Dovizioso holds off Marquez during epic battle in Austria

Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso rode a perfect race to close the gap on Marc Marquez in the MotoGP world championship standings.

After back-to-back wins from Marquez in the previous two grand prixs, the Spaniard was neck and neck with Dovizioso right into the final corner but the Italian nipped in front of him to win at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria.

Dovizioso headed polesitter Marquez in morning warm-up ahead of the race and that form continued in the race itself where the two riders conducted a race-long battle and swapped places several times throughout the grand prix.

Dovizioso moved into the lead for the first time halfway through proceedings when he capitilised on a mistake from the Repsol Honda rider.

And the race was decided on the very last corner when Dovizioso was wise to Marquez's dive inside to use the cutback and accelerate his way to victory.

He beat Marquez by 0.176s to win his third race of the MotoGP season and close the gap to 16 points on the Spaniard in the championship standings.

Another Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa made up the third podium place with a smooth ride that saw him take out Yamaha's Valentino Rossi and Johann Zarco in one move before passing early leader Jorge Lorenzo.

Pedrosa came close to the front two on a couple of occasions but failed to match their speed as he finished 2.485s off Marquez.

Lorenzo held onto fourth position from Tech 3's Johann Zarco, while Yamaha's Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi came in at sixth and seventh respectively.

Aspar Ducati's Alvaro Bautista, Avintia Ducati's Loris Baz and KTM wildcard Mika Kallio made up the top ten – with the latter impressively keeping Suzuki's Andrea Iannone at bay.

LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow could only manage 15th position while Tech 3 Yamaha's Jonas Folger was perhaps the most high-profile casualty.

Full Race Result

1 25 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Ducati Team DUCATI 39'43.323 182.6
2 20 93 Marc MARQUEZ SPA Repsol Honda Team HONDA 39’43.499 182.6 0.176
3 16 26 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team HONDA 39’45.984 182.4 2.661
4 13 99 Jorge LORENZO SPA Ducati Team DUCATI 39’49.986 182.1 6.663
5 11 5 Johann ZARCO FRA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YAMAHA 39’50.585 182.0 7.262
6 10 25 Maverick VIÑALES SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP YAMAHA 39’50.770 182.0 7.447
7 9 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP YAMAHA 39’52.318 181.9 8.995
8 8 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA Pull&Bear Aspar Team DUCATI 39’57.838 181.5 14.515
9 7 76 Loris BAZ FRA Reale Avintia Racing DUCATI 40’02.943 181.1 19.620
10 6 36 Mika KALLIO FIN Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 40’03.089 181.1 19.766
11 5 29 Andrea IANNONE ITA Team SUZUKI ECSTAR SUZUKI 40’03.424 181.0 20.101
12 4 45 Scott REDDING GBR OCTO Pramac Racing DUCATI 40’08.846 180.6 25.523
13 3 41 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini APRILIA 40’10.023 180.6 26.700
14 2 17 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Pull&Bear Aspar Team DUCATI 40’10.644 180.5 27.321
15 1 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR LCR Honda HONDA 40’11.419 180.4 28.096
16 42 Alex RINS SPA Team SUZUKI ECSTAR SUZUKI 40’16.235 180.1 32.912
17 8 Hector BARBERA SPA Reale Avintia Racing DUCATI 40’17.435 180.0 34.112
18 38 Bradley SMITH GBR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 40’19.746 179.8 36.423
19 53 Tito RABAT SPA EG 0,0 Marc VDS HONDA 40’25.727 179.4 42.404
20 22 Sam LOWES GBR Aprilia Racing Team Gresini APRILIA 40’35.815 178.6 52.492

Not Classified
43 Jack MILLER AUS EG 0,0 Marc VDS HONDA 27’14.577 180.6 9 laps
9 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA OCTO Pramac Racing DUCATI 8’52.492 175.1 22 laps
94 Jonas FOLGER GER Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YAMAHA 4’51.263 160.1 25 laps
44 Pol ESPARGARO SPA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 3’38.834 142.0 26 laps

‘FIA forced into Halo from a legal standpoint’

Christian Horner says F1 had no option but to include the Halo next season from a "legal standpoint."

With the FIA having opened the door to cockpit protection in the wake of Jules Bianchi's 2014 Japanese GP crash that cost him his life, the sport was forced to carry through with it.

Last season Mercedes introduced the Halo, debuting their concept of cockpit protection.

And that, Horner says, backed the FIA even further into a corner.

"Mercedes came out with that concept (Halo) and it put the FIA in a difficult position," he said.

"If we have an accident now and we don't have Halo on the car, but it might have saved a life, then from a legal standpoint it will be difficult to argue why it wasn't there if it was available."

"That's why we set off to have a look at the Aeroscreen to look at a more aesthetically Formula One-type introduction rather than the flip-flop you see as the Halo.

"Then out of that came the latest Shield that was quite immature but aesthetically was more pleasing than the Halo but has not had enough investment into it or enough time. 

"The FIA have sort of been backed into a corner where the Halo is the only thing available to them.

He added: "My concern is that every racing formula down to karts will have to have this thing – where does it stop? 

"I think that at a certain point, as a driver, you have to accept certain risks."

Hayden looking forward to having ‘more fun’ in Assen

Nicky Hayden is looking to put his poor start to the 2017 season behind him with a strong showing at Assen this weekend.

It is the home round of his Red Bull Honda squad and even more encouraging for Hayden is the fact that he managed to finish third on the same course in 2016 riding for Ten Kate Racing Honda.

Hayden has failed to finish two of the opening six races in this season's World Superbike championship and he is aiming to secure a more positive result in Assen.

“I look forward to racing at Assen. It's a track with a lot of history and it's the home circuit for the team so, after the difficulties we experienced in Aragón almost a month ago, we'll try to have a bit more fun here,” Hayden said.

“It's a very fast and flowing track and a lot comes down to the last chicane, where a lot of races are decided.

“I can't wait to get on track and see where we're at. As usual at this time of the year, the weather plays a key role in the weekend: looking at the forecast it seems like it'll be very variable, so we have to take advantage of every condition and be ready for anything.

“Let's see what we can do: hopefully we'll be able to secure some results we can be happy about.”

Haas boss: Ferrari engine as good as Mercedes, if not better

Ferrari’s Formula 1 engine has caught up with Mercedes’ and may even be better, according to Haas team principal Guenther Steiner.

Ferrari opened the new campaign at the Australian Grand Prix with victory as Sebastian Vettel cruised home to give Ferrari their first opening race win since Fernando Alonso won on his debut in 2010.

The victory kick-started a brand-new era in Formula 1 and put Ferrari on top of the championship standings for the first time since Japan in 2012.

Haas use the same specification power units as Ferrari thanks to a customer arrangement with the Italian team and Steiner believes Ferrari now have the best engine around.

“With the engine, there is not just one area that is better, it’s the whole package that has improved from last year,” Steiner said.

“It’s now as competitive as a Mercedes engine, if not better. Ferrari won in Australia, but everybody is developing and trying to get better. It’s always going to be a development race. They’ve made a good step, and without that help from Ferrari, we wouldn’t be where we are.”

Ecclestone fears Hamilton exit in 2017

Ex-Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone believes ongoing criticism could force three-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to retire at the end of the year.

The 32-year-old is set to embark on his 11th season in Formula 1 and currently has 53 race victories from 188 starts. However, his extravagant lifestyle is under constant media scrutiny.

And it is this factor that could lead to Hamilton deciding to walk away from the sport, according to the now chairman emeritus.

"What worries me a little bit is if Lewis suddenly thinks to himself 'I tell you what I'm going to do, I've had enough people criticising me, I'm going to be on pole in every race, win every race, and stop at the end of the year'," said Ecclestone to Sky Sports F1.

"I hope he doesn't do it."

Ecclestone has also recently claimed that new owners Liberty Media want to erase him from the history books, while also stating that he would have liked one more year in charge.

Enjoy the full experience of the 2017 FIA Formula One season on FOX Sports Play, where you can catch LIVE races from angles unseen before, exclusive interviews, behind the scenes, in-depth analysis and so much more. Don’t miss it!

Hakkinen takes on McLaren role

Double World Champion Mika Hakkinen is back with McLaren after taking on a 'partner ambassador' role.

The Finn competed in 130 Grands Prix with McLaren, winning 20 of them, and lifted two world titles in 1998 and 1999.

In the newly-established role at McLaren, the 48-year-old Hakkinen will work alongside McLaren executive director Zak Brown and the team's marketing staff.

"I've always considered McLaren to be my home in Formula 1, and I still have an enormous place in my heart for everyone in the team," said Hakkinen.

"Of course, the past few years for McLaren haven't been easy, but I've always believed that it's only a matter of 'when' rather than 'if' McLaren will come good again – and I want to play my part in helping that happen.

"Returning to McLaren was an easy decision for me – I've never really lost contact, and I still know a lot of the hard-working men and women there from my eight-and-a-bit seasons with the team.

"I'm also really looking forward to working with Zak, who owns one of my race-winning McLarens from 2001.

"We've spoken about how we can work together, and I can see that he's putting in place the building blocks needed to help McLaren get back to the front.

"I'll be collaborating closely with him during the exciting years ahead."

Grosjean dreaming of ‘big team’ drive

Although proud of what Haas are achieving in F1, Romain Grosjean has not given up on his dream of racing for one of F1’s big teams and winning a World title.

This season will mark the Frenchman's second with Haas having joined the American outfit after four years racing for Lotus.

While Grosjean's decision to sign with newcomers Haas raised a few eyebrows, he admitted early last season that it was partly done to move him one step closer to a "dream" Ferrari seat.

#f1testing #r8g #f1 ? by Jerry Andre

A post shared by Romain Grosjean (@grosjeanromain) on

That failed to come to fruition when the Scuderia opted instead to retain Kimi Raikkonen for the 2017 season.

Grosjean, though, says he is still chasing a "big team" race-seat and has named Ferrari as his number one choice.

Asked if he had contacted Mercedes' Toto Wolff in the wake of Nico Rosberg's retirement, the 30-year-old told Sky Sports: "I'm not saying managers aren't doing the job, but I didn't call myself! It's a great team, it's got a huge history in motorsport. 

"I'd love to drive for Ferrari as well. 

"I want to become World Champion, and to do that you need to get the car. I want to drive for a big team one day, but right now I'm proud of what I've done with Haas so far.

"We're in a much better place than last year, there are always opportunities. I want to say I'm the first Haas driver to get a podium, hopefully, win a race someday."

Enjoy the full experience of the 2017 FIA Formula One season on FOX Sports Play, where you can catch LIVE races from angles unseen before, exclusive interviews, behind the scenes, in-depth analysis and so much more. Don’t miss it!

Honda ‘a little bit scared’ of McLaren situation

Honda chief Yusuke Hasegawa has said he is worried McLaren will be left behind this season due to other teams making big gains with their power units.

McLaren finished rock-bottom of the standings in terms of distance covered at the Circuit de Catalunya, racing through at least seven different power units and suffering four breakdowns in the final two days of testing.

Yet Hasegawa ultimately believes it is the improvements made by other teams that has seen McLaren struggle so much and not primarily because of Honda's reliability.

Asked whether he envisaged McLaren having such a disastrous winter, Hasegawa said that all the issues faced had come as a bit of a surprise.

"Of course not," Hasegawa told Racer.com.

"Of course we knew the performance level but we didn't know the level of the other teams, so from a comparison point of view we are a little bit scared of the situation and it's too optimistic for us to expect a very good result in Melbourne.

"But from a trouble point of view, of course I didn't expect such a wide variety of problems that we suffered.

"Everything that has happened has not been seen on the dyno, I believe. Especially the day two issue and this week's day one issue, we didn't expect such a problem."

"Of course we also improved our engine performance level; however, it looks like the PU performance improvement of the others is better and higher than us. We may even be further back, so that is very disappointing.

"From the settings or a setting point of view we may have some things we can do in these two weeks. In the next two weeks we will try to find some ways of tuning the engine, and it can have better performance [by Melbourne], definitely."

World Champion Rea dominates Race 1 in Thailand

Jonathan Rea secured a third successive victory with a dominant performance in the third race of the Superbike World Championship in Thailand.

Kawasaki Racing Team's Rea, who started the day in pole position, came in ahead of Aruba.it Racing's Chaz Davies and his Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes.

In a 20 lap race, the Northern Irishman took charge of the opening proceedings with his pace no match for Aruba.it Racing's Marco Melandri, Davies or Sykes, with those drivers helping to set the early running.

With nobody challenging Rea for the lead it was down to Davies and Sykes to battle it out for second position with the Aruba.it Racing rider finishing two seconds ahead of Sykes, who had to settle for third.

Melandri was a close fourth, while Pata Yamaha's Michael van der Mark completed the top five with a strong ride.

His Pata Yamaha team-mate, Alex Lowes, finished in sixth, while Althea BMW's Jordi Torres, MV Agusta Reparto Corse's Leon Camier, Red Bull Honda's Nicky Hayden and Red Bull Honda's Stefan Bradl made the top ten.

Full race result:

1. Jonathan Rea GBR Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R 20 laps
2. Chaz Davies GBR Aruba.it Racing Ducati 1199R 6.279s
3. Tom Sykes GBR Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R 8.165s
4. Marco Melandri ITA Aruba.it Racing Ducati 1199R 8.239s
5. Michael van der Mark NED PATA Yamaha YZF-R1 11.384s
6. Alex Lowes GBR PATA Crescent Yamaha R1 14.862s
7. Jordi Torres ESP Althea BMW S1000RR 26.035s
8. Leon Camier GBR MV Agusta RC F4 RR 31.755s
9. Nicky Hayden USA Red Bull Honda CBR1000RR SP2 33.305s
10. Stefan Bradl GER Red Bull Honda CBR1000RR SP2 35.208s
11. Xavi Fores ESP Barni Ducati 1199R 35.428s
12. Randy Krummenacher SWI Puccetti Kawasaki ZX-10R 38.865s
13. Lorenzo Savadori ITA Milwaukee Aprilia RSV4 39.869s
14. Markus Reiterberger GER Althea BMW S1000RR 40.140s
15. Roman Ramos ESP Team Go Eleven Kawasaki ZX-10R 47.407s
16. Alex de Angelis SMR Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R 57.203s
17. Riccardo Russo ITA Guandalini Yamaha YZF-R1 1 laps
18. Ondrej Jezek CZE Grillini Kawasaki ZX-10R 1 laps

Did not finish

19. Eugene Laverty IRE Milwaukee Aprilia RSV4
20. Ayrton Badovini ITA Grillini Kawasaki ZX-10R

Stroll already more ‘confident’ in the car

As Formula 1's pre-season testing draws to a close, Lance Stroll says he is already more confident behind the wheel of the FW40 than he was during the previous week's running.

Stroll made headlines last week in Barcelona as the rookie had three offs in two days, two of which cost Williams valuable track time.

The second of which in fact cost them an entire day's running, as the rookie driver damaged the chassis.

But despite his early troubles, Stroll has had a clean second week behind the wheel and says he's already more confident in the car.

"I guess you could say troubles, but it was also positive last week. There were a lot of positive things from last week that we brought into this week," Stroll said. 

"I don't think people really see it because of the issues that happened, but I felt already confident last week in the car, and this week I feel really confident in the car. 

"Just getting to grips with it, but tomorrow's another big day and looking forward to learning some more tomorrow and bringing it to Melbourne."

His incidents in the opening led to a barrage of criticism, but the 18-year-old is adamant that he won't let it distract him from the job at hand.

"That was last week. What's news is what's happening now in the present. I'm looking at what's happening now in the present. 

"I'm looking at the positive week that we're having so far. Last week is last week. I don't read much of the negative stuff, I focus on my own things."

Experience the full coverage of the FIA Formula One season throughout 2017 on FOX Sports Play, where you can watch LIVE races from angles unlike any other, highlights, interviews, behind the scenes and many more. Don’t miss it!