F1 Grand Prix of USA - Practice

Rossi impresses in FP1 for Caterham

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American Alexander Rossi put in an excellent effort in this morning’s truncated first practice session for the United States Grand Prix. Rossi had prior track experience at Circuit of the Americas in an old Jim Clark Lotus 49 in the winter, but FP1 marked an opportunity to take over Giedo van der Garde’s Caterham chassis for his second FP1 appearance of the 2013 Formula One season.

Rossi ended the session 19th, seven tenths clear of teammate Charles Pic while running the same program. The Marussias of Max Chilton (20th) and Rodolfo Gonzalez (22nd) sandwiched the second Caterham.

Rossi was one of only five drivers to get laps in before the first red flag. With time and proper laps run, Rossi got down to a 1:41.399 around the 3.4-mile circuit, two tenths up on Chilton ahead of him.

“It wasn’t too bad to be honest,” Rossi explained. “By the third or fourth lap I was very comfortable with where the track went. There’s a ton of information and prep work that goes into it from an engineering side of things. I knew going out what to expect, and because it wasn’t the first year here I had got a lot of input from the team.”

Understandably, there was “no comparison” in trying to drive an iconic, historic chassis versus a modern day car, but Rossi said the overall grip level was fine for FP1.

Having a chance to reflect on his season as a whole, with his first win in GP2 achieved two weeks ago in Abu Dhabi, Rossi said it was important to end on a high note.

“Every year you progress in motorsports, you learn things you didn’t know before,” he said. “To be honest 2013 wasn’t my best year in a junior formula, but the win is the best thing going into the offseason. It was great timing with that and today’s run.”

Asked about next year, Rossi said he has “absolutely no idea” what he’ll be doing.

“All I know is I got to drive an F1 car today. Anytime you get an opportunity to drive an F1 car is special,” he said.

Of the other FP1-only drivers, Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat (driving Jean-Eric Vergne’s chassis) was 17th with Gonzalez, in for Jules Bianchi, 22nd and last and 2.1 seconds off Chilton for Marussia. Gonzalez’s car was smoking toward the end of the session.

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.