F1 Grand Prix of Malaysia

Alonso unimpressed by Red Bull pace


Despite trailing SebastianVettel by 22 points in the drivers’ championship, Fernando Alonso has said that he is unimpressed by Red Bull’s pace in the first two races.

“I don’t think Red Bull was too impressive.

“In Australia they dominated all sessions and had a pretty spectacular pace, [in the Malaysian GP] we knew they had problems with degradation and in fact Mercedes was fighting with them until the end.”

When speaking to Autosport, Alonso expressed his confidence in Ferrari’s 2013 title challenge, despite his failure to finish in Malaysia.

“I think we could have been on the podium [in Malaysia]. If we have a weekend with normal conditions, let’s hope we have a good qualifying and pick up good points.

“In China and Bahrain we were ninth and seventh last year, so this year is relatively easy to improve on that, and if we arrive in Europe with three podiums it will be good for our morale.”

Ferrari’s 2012 campaign was hindered by their car, but Alonso managed to finish second in the championship, just three points behind eventual champion Vettel. Therefore, the start the team has made encourages the 2005 and 2006 world champion, although he did admit the first few races are difficult to judge.

“The first two races have been very unstable and we don’t really know the positions of the cars yet. We haven’t seen anyone’s potential yet in qualifying and we don’t really knew where we are.”

Ferrari’s gamble with Alonso failed to pay off in Malaysia, with the team opting not to pit the Spaniard despite his front wing suffering damage on lap one of the race. On lap two, the front wing came loose and went underneath Alonso’s car, causing him to career into the gravel and retire from the race. However, if Ferrari can perform well in China and Bahrain, they will be well placed to challenge Red Bull for the title in 2013.

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.