friend upholstered the pad in black Alcantara.
To amp up the stealth factor, Chris got the tank, new rear end and ‘intakes’ painted in a mix of gloss and matt black by a friend. He handled many of the other parts himself—like the frame, triple trees, engine, swingarm and wheel rims.
The only problem right now is the very basic and illegal exhaust system. “The exhaust is temporary, for the shoot, because the German laws are stupid. They make it simply impossible to build a good-looking exhaust for the V-Max. But I’m onto it…”
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September 30, 2020 at 07:26AM
Motorcycle News - Ready for Action – Hellraiser R100 Scrambler
We have a serious soft spot for BMW cafe racers but we’re also big fans of Scrambler styled Beemers. There’s something about the geometry and engine layout of old airheads that gives them a utilitarian look perfectly suited to the Scrambler style. Of course, the brand’s history plays a big part in this. A quick search online and you’ll find photos of military BMW’s shod in chunky rubber and stripped down to the bare essentials. Tom Gough from Hellraiser Garage knows exactly what I’m talking about. Their latest project, an ’81 BMW R100 Scrambler, is a shining example of how well these Bavarians are suited to the Scrambler style.
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September 30, 2020 at 05:31AM
MotoGP News - Ducati promotes Bagnaia to works MotoGP team, Zarco moves to Pramac
Ducati has announced it has chosen Francesco Bagnaia to replace the outgoing Andrea Dovizioso for the 2021 MotoGP season, while Johann Zarco steps up to Pramac as a works rider.
Dovizioso announced during the Austrian Grand Prix weekend in August that he would not be extending his stay with Ducati beyond the 2020 season.
Numerous names quickly entered the frame for his spot alongside Jack Miller, with the latter's current Pramac team-mate Bagnaia and Avintia rider Zarco the favourites - while three-time MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo "proposed" himself for the seat.
Bagnaia has arguably been the strongest Ducati rider this season, having been set for a podium in the Andalusian GP until a mechanical issue robbed him.
He finished second in his return from a three-race absence through injury at the San Marino GP and was on course to win the following week's Emilia Romagna race before crashing out of the lead.
Signed to join Ducati and Pramac at the start of 2018 ahead of his title-winning run in Moto2, Bagnaia - currently 13th in the standings - will make the step to the works squad in 2021.
"I chose to be a Ducati rider even before being the Moto2 World Champion in 2018 and they chose me even before knowing that one day I would become one," Bagnaia said.
"This was our bet, because up until that moment I had always been a fast rider, but I didn't have anything concrete in my pocket: Ducati decided to believe it even before everyone else.
"We didn't know how it would go, but as of today, if I had to go back, I'd do it all over again.
"My MotoGP debut was not easy, but at Ducati they never questioned me: they gave me all the support and confidence a rookie needs and they let me experience in 2019.
"I listened to them, I trusted them, together we learned to know and understand each other, and now we form a great team.
"They taught me a working method that allowed us to take great satisfaction and I think it's just the beginning.
"Today I am the happiest person in the world, for me it is a dream come true: being a factory Ducati rider has always been my ambition and I have succeeded together with all those who have always believed in me even when things did not go right."
Zarco signed directly for Ducati to join Avintia - having initially rejected the proposal - last November at the end of a difficult 2019 in which he quit KTM, fielding year-old GP19s with some technical support from the factory.
He scored pole position and a third at the Czech Grand Prix on the bike, putting himself firmly in the frame for a promotion.
Currently 15th in the points, Zarco will join Moto2 frontrunner Jorge Martin at Pramac as a fully-supported works rider on current-spec machinery.
Moto2 title contender Enea Bastianini will step up to MotoGP next year with Avintia, though an official confirmation of this has not been made yet.
Dovizioso has no "plan B" for his 2021 season, though has been linked to Aprilia, while Danilo Petrucci will join the KTM-backed Tech3 squad next year.
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September 30, 2020 at 04:13AM
Motorcycle News - 2021 Ducati Multistrada V4 to be Revealed Oct. 15
Ducati has started teasing a new model reveal for Oct. 15, with all indications suggesting it will be for the new Multistrada V4. Contrary to our initial report, however, it looks like the engine might be going smaller than the Panigale V4’s 1103cc engine and not larger to 1158cc.
Ducati released teasers across its Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram channels, all showing different pictures of four pistons and the description: “4 is lighter than 2. It can also be more compact.” Ducati also launched a landing page on its website for the new model, listing three more hints or “theorems” scheduled for Oct. 1, Oct. 8, and Oct. 13. There’s also an image depicting the four pistons and both a paved and unpaved surface, which suggests an adventure bike such as the Multistrada V4.
Let’s take a moment to acknowledge that our initial theory about a 1158cc Multistrada was incorrect. We based that hypothesis on Ducati listing an 1158cc V-Four engine on a vehicle identification number (VIN) decoding document filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, along with a mysteriously named “1706 Project” model. Ducati had also previously said the Multistrada V4 would have a “new, specific V4 engine”. We put two and two together and assumed the new 1158cc would be that specific Multistrada V4 engine.
It seems adding two and two refers to a different four (or V4, in this case), as Ducati hints at a smaller bore for the Multistrada, saying: “the adaptation of V4 to a smaller bore achieves the objective of a weight reduction of 1.2 kg compared to the previous V2 generation.” Our original logic was sound, but does not fit the new information from Ducati.
The pistons are also stamped with the code “1707-1D”, which may suggest that the Multistrada V4 is actually Project 1707 and not the 1706 mentioned in the VIN document. The VIN document also mentioned an 1803 Project as a new liquid-cooled Monster, and a 1703 Project, though there are no clues to the latter.
If the Multistrada V4 is going for a smaller bore, we’re likely looking at an engine that fits between the Multistrada 1260 and Multistrada 950 V-Twins. Our initial 1158cc theory would have fit right in, but Ducati’s clues suggest something below 1103cc. Reducing the bore from the Panigale V4S’ 81.0 mm to 79.0 mm while keeping the 53.5 stroke, for example, would put us around 1049cc, while a 77.1 mm bore would put us close to 1000cc.
As for the 1158cc V-Four from the VIN decoder, it’s possible this refers to a larger engine for the Panigale V4 and V4S as part of a Euro 5 update. The Panigale V4R will also need to be updated to meet Euro 5 standards, but as a racing homologation model, it will be restricted to a maximum 1000cc displacement.
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September 29, 2020 at 11:57AM
F1 News - Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes driver admits he 'may not always get it right'
Lewis Hamilton has admitted he "may not always get it right" after accusing Formula 1 bosses of "trying to stop him" at the Russian Grand Prix.
Hamilton lost the lead of the race as a result of a 10-second penalty for making two practice starts in the wrong place.
"I may not always react the way you want me to when tensions are high," Hamilton posted on social media.
"But I am only human and I am passionate about what I do."
He went on: "I'll take my lessons and keep fighting on to the next one. I may not always get it right in the face of adversity."
Hamilton was initially also given two penalty points on his licence for the incident, although these were later rescinded after Mercedes and Hamilton gave evidence that the team had instructed him that it was acceptable not to do his starts in the usual place.
Immediately after the race, Hamilton was asked whether he thought the penalty was excessive. He told Sky Sports: "It's to be expected. They're trying to stop me, aren't they?"
A few minutes later, asked in the news conference for written media whether he felt F1 bosses really were trying to hold him back, Hamilton said: "I don't necessarily think it's for me.
"Whenever a team is at the front, they are under a lot of scrutiny. Everything we have on our car is being triple checked and triple checked. They are changing rules, such as the engine regs, lots of things to keep the racing exciting, I assume.
"I don't know if the rules in terms of what happened today was anything to do with it, but naturally that's how it feels. It feels we're fighting uphill. But that's OK. It's not like I haven't faced adversity before."
In his message on social media on Tuesday, Hamilton said he was "learning and growing every day".
Hamilton posted the message of his own volition, BBC Sport has been told. He had not been contacted by F1 bosses over his remarks.
Hamilton went into the race 55 points - more than two clear wins - ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the World Championship.
Bottas won the race and cut Hamilton's lead to 44 points with seven races remaining.
Drivers criticise penalty system
Although Hamilton's penalty points were removed, the incident highlighted dissatisfaction among the drivers as to the manner in which the system is applied.
Hamilton, Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel all said that the points were being issued for the wrong reasons.
The penalty points system was introduced in a bid to stamp down on dangerous and reckless driving after current Haas driver Romain Grosjean was involved in a series of first-lap crashes in 2012.
But the incidents involving Hamilton in Sochi were the latest in a series of situations in which points have also been handed to drivers for incidents where there was no risk involved.
Hamilton said: "[Penalty points] from a driver's point of view should be if you put somebody else in danger, if you crash into somebody. Of course [then] you should be getting penalty points. I did not harm anybody, didn't put anyone in harm's way."
Verstappen added: "If it's a crash you caused, I can understand they want to hand penalty points to calm you down.
"But things like this; Lewis didn't do anything on purpose to create an issue. He just wanted to practise a start.
"Maybe it was not allowed there. OK. But he was already penalised enough by the penalty in the race. You don't need to hand out penalty points for that. I guess we will talk about it in the next [drivers'] briefing we have and see if something will happen or not."
Vettel said: "If you really do some crazy moves on the track and some dangerous driving, then they're justified. But if you're speeding in the pit lane or minor infringements, it's probably not the point to apply penalty points."
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September 29, 2020 at 08:09AM
F1 News - Mick Schumacher one of three Ferrari academy drivers to make F1 race weekend debuts
Mick Schumacher is one of three Ferrari academy drivers who will be given Formula 1 race weekend debuts in forthcoming races.
Schumacher, son of seven-time champion Michael, and British driver Callum Ilott will both drive in first practice at the Eifel Grand Prix on 9 October.
German Schumacher will drive an Alfa Romeo and Ilott a Haas. Both are Ferrari-affiliated customer teams.
Russian Robert Shwartzman will drive at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The team Shwartzman will drive for has not yet been revealed.
Schumacher and Ilott are first and second in the Formula 2 championship with two races remaining, while Shwartzman is fifth.
It is expected that at least one of the three drivers will be promoted to F1 next year, with Alfa Romeo and Haas the teams most likely to take them.
In preparation for their F1 weekend debuts, all three drivers will test at Ferrari's Fiorano test track on Wednesday in a 2018 F1 car.
Schumacher said: "I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice. The fact that my first participation in a Formula 1 weekend will take place in front of my home audience at the Nurburgring makes this moment even more special.
"For the next 10 days I'm going to prepare myself well, so that I can do the best possible job for the team and gain some valuable data for the weekend."
Ilott described the test as "a real privilege", adding: "It's amazing to have this chance at a track that is one of my favourites - it was where I scored the first podium of my career back in 2015."
Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies, who is also the director of the Ferrari driver academy, said: "We wanted to organise this test session so that our three best youngsters would be as well prepared as possible to tackle an event that will always be a special moment for them.
"It will be a chance to get to grips with a Formula 1 car, which is much more complicated than the car they are currently used to driving."
Schumacher and Ilott have already tested an F1 car, Ilott in an Alfa Romeo in a test at Barcelona after this year's Spanish Grand Prix, and Schumacher in a Ferrari at Sakhir after last year's Bahrain Grand Prix.
The run at Abu Dhabi on 11 December will be Shwartzman's first time in F1 car.
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September 29, 2020 at 07:57AM
MotoGP News - Marquez "expected more" from Catalan MotoGP
Honda's Alex Marquez "expected a bit more" from the MotoGP Catalan Grand Prix finishing 13th and 17 seconds off the lead owing to a mistake over his front tyre choice.
Marquez made a step forward in adapting to the RC213V in his rookie season in the Emilia Romagna GP at Misano, where he finished a career-best seventh - though admitted it wasn't a "real" result due to the high attrition rate.
Once again struggling in qualifying down in 18th, Marquez opted for the medium front tyre but feels this was the "wrong" choice for him and "suffered a lot" in the race as a result.
However, he believes this will allow him to learn and make him "stronger" for future races.
"After Misano, here I expected a bit more," Marquez said. "It's a track that I love and I had good results in the past.
"So, I expected more. But I was wrong with the front tyre choice. I was suffering a lot all the race, but races like this where you suffer a lot you also learn a lot for the future.
"I think it will make me stronger for the moments that we will struggle more like today's race.
"So, I will learn from this decision before the race, and then for Le Mans we will have a more clear idea.
"I expected to be a little bit closer to the front and not 17 seconds [back]."
Crutchlow "pleased" with top 10 on return
LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow ended his first race since August's Styrian Grand Prix inside the top 10 after a race-long battle with Yamaha's Maverick Vinales.
Crutchlow admitted after qualifying he was worried about how his still-recovering right arm would cope across the 24-lap race, and says it wasn't perfect on Sunday.
Though pleased with the result, he says he was unable to try the set-up he really wanted during practice and this meant the bike he had for the race quickly wore out the rear tyre.
"I wish I would have been able to be a bit faster," he said. "My arm in the race was not fantastic, but it's still recovering. But pleased to be back, pleased to finish.
"I didn't have a bad pace, but I didn't have a great pace. Seems that we went, with the bike setting we had, through the rear tyre a bit too much.
"But over the weekend we were dealing with other things, so I never got to try the setting that I really wanted to try.
"But I think we did a good job, and with this topsy turvy championship we have I was battling with last week's race winner. To come back from having some races off, to have a top 10 was not too bad. But I wish I was able to be a bit faster."
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September 29, 2020 at 09:31AM
F1 News - Jolyon Palmer column: Five lessons from the Russian GP
Former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer, who left Renault during the 2017 season, is part of the BBC team and offers insight and analysis from the point of view of the competitors.
The Russian Grand Prix will not go down as a classic.
Lewis Hamilton's penalties killed off what could have been an intriguing battle for the race win, and there was precious little action down the field.
But a boring race on a bland track has nevertheless brought to the fore a number of key themes emerging in Formula 1 as the season heads towards its final phase.
Hamilton in the firing line - again
Hamilton feels like public enemy number one with governing body the FIA right now, after receiving a penalty that cost him a probable race win for the second time in three races.
With his lead at the top of the championship seemingly unassailable even at this early stage, Hamilton came out after the race with the bold claim that the race stewards were "trying to stop me".
The reality is that Hamilton and Mercedes have simply broken the rules both times.
In Monza, Mercedes and Hamilton pitted when the pit lane was closed and received a penalty for it - the same one as Antonio Giovinazzi's Alfa Romeo was given for the same infringement.
None of Hamilton's immediate rivals made the same mistake in Monza and nobody else in the field broke the rules by doing a practice start at the exit of the pit lane in Sochi.
The regulations stated that drivers must do practice starts on the right after the pit-lane exit lights. Mercedes argued that there was no designated spot - in terms of anything delineated by markings - but they know the rules define a specific place, and everyone else managed to use it.
I do sympathise with Hamilton, because it is not necessarily his fault in both of these instances.
His Mercedes team let him down by telling him to pit in Monza, and when Hamilton asked on the team radio whether he could do a practice start from further down the pit lane in Russia, his race engineer Pete Bonnington gave Hamilton the green light to do it. The problem was, Hamilton went a lot further down the pit lane than the team had expected.
It's harsh for him to lose two races in this manner, and the fact that he picked up penalties for both infringements (doing a practice start in the wrong place on consecutive laps) will only grate that bit more, and perhaps seem over the top.
The fact is, though, that Hamilton wanted to do a practice start there, rather than in the designated practice start box, because it was less grippy than the practice area, and therefore more like the grid slot he would be starting on in the race. It would give him a better feel for the start.
If this was allowed, everyone would do it. The practice-start box has more rubber down because that is the place drivers can practise their starts. So every other driver who complies with the regulations does their starts there and little by little rubber from their rear tyres is deposited on to the asphalt.
Sure, it's not always ideal for race-start preparation, but they are the rules and Hamilton was the only one to do something different. He did it twice, and he was penalised accordingly.
In summary, I don't think the FIA stewards are against Hamilton, they are simply applying penalties for breaches of the rules.
Sometimes they seem harsh, but I'm sure Haas were arguing the same in Hungary when both drivers were given the same penalty as Hamilton for being told to pit on the formation lap.
All these instances are procedural infringements which leave little wriggle room in terms of application of the rules. In that sense, they are unlike racing incidents, which can be argued against as they aren't always black and white.
A bad track gives a bad race
The Sochi Autodrom winds its way around the 2014 Winter Olympic park. Combined with its location on the shores of the Black Sea, with mountains as a backdrop, it should create a nicely atmospheric setting.
But looks can be deceptive. The reality is that it's a circuit that lacks much character. It's almost entirely flat, and every corner seems almost the same - an approximately 90-degree turn. The only exceptions are the slightly trickier - but still 90-degree - chicanes of Turns 13-16.
It's certainly not any driver's favourite venue.
This year, Sochi followed on from the debut of Italy's Mugello track, which I praised in my last column for its old-school characterful feel. In that context, I'd argue the new-school sanitised feel of Sochi did little to help the excitement.
There have been seven Russian Grands Prix at Sochi now, and it has yet to produce a properly decent race. Overtaking is tricky and cars often spread out, despite the track having a high chance of a safety car.
Statistically, that safety-car probability will be even higher next year, after first-lap crashes for McLaren's Carlos Sainz and Racing Point's Lance Stroll. But the safety car on Sunday did little to spice up the action - unlike in Mugello.
Turn Two at Sochi has come under some scrutiny, specifically for the way the policing of track limits and rules about rejoining the track led to incidents and penalties.
Britain's George Russell labelled the corner "one of the worst on the calendar". And with a combination of track-limits madness and a lack of overtaking it's a thought that many share.
Sainz hit the wall in the run-off area trying to go too fast though the bollards before rejoining the track, and Renault's Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull's Alex Albon received penalties for not going through the run-off in the correct manner. Drivers are meant to lose heaps of time by swerving left to go through the bollards next to the wall Sainz hit, even if they slide off track by only a few millimetres.
Race director Michael Masi admitted after the race that there was room for improvement here.
At the end of Sochi's kilometre-long main straight, a tighter corner may help overtaking and also perhaps reduce the corner-cutting issue that the following kink causes. Several drivers have spoken about this, and perhaps a change here can produce some better Russian Grands Prix in the future.
In defence of this year's race, without Hamilton's penalty, it may have been set up for a good race with offset tyre strategies between the Mercedes drivers, but we were denied a chance to see that play out.
Perez shining in adversity
Sergio Perez is on the back foot because his seat at Racing Point has been taken by Sebastian Vettel for next season and he is looking for a drive in 2021.
But he is putting in some good performances in the face of adversity to solidify his reputation and plant himself firmly on the radar of other teams.
For the second race in a row, Perez has had to race a car without new upgrades, after they were once again given to team-mate Lance Stroll following his crash in Mugello.
Despite that, Perez was best of the rest in both qualifying and the race in Russia, and well ahead of Stroll. He beat fifth-placed Ricciardo by 22 seconds - pretty much a full pit stop.
He has had a public falling out with the team after being dropped at the end of the season, despite having a contract in place. He has clearly felt poorly treated by a team he helped save a couple of years ago by taking them into administration and forcing a sale to Lawrence Stroll.
In spite of this, Perez is capable of delivering good results, and his fourth place is a demonstration that he does deserve a place in a decent car next season as well.
Vettel counting down the days
Next season can't come soon enough for Vettel. Ferrari have a poor car this season and the four-time champion has never looked comfortable in it.
Team-mate Charles Leclerc has pulled a few star performances out of the Ferrari and on Sunday he finished a very credible sixth from 11th on the grid.
In contrast, Vettel had another weekend to forget. He crashed in qualifying while trying to make up a 0.4-second deficit to Leclerc, and then never made an impact in the grand prix after a long first stint.
The Ferrari is certainly a handful with which Vettel is struggling to make any progress, but on top of that his relationship with the team has soured in a similar way to Perez's at Racing Point.
There has been needle between Vettel and team principal Mattia Binotto all season long since it was confirmed Vettel hadn't retained his drive.
Vettel doesn't seem to trust the Ferrari strategists at all this year - and this is not the first season in which that has been apparent. He is debating and often overriding some of their in-race calls. But more importantly he seems to have lost his usual mojo for racing and performance. It almost looks as if he is seeing out this year in a holding pattern.
I'm sure a fresh challenge at Aston Martin will reinvigorate Vettel and he probably can't wait for it to come around already.
Ricciardo puts heat on Ocon
Ricciardo has been outstanding this season, and produced another excellent drive in Russia.
When he was given a five-second penalty for exceeding the track limits at Turn Two, his radio message spoke volumes for his confidence. "Yeah, that's my bad; I'll make up for it," he said, adding: "I'll drive faster."
He is driving the wheels off his Renault and has been unlucky not to be on the podium already this season with fourth places at Silverstone, Spa and Mugello.
Ricciardo is making it a very tough return season for Esteban Ocon, a young French star who has seemed destined for greatness.
Ocon was seen as a man of the future by many after beating Max Verstappen to the European Formula Three title on their way up through the ranks, and he impressed for Force India against Perez in the first phase of his F1 career.
Ricciardo is showing top-class driving in a midfield team, but if Ocon was thinking things might get easier when it was announced the Australian would be off to McLaren for next year, he may have been mistaken.
Fernando Alonso is returning to Renault to fill Ricciardo's shoes in 2021, and with the Spaniard's recent visit to the team's factories and insistence on being closely in the loop through the remainder of this year as well, it seems he could be at least as stiff competition for Ocon.
If Alonso comes back at somewhere near the level he left F1 a couple of years ago, then Ocon will need to raise his game in the remaining races and through the winter to not be left behind.
He only has to look at the podium interviewer last weekend to see the risks. Stoffel Vandoorne was the man with the microphone. He was dropped from F1 after a tough season in 2018 against Alonso
Ocon has had promising moments but is yet to look fully on top of things in 2020.
via BBC Sport - Formula 1 https://ift.tt/OHg7x6
September 29, 2020 at 06:03AM