Webber 21-11

2013 Brazilian Grand Prix Preview

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The 2013 Formula One season comes to a close this weekend with the Brazilian Grand Prix in Interlagos, Sao Paulo, and with both championships sewn up long ago, a more relaxed atmosphere could be expected at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace. However, this race is perhaps one of the most important of the season as it marks the end of an era in many ways. This will be the last race using V8 engines (with turbocharged V6s inbound for 2014) and the last race in Mark Webber’s Formula One career, and it could prove to be the finale for a number of other drivers who are currently without a seat for next season.

Interlagos has a habit of producing the unexpected, meaning that whilst Sebastian Vettel is chasing a record-equalling ninth consecutive victory, his charge could be hindered by a number of factors. Given that Red Bull’s ascension to the front of the field came with the last raft of regulation changes in 2009, the possibility of the opposite in 2014 means that this could be the last race in the team’s era of dominance in the sport. The neutral can wish…

2013 Brazilian Grand Prix Talking Points

Webber hopes to leave his Mark

Mark Webber’s eleven year stint in Formula One will come to an end on Sunday, and he will be hoping to wave goodbye by claiming his tenth and final victory in Brazil where he has won twice before. It would be the fairytale ending for a driver who has never been one to conform and follow the crowd, but regardless of the result, thanks for the memories, Mark.

Seb’s planning to rain on his teammate’s parade, though

The stumbling block for Webber will be, as it has been all season, stablemate Sebastian Vettel. The German driver is looking to equal Alberto Ascari’s record of nine consecutive wins in Brazil and Schumacher’s tally of thirteen for a season. Given his form, of course, it’s hard to see this not happening. With a fresh gearbox to boot, don’t expect him to do Webber any favors as their frosty relationship comes to an end this weekend.

Did someone mention rain?

2013 has been one of the driest seasons in memory, with the intermediate tires being used for just a few laps in Malaysia and the wets not seeing any race running. Therefore, the ‘unexpected’ has rarely happened. This weekend though, heavy rain is forecast for the race on Sunday. Interlagos and precipitation is a marriage made in heaven, so expect 2013 to go out with a bang this weekend.

One last chance to impress

A number of drivers – Sergio Perez, Heikki Kovalainen, Nico Hulkenberg, Esteban Gutierrez, Paul di Resta, Adrian Sutil, Pastor Maldonado, Charles Pic, Giedo van der Garde and Max Chilton – all head into the final race of the year without a firm drive in 2014. As a result, this race is a final opportunity for them all to prove their worth and secure a seat on next year’s grid.

Marussia vs Caterham: Round 2

As per 2012, Marussia enter the final round of the season leading the ‘battle of the backmarkers’ for P10 in the constructors’ championship by virtue of Jules Bianchi’s thirteenth-place finish in the Malaysian Grand Prix. If they are to recover tenth place – and the prize money that comes with it – Caterham require a top thirteen finish. Impossible? That’s what we said last year, but Vitaly Petrov managed to pass Charles Pic (then with Marussia) in the final few laps to move up into P11 and secure the place for Caterham. Will we see an equally-dramatic battle ensue this weekend?

Track: Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace
Laps: 71
Corners: 15
Lap Record: Juan Pablo Montoya 1:11.473 (2004)
Tire Compounds: Medium (option); Hard (prime)
2012 Winner: Jenson Button (McLaren)
2012 Pole Position: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 1:12.458
2012 Fastest Lap: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 1:18.069
DRS Zones: T15 to T1; T3 to T4

Friday – Free Practice 1: 7am ET
Friday – Free Practice 2: 11am ET (LIVE on NBCSN and on NBC Sports Live extra)
Saturday – Free Practice 3: 8am ET
Saturday – Qualifying: 11am ET (LIVE on CNBC and on NBC Sports Live extra)
Sunday – Race: 12pm ET (LIVE on NBC, pre-race show starts at 11am ET and on NBC Sports Live extra)

Alonso targeting ‘decent points’ in Monaco from P9 on grid

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 26: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team McLaren MP4-31 Honda RA616H Hybrid turbo on track during practice for the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 26, 2016 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
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Fernando Alonso believes that “decent points” are within his reach in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix from ninth place on the grid.

Alonso reached Q3 for just the second time this season in Monaco, qualifying 10th overall for McLaren.

The Spaniard will gain a position for the start of the race by virtue of Kimi Raikkonen’s grid penalty, giving him a good chance to add to the points he scored in Russia earlier this month.

“We had a little bit of stress with the red-flag stoppage in Q1: we only had six minutes left and I hadn’t set a time,” Alonso explained.

“Our main goal today was to get into Q3, but I still don’t really feel confident with the car – I didn’t have a perfect feeling with it, and I wasn’t therefore confident enough to really attack the corners.

“Our predictions ahead of this weekend were maybe a little over-optimistic, but let’s see what happens tomorrow.

“We’ll need some rain, snow or whatever to give the race a little bit of action – the start will dictate the complexion of the race, but hopefully the weather will make the show more exciting.

“It would be great to come out of the weekend with some decent points.”

Teammate Jenson Button was unable to make it through to the final stage of qualifying, finishing 13th in Q2 in the second McLaren MP4-31 car.

“My lap in Q1 felt okay, then the balance went away from me as the circuit gripped up,” Button explained.

“On my final run in Q2 I had front-locking into Turn 3, locked the front-left and overheated the tire, which meant I lost front-end grip after that.

“Still, this is Monaco, and anything can happen. The first corner is usually eventful; then, after that, it’s about sitting behind the guy in front.

“You can try and dive down the inside of another car into Turn 10, but that’s a no-go for us because we’re too far back by the time we get to that part of the track.

“So, as I say, I’ll be hoping for rain tomorrow.”

The Monaco Grand Prix is live on NBC from 7:30am ET on Sunday, with F1 Countdown beginning on NBCSN at 7am ET.

VIDEO: Ride onboard with Ricciardo on his Monaco pole lap

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Daniel Ricciardo’s charge to pole position in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix came as a surprise to many in the Formula 1 paddock as Mercedes’ streak of pole positions came to an end.

It was just the third time since the start of the V6 turbo era – 44 races ago – that either Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg did not claim pole position, and arguably just the second where Mercedes had been simply outpaced.

Ricciardo enjoyed an edge during practice before producing a stunning lap of 1:13.622 in Q3 to score his first pole position in F1.

In the video above, you can ride onboard with Ricciardo as he tames the fearsome Monaco street circuit, overcoming one of the biggest challenges in racing.

The Monaco Grand Prix is live on NBC from 7:30am ET on Sunday, with F1 Countdown beginning on NBCSN at 7am ET.

Verstappen to start from back row in Monaco after qualifying crash

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Two weeks on from his shock maiden Formula 1 victory in the Spain, Max Verstappen came back down to earth with a bump in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix after a crash resigned him to the back row of the grid.

Verstappen clipped the inside of the wall at the Swimming Pool chicane, breaking his front axle and sending him straight into the barrier at the exit of the corner.

The Dutchman walked away from the incident unharmed, but having not set a time in the session, he was classified in 21st place.

Speaking to NBCSN after the session, Verstappen admitted that the crash was down to driver error despite not pushing as hard as he could have.

“I was was not pushing to the limit,” Verstappen said.

“I just turned in too early. If you’re pushing to limit, normally you would go off track or miss the corner. I just in turned early.”

Wet weather is forecast for Sunday’s race, but Verstappen still feels that it will be difficult for him to salvage anything from the weekend after this error.

“Hopefully it will help a bit, but obviously on this track it will be very difficult to overtake.”

Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo stormed to his first F1 pole in qualifying, leaving the team with two very different races to manage on Sunday.

The Monaco Grand Prix is live on NBC from 7:30am ET on Sunday, with F1 Countdown beginning on NBCSN at 7am.

Hamilton escapes engine scare to qualify third for Monaco GP

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Lewis Hamilton escaped an engine scare early in Q3 to qualify third for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix.

Hamilton arrived in Monaco hopeful of kick-starting his championship bid and ending his poor run of form in the principality, having won there just once in Formula 1.

The Briton appeared to be in the fight for pole heading into the final stage of qualifying, only to report a loss of power on his Mercedes car in the pit lane.

While the rest of the drivers streamed out onto the track, Hamilton was wheeled back to his garage so the team could set to work on fixing the issue.

Mercedes confirmed to the media that Hamilton had suffered a fuel pressure issue that prompted the team to stop his car in the pit lane. Teammate Nico Rosberg had a similar problem that delayed his first run in Q3.

Hamilton made his one flying lap count to finish third in Q3 behind pole-sitter Daniel Ricciardo and Rosberg, but felt pole was for the taking had it not been for the issue.

“It was a difficult qualifying, I don’t really know what to say at the moment,” Hamilton said.

“The good thing is that I did get out to do a lap at least, it wasn’t as bad as some races have been in that respect with the engine problems.

“I’m grateful to be up in third. Pole was there for the taking I think, but nevertheless I’ll do what I can in the race to salvage what I can from today’s result.”

The Monaco Grand Prix is live on NBC from 7:30am ET on Sunday, with F1 Countdown beginning on NBCSN at 7am ET.