Will Chinese GP be ‘less aggressive’ on tire use?

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For the first time this season, Pirelli will be rolling out a tire combination of the P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft tires for the Chinese Grand Prix.

“China has often produced some of the best races of the year, where strategy has been at the forefront of the action,” said Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery. “With all our compounds having got softer this year, the degradation is deliberately more extreme leading to increased performance, but history has shown that it never takes too long for the teams and drivers to get on top of the tires.

“Shanghai is less aggressive on the tires than the last round in Malaysia, but we would expect to see the majority of competitors go for three stops — although some may try two.”

Indeed, Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg utilized a two-stop strategy last year at Shanghai, in which he started on the soft tires and then ran his middle and closing stints on the mediums. The plan paid off with Rosberg bagging the first victory for a Mercedes Formula One team since the great Juan Manuel Fangio’s triumph at the 1955 Italian Grand Prix (Mercedes would withdraw from the sport after Fangio’s win and not return until the 2010 season).

Above, Pirelli racing manager Mario Isola shows us what to expect from the medium/soft combination at Shanghai. Don’t miss the UBS Chinese Grand Prix live this Sunday at 2:30 a.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network.

IndyCar star Scott Dixon to test skills on ‘American Ninja Warrior’

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Scott Dixon will be the latest IndyCar driver to enter the realm of reality TV when he auditions in Indianapolis next week for “American Ninja Warrior.”

The four-time IndyCar champion, nicknamed “The Iceman,” thought it sounded fun when he was approached with the idea of trying out. As the competition has drawn near, Dixon is wondering what he got himself into.

“I feel a lot of pressure on this one,” Dixon told The Associated Press before heading to this weekend’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. “When it got to be about a month away, I figured I should start training for it, and it’s pretty hard stuff.”

IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden and Tony Kanaan all auditioned for the show, which follows competitors as they tackle a series of obstacle courses in qualifying rounds across the country. None of IndyCar’s contestants advanced out of the first round and neither did NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Dixon’s appearance comes about the same time the Game Show Network has Sebastien Bourdais as a guest host for “Daily Draw” for the entire week leading into the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Most recently, Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly teamed to finish fourth on “The Amazing Race,” and James Hinchcliffe was a runner-up last year on “Dancing With The Stars.” Castroneves is a former “DWTS” winner.

Dixon, the 2008 winner of the Indianapolis 500 who ranks fourth on IndyCar’s all-time wins list, is accustomed to success. But the New Zealander not so sure he’s going to become the next great ninja. Most of his fitness work focuses on endurance training, and preparing for the obstacle course has taken Dixon out of his element.

“It’s not my wheelhouse,” he said. “This is agility kind of stuff and I’m looking forward to the process. I’m not looking forward so much to the failure, because it’s going to happen at some point, so I guess I just have to make the most of it and enjoy the experience.”

Dixon was famously robbed at gunpoint in the drive-thru of a Taco Bell last year hours after he won the pole for the Indy 500. Asked if his ninja training will have him better prepared should that happen again, he did not think so.

“I suppose if I run away it would help,” Dixon said. “But I don’t exactly have a ninja toolkit to get me through that situation.”