Ferrari Formula One driver Alonso of Spain drives his car during the second practice session of the Monaco F1 Grand Prix

Alonso on a quest for history in Monte Carlo (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

Ever since its creation in 1929 on the streets of Monte Carlo, the Monaco Grand Prix has rewarded the best of the best.

The list of people that have won it multiple times is a veritable galaxy of Formula One stars, past and present: Ayrton Senna, six wins; Graham Hill and Michael Schumacher, five each; Alain Prost, four; Stirling Moss and Jackie Stewart, three; and seven more with two wins apiece.

The fact that all of these drivers were able to handle a course as difficult as Monaco multiple times over speaks to how great they were and still are.

Five of Senna’s six victories in Monte Carlo were consecutive from 1989 to 1993, and he had eight podiums in 10 overall starts there. From 1984 to 1983, he and Prost were the only drivers to win the race. Then there’s Hill, whose five wins in the Principality nearly made up half of the total win count over his career (there’s a reason why he was dubbed “Mr. Monaco” in his heyday). Schumacher took up the baton in the mid-1990s and kept making his mark on the circuit into the new millennium, while Moss and Stewart dominated primarily in the ’60s and ’70s.

Amongst the group of two-time victors (a group that also features immortals like Juan Manuel Fangio and Niki Lauda) is Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who roars into the Principality on the strength of a clutch victory at Barcelona that bolstered his championship hopes. He still has a long way to go to catch the great Senna as the ultimate king of Monaco, but this weekend, he has the chance to do something neither Senna or anyone else has done: Win the Monaco GP three times with three different squads.

In 2006, Alonso took advantage of pole position (which he achieved after Schumacher was penalized for impeding the Spaniard’s progress during the last moments of qualifying) and won for Renault. Then in 2007, Alonso, who had moved over to McLaren that season, again converted pole into victory ahead of then-teammate Lewis Hamilton in a 1-2 finish for the team.

Monaco has been good to Alonso lately, with back-to-back podiums achieved in his last two runs in Formula One’s most famous race. But can he go one step further and put himself into the record books again this weekend?

Altogether, the Prancing Horse has been thirsty in the Principality for quite some time; Ferrari has not won the Monaco GP since Schumacher’s win in 2001.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
Leave a comment

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
© Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.