F1 Testing in Barcelona - Day Three

F1’s five rookies for 2013: What you need to know

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There are just 22 seats to be had in Formula One this year and three of them have gone to up-and-coming talents who are eager to make names for themselves.

Here’s a quick guide to the five new faces in the F1 field in 2013.

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Esteban Gutierrez – Sauber

  • Like fellow Mexican Sergio Perez he is backed by Escuderia Telmex which enjoys funding from the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim
  • Won two F1 support series in their inaugural years: Formula BMW Europe in 2008 and GP3 in 2010
  • Covered 1,720 miles in pre-season testing – more than any other driver

Valtteri Bottas – Williams

  • A protégé of fellow Finn and two-times world champion Mika Hakkinen
  • Appeared in 15 practice sessions for Williams last year
  • Hasn’t started a race since the Macau Formula Three Grand Prix in November 2011

Giedo van der Garde – Caterham

  • At 27 years of age he’s the oldest of F1’s new intake for 2013
  • F1’s first Dutch driver since Christijan Albers started the 2007 British Grand Prix
  • Was team mate to future F1 drivers Sebastian Vettel, Paul di Resta and Kamui Kobayashi at the ASM team in the 2006 F3 Euro Series
  • Won the 2008 Formula Renault 3.5 championship, then spent four years in top F1 feeder series GP2

Max Chilton – Marussia

  • Started his single-seater career at such a young age he required a special dispensation to compete in the British Formula Three championship
  • Hasn’t won a championship in any of the junior categories he raced in
  • Ended last year’s GP2 championship strongly with victory at Singapore lifting him to fourth overall

Jules Bianchi (pictured) – Marussia

  • Has been a Ferrari Development Driver since 2009 and has extensive experience in their cars
  • Drove in nine practice sessions for Force India last year
  • Narrowly missed out on winning the 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 championship following a controversial collision with title rival Robin Frijns
  • Was passed over for the Force India race seat but landed the Marussia drive vacated by Luiz Razia

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 15th and the rookie-of-the-year for 2015, was Gabby Chaves.

Gabby Chaves, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

  • 2014: Indy Lights champion
  • 2015: 15th Place, Best Finish 9th, Best Start 12th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 31 Laps Led, 19.3 Avg. Start, 14.4 Avg. Finish

Some drivers finish better than their performances show. Some drivers have performances better than their results show. The latter statement applied to Gabby Chaves in his rookie year, in what was an impressive first season after making the step up from Indy Lights, which deservedly earned him rookie-of-the-year honors.

The best comparison I’d make for Gabby is of Josef Newgarden in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a first-year driver on a single-car, newish team to the series.

Chaves rarely dazzled in qualifying but that wasn’t his fault; he and engineer John Dick worked well together and Chaves recounted multiple times this year that a tweak here or tweak there, the wrong way, on the aero kit would send them down the wrong setup path.

Results in races didn’t measure up either but again that was through almost no fault of his own. The only time Chaves looked truly like a rookie was at St. Pete, when he had several collisions. Otherwise he was ahead of eventual winner James Hinchcliffe at NOLA before getting punted off, reliable through the month of May in Indianapolis, finally able to break through for a ninth place in Detroit race two, overachieving in Texas, 11th at Milwaukee after some great wheel-to-wheel racing with series winners and champions, and then phenomenal at Pocono as he was on course for a first career win or podium before late-race engine issues – his first DNF of the season.

For both Chaves and Herta, you’d love to see them together for another season, and the results and confidence for both parties will grow as a result. Those who’ve seen Newgarden’s rise over four years with Fisher and now CFH will note the long-term stability, and that’s what Chaves could do if he gets the time.

He planted the seed of being a great IndyCar driver, and he became pretty versatile during the year too with additional appearances in the DeltaWing prototype, a short-track midget and one of Herta’s Red Bull Global Rallycross cars. To boot, he’s a smart, great kid who is mature beyond his years, and someone you should be buying stock in now. Anyone who saw Chaves in the Mazda Road to Indy should not have been surprised by his rookie season in the big cars.

Off The Grid: Monza preview (premieres Saturday 10/10 on NBCSN)

F1 Grand Prix of Italy
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Having already taken you behind the scenes in Barcelona, Budapest, Singapore, Melbourne and Silverstone, Will Buxton and Jason Swales now head to one of Formula 1’s most iconic venues for the latest episode of Off The Grid.

Monza has appeared in all but one F1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950, and is a firm favorite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

However, there is far more to the Italian Grand Prix than meets the eye, as we find out in Saturday’s premiere of Off The Grid: Monza at 9:30am ET (follows Russian GP qualifying).

Having honed his talents in go-karts as a kid, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is now trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of racers. But can he teach Will or Jason a thing or two?

We also catch up with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and get a feel for life on the road as he takes us for a tour of his lavish bus in which he travels in for the European F1 races.

Have you ever wondered just how the suits F1 drivers wear are made? We go behind the scenes at Alpine Stars’ factory in Italy and find out.

Off The Grid: Monza premieres on Saturday at 9:30am ET on NBCSN following Russian GP qualifying.