F1 Grand Prix of Korea - Race

Boullier unsurprised by double podium for Lotus

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Lotus team principal Eric Boullier has said that he was not surprised to see both of his drivers finish on the podium in Korea, believing that the result reflects that pace of the E21 car.

Having started third, Grosjean ran in P2 for the majority of the race before eventually finishing third behind teammate Kimi Raikkonen who had jumped up the order thanks to the safety car periods.

Speaking to NBC’s Will Buxton, Boullier said: “I don’t want to be arrogant but we were expecting Romain to be on the podium and Kimi to catch up in the top six, so obviously the safety car helped Kimi.

“But with the pace of the car, it should be on the podium.”

After becoming embroiled in a battle with Nico Hulkenberg, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber for fifth, Raikkonen pitted early in an attempt to exploit the undercut and make up the positions. The safety car period allowed him to do this as well as preserving his tires and allowing him to go to the end of the race.

Romain Grosjean had been Vettel’s closest challenger, but a mistake on the restart following the first safety car period allowed Raikkonen to pass. Despite asking to be given the position back, Grosjean was told that he had to race Raikkonen for the place and he eventually finished just half a second behind his teammate.

“I think he [Grosjean] was a bit disappointed because he made one mistake on the restart from the safety car, and Kimi used the opportunity to pass him,” Boullier explained. “I think he was trying to get some help to pass back Kimi but we said “you are racing Kimi”.

“He was allowed to race but he couldn’t and I think he was a bit upset about having lost his position to Kimi.”

Grosjean will remain with Lotus in 2014, and performances such as this will prove that he can lead the team in the post-Raikkonen era as the Finn prepares to return to Ferrari for next season. His replacement is still to be announced, but Nico Hulkenberg and Felipe Massa are thought to be the two prime candidates.

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.