WELCOME to our live coverage of all the Supercars action at the 2018 WD-40 Phillip Island 500.
Championship leader Jamie Whincup headed the running after Friday’s practice sessions, two tenths of a second clear of second-placed Scott McLaughlin, who suffered a punctured tyre early in the day’s running.
The schedule for Saturday (all times AEST): 12:05pm — Qualifying for Race 9 (20 Min) 3:45pm — Race 9 (57 laps)
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Hamilton, who led from pole position, was hit with two five-second penalties for pre-race misdemeanours that wrecked his bid for a record-equalling 91st Grand Prix win.
Masi, who took over as the top official at races representing the International Motoring Federation (FIA) in the aftermath of Charlie Whiting’s sudden death in Melbourne last year, flatly rejected Hamilton’s post-race comments.
“I think from an FIA perspective we are there as a sporting regulator to administer the regulations,” the Australian said late Sunday.
“We have the stewards as an independent judiciary to adjudicate those.
“There was an infringement and it doesn’t matter if it was Lewis Hamilton or any one of the other 19 drivers — if a breach has occurred they will consider it on its merits.
“Further to that, I would say they adjudicate it equitably and fairly in the circumstances, taking all of the key elements into account.”
Hamilton was penalised for performing irregular pre-race practice starts in the pit lane exit road and for inconsistent speed on the reconnaissance lap.
The sanctions, widely seen as too severe, effectively ended his hopes of winning in Sochi and levelling with Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 Grand Prix victories.
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Bottas claims Russian GP
Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff and described it as “far-fetched” but the team’s track engineering director Andy Shovlin admitted he was not surprised.
“We didn’t see the first one (start) and when we saw the second one, we thought ‘they’re not going to like that’, but we didn’t think it was dangerous,” Shovlin said.
“When we saw the car position, it wasn’t a complete surprise that they didn’t like it and, no doubt, there may have been teams who flagged it up — as much as whether the FIA or the stewards spotted it themselves.”
Hamilton finished a furious third behind Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, his lead in the drivers’ title race trimmed from 55 to 44 points by the Finn.
Masi ruled out any bias against Hamilton and said his door “is always open”, a phrase he used after a similar spat at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza where the Briton received another penalty that prevented him winning.
“From my perspective, it’s very simple that if Lewis wants to raise something — as I have said to him before and said to all of the drivers numerous times — the door is always open,” said Masi.
“I’m more than happy to discuss anything.” Hamilton was also given two penalty points on his racing license, but this was cancelled after a review. Instead, Mercedes were fined 25,000 euros ($29,000) for each infringement.
There were three penalties of note during the race; one to Ricciardo and two to Hamilton.
The penalties weren’t identical but, even so, how they were received couldn’t have been more different.
Hamilton was pinged for a minor infringement having completed pre-race practice starts in the wrong place on the pit-exit, twice.
As such, he was handed two separate five-second penalties, to which he responded: “Bull****, where is that in the rule book?”
He continued: “I’m pretty sure no-one has got two five-second penalties for something so ridiculous before.
“They’re (stewards) trying to stop me, aren’t they? But, that’s OK. I just need to keep my head down and stay focused and we’ll see what happens.”
‘They’re trying to stop me’
Ricciardo’s reaction to his own five-second penalty — he gained a position illegally by leaving the track’s confines — sat at the other end of the spectrum.
He completely owned it, saying on team radio: “OK, I will drive faster.
“Yeah, that’s my bad. I’ll make up for it.”
Ricciardo did by opening up a large enough gap to Charles Leclerc in sixth to negate the five-second penalty.
Meanwhile, Hamilton served his 10 seconds in the pits and finished a distant third before continuing to vent after the race.
To be fair to Hamilton though, his penalties caused plenty of confusion within Mercedes which claims the race director’s notes permitted the location of his practice starts.
LECLERC NON-PENALTY ‘RIDICULOUS’
While Hamilton’s penalty caused outrage for Mercedes, Leclerc’s non-penalty did the same for Racing Point’s Lance Stroll.
The drivers were involved in a tangle on Lap One that saw Stroll forced to retire from the race. Leclerc’s Ferrari escaped unharmed and he went on to finish sixth.
Stroll was tapped on his right-rear by Leclerc at Turn 4 which span him out and into the barriers to end his race.
The Canadian didn’t mince his words afterwards, saying: “Very sloppy from his part and I gave him all the room.
“I’m quite surprised that he didn’t get a penalty. I gave him plenty of room I did the whole corner on the outside and he just tagged my right rear.
“I gave him all the room I could and it was unlucky but he could have avoided it. He didn’t have to run so wide into me, so I think it’s kind of ridiculous that he didn’t get a penalty.”
Nonetheless, the stewards didn’t agree and the 22-year-old escaped any sanction.
VERSTAPPEN ENDS POINT-LESS RUN IN STYLE
After back-to-back retirements, Max Verstappen was back on the podium on Sunday to breathe life into his season.
“That’s how it should be every single weekend,” the Dutchman said after the race.
“Of course it was not good the last two weekends and I think now, to be back on the podium and in second, I think for us is a great result on a track where normally we are not that competitive, and we never scored a podium before as well, so very happy with that.”
Verstappen still has plenty of ground to make up in the drivers’ standings having fallen 33 points behind Bottas in second.
But Sunday was a major step in the right direction for Verstappen who was also voted as Driver of the Day.
Fabio Quartararo produced a thrilling ride to claim a resounding victory at the Catalunya MotoGP on Sunday, his third of the season which sends him top of the world championship standings.
Joan Mir, on a Suzuki, came through to take second and is now eight points behind Quartararo in the standings, while Alex Rins completed the podium.
The race began in dramatic fashion with Andrea Dovizioso, who led the title race by a single point from Frenchman Quartararo and Maverick Vinales, was taken out in the opening lap after tangling with Johann Zarcho.
Quartararo, on a Yamaha, won the opening two races of the season but has struggled since then, failing to reach the podium in the last five races.
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That opened the door for his rivals, with a historic six different race winners in the opening seven races of the season – and for the first time since 2000, five different countries had been represented in the winners’ circle.
But the 21-year-old, who showed signs of a return to form in last week’s Emilia-Romagna MotoGP when he came fourth, was back to his best in Barcelona, although his bike almost blew the race.
“The race was very hard for me,” said Quartararo.
“My back tyre was completely wrecked and we knew how strong the Suzukis were.
“I am not completely 100 per cent but I went step by step and I am very happy with this win.
“I suffered in my head a lot in the last month, not getting on the podium, it wasn’t easy.”
Drivers survive HUGE crash!
Starting from pole, alongside the fellow Yamahas of Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi, he set a fierce pace which put the pressure on the field, especially those trying to close him down.
One who suffered was Rossi, who had taken advantage of a wobble by Morbidelli with 11 laps to go to move into second spot. In what was his 350th Grand Prix start, the Italian looked on track to score an unprecedented 200th podium
Two laps later, however, trying to make up ground on the flying Quartararo, the 41-year-old slid into the gravel on turn two, his race over.
Morbidelli, who won in San Marino two races ago, looked good to take second but could not hold off Mir who swept past him with two laps to go.
“We had a great race,” said Mir whose second place puts him within touching distance of Quartararo.
“We needed one more lap as I could see that Fabio was losing ground but I couldn’t catch him,” said Mir.
Morbidelli then lost his place on the podium as Rins, who started down in 13th, put the gloss on an excellent race.
Quartararo heads the standings with 108 points, eight clear of Mir.