NBC Sports Network Formula One pit reporter Will Buxton and Caterham reserve driver Alexander Rossi, the only American with a valid superlicense, had time in Bahrain to experience something not many civilians get the chance to do: ride on board the USS Typhoon. A host of U.S. Naval ships are in the area.
Formula 1 arrives in Monaco this weekend still reeling from the events of the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks ago.
Not only did Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg take each other out on the first lap of the race, but 18-year-old Max Verstappen became the youngest winner in the history of the sport on his Red Bull debut.
Monaco is ordinarily the biggest race of the year regardless of the circumstances, yet the events of Spain have added an extra edge to this weekend’s grand prix.
Previewing the race with interviews and analysis from the Monaco paddock, NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton brings you the latest edition of Paddock Pass.
Jenson Button was fortunate not to be harmed after a drain cover came loose during practice for the Monaco Grand Prix on Thursday and caused a significant amount of damage to his McLaren Formula 1 car.
With the streets of Monaco forming the racetrack for the grand prix weekend, efforts are made to ensure that parts of the road such as drain covers are either removed or welded down to prevent them from damaging the cars.
Towards the end of FP1, Nico Rosberg sustained a puncture after running wide at Sainte Devote and hitting the drain cover, which then came loose and struck Button’s car.
The McLaren MP4-31 was left with significant damage to its front wing, with Button explaining that it had also affected a number of other parts in the process.
“The day was made tougher for my side of garage by the drain cover, which came loose and broke through my front wing, front suspension, brake duct and floor,” Button said.
“The mechanics did a great job to get the car ready for FP2, but we’ve still got a long way to go until we’re happy with our competitiveness.”
Button said he felt fortunate that the drain cover had remained at a low level and not come up near his cockpit.
“A racetrack is a controlled environment, and we take enough risks as racing drivers,” Button said.
“Normally, the safety standards here are very good, but that incident is something we don’t want to see again.
“It was lucky that the drain cover stayed quite low on the ground.”
McLaren racing director Eric Boullier added: “Jenson was fortunate to emerge unscathed from an incident in this morning’s session when a drain cover smashed into his car.
“The organizers work very hard to ensure this circuit is as safe as possible, but we need to look into exactly what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Daniel Ricciardo has set his sights on winning the Monaco Grand Prix for the first time this weekend after dominating practice on Thursday for Red Bull.
Ricciardo arrived in Monaco with an updated power unit, which combined with the aerodynamic strength of the RB12 car allowed the Australian to finish six-tenths of a second clear of the field in FP2.
The result came as a surprise given Mercedes’ recent dominance and pace in first practice, but Ricciardo is confident that he can carry this form through the rest of the weekend.
“The engine has helped a little bit but obviously we have a good car around here as well, I think it’s down to a little bit of both,” Ricciardo said.
“Let’s see how we go in qualifying on Saturday. We are in a good position, depending on what the track is going to do on Sunday. I have good confidence with the car which is very important around here.
“Come qualifying and race day Mercedes will turn it up but hopefully I can stay in front. I’ll be surprised if we can keep the gap we have today in qualifying but we will see how we go.
“If the weather stays the same for the race and qualifying we won’t change too many things.
“The goal here is pole and win.”
Ricciardo’s best result in Monaco came in 2014, when he finished third behind Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton in his first season with Red Bull.
You might remember earlier this year that Team Pelfrey acquired what had been 8Star Motorsports, for a two-car Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires program. The team is now outright owned by Dale Pelfrey.
While Pelfrey’s name was still on the team’s respective Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and F16000 programs, the team actually had a different team principal in Nigel Tuckey.
On Thursday afternoon, that’s now changed. Pelfrey himself is now back in charge of all Team Pelfrey programs.
The Team Pelfrey teams in the Mazda Road to Indy this year have had a mixed bag.
The Indy Lights team with Juan Piedrahita and Scott Hargrove has one podium (Hargrove second at St. Petersburg), but struggled with a lack of testing and several other issues.
Pato O’Ward meanwhile has won five of the first six Pro Mazda races and is dominating that series title ahead of Aaron Telitz. Weiron Tan ran the opening two weekends at St. Petersburg and Barber but was sidelined at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis weekend, doubtful for a further return.
Things are more fluid in USF2000. Robert Megennis is the team’s lone driver standing with Jordan Cane and James Munro both understood to be out, and T.J. Fischer’s status yet to be determined as Fischer was not on the entry list for this weekend’s race at Lucas Oil Raceway. Cane may reappear with another team later this year.
Here is the team release for more information.
One of the largest teams in the Mazda Road to Indy paddock, Team Pelfrey, is pushing into one of the most important race weekends of the year with a revised team structure, and ready to continue the great on track results.
Dale Pelfrey,founder and owner of Team Pelfrey, has re-acquired control of the team with the focus of bringing all of his teams under the same roof, providing a direct line from entry level open wheel racing all the way to the Verizon IndyCar Series.
“I am extremely appreciative of everything Nigel [Tuckey] has achieved with the team for the past few years.” Commented Pelfrey. “He’s helped build the team into a real powerhouse, and while I’m sad to see him go, what we have done is secure a stronger future for our team. I’m confident we’ve got the best crew and drivers around to keep winning races and championships, and I can’t wait to see what the second half of 2016 has in store.”
While Dale Pelfrey will oversee the outfit that competes in the Formula F1600 Championship Series, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, Jonny Baker will continue in an expanded fashion as Director of Team Operations.
Team Pelfrey will be competing with their star USF2000 driver Robert Megennis and Pro Mazda drivers Pato O’Ward and Aaron Telitz at Lucas Oil Raceway this weekend as a part of the Carb Night Classic event. Team Pelfrey currently lead the Driver and Team championships in Pro Mazda and have also scored two podium finishes with rookie Megennis in USF2000.