F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi - Race

High stakes battles for lower places in constructors’ championship


The championship trophies may have been decided for another year but there are three big battles further down the rankings to keep an eye on in the final two races.

Mercedes vs Ferrari vs Lotus

2. Mercedes 334
3. Ferrari 323 (-11)
4. Lotus 297 (-37)

No one wants to be runner-up in Formula One but the financial reward that comes with it is not to be sniffed at. Particularly for Lotus, who are scrapping with these names despite having half the budget of the likes of Ferrari.

That would make a higher finishing position especially valuable for Lotus who, as last weekend showed, are in need of the funds at the moment. What makes the situation delicate from their point of view is that one of their drivers engaged in the task of trying to take points off Ferrari will be driving for that team next year: Kimi Raikkonen.

Mercedes have edged away from this contest in the last two races but Ferrari expect to be more competitive from now on, particularly in Brazil, where they have tended to go well.

McLaren vs Force India vs Sauber

5. McLaren 95
6. Force India 77 (-18)
7. Sauber 45 (-50)

Two races ago it seemed a foregone conclusion Sauber would overhaul Force India and an outside chance they could catch McLaren. The latter prospect has diminished due to Sauber’s two consecutive no-scores as Nico Hulkenberg has suffered various misfortunes and Esteban Gutierrez has failed to replicate his Suzuka form.

Instead Force India might just pinch fifth in the championship off McLaren.

Marussia vs Caterham

10. Marussia 0 (Best result: 13th)
11. Caterham 0 (Best result: 14th)

Marussia have been ahead of Caterham all season long, mostly thanks to Jules Bianchi’s 13th place in Malaysia. But as they discovered last year, when Caterham turned the tables on them in Brazil, it’s not over until the last lap of the last race.

The prize money gap between the unrewarded 11th place and the top ten earners is believed to be an eight-figure sum, a considerable reward for the smallest teams on the grid.

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.