F1 Grand Prix of Monaco - Practice

Rosberg leads Mercedes 1-2 in Monaco second free practice


Nico Rosberg completed a sweep of Thursday’s two practice sessions for the Monaco Grand Prix. With a little more than an hour remaining in the second 90-minute free practice session, Rosberg dropped in the weekend’s first 1:14 lap with a lap of 1:14.759 around the streets of Monte Carlo.

Lewis Hamilton made it a Mercedes 1-2 for the W04s, albeit some three tenths of a second in arrears of Rosberg. Fernando Alonso was third ahead of his Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa and Mark Webber’s Red Bull.

Rosberg set his fastest time on Pirelli’s supersoft compounds. During the broadcast, NBC Sports Network Formula One pit reporter Will Buxton noted Rosberg was using up his rear supersofts too much, and they were “heavily fried” at one point. On the softs, Rosberg appeared to have an even greater gap to Hamilton. If the Mercedes don’t get into tire degradation trouble as they have tended to do this year, they should emerge as favorites for the rest of the weekend.

Behind the top five, the Lotus pair of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean were next, each still within one second of Rosberg with Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Paul di Resta in the top 10. Vettel, though, set his fastest lap of the day on the soft tire, so he hasn’t yet shown his full hand.

Grosjean’s session was truncated after 30 minutes following a heavy shunt on the exit of Sainte Devote, Turn 1 at Monaco. He locked up his right front supersoft tire on entry, bounded over the kerbs and into the barriers. His car was airlifted out of the spot by crane, quite high above the track, giving onlookers a good view at the floor of the Lotus E21.

The session was red flagged shortly thereafter, but not due to Grosjean’s accident. Kerb damage at Turn 13 caused a four-minute session interruption.

Down at the rear of the grid, Jules Bianchi brought Marussia back ahead of Caterham, and in the process, was close to both Toro Rossos and Valtteri Bottas’ Williams. Bianchi, in 19th, was within eight tenths of the Toro Rosso pair of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne, and six tenths adrift of Bottas’ Williams.

Watch coverage of the Monaco Grand Prix throughout the weekend on NBC (Sunday, 7:30 a.m. ET), NBC Sports Network and live streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra.

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.