F1 Grand Prix of Japan - Qualifying

Force India says Lotus has the key to 2014 driver market

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Force India’s deputy team principal Bob Fernley has said that the team is waiting on Lotus’ decision regarding its driver line up before making any announcements for 2014.

Lotus is currently thought to be waiting on a deal with Quantum Motorsports, a group of investors headed up by Mansoor Ijaz who has appeared at the last few races as a guest of the team. However, with the deal continually stalling, it seems that Lotus may have to approach Pastor Maldonado and offer him a drive relying he has funding from PDVSA in 2014. Should the Quantum deal go ahead though, Lotus will want to sign Nico Hulkenberg, although the German driver is reported to have signed for Force India in Brazil.

Speaking to ESPNF1, Fernley made clear that no decisions would be made until Lotus had made the first move.

“The stumbling block at the moment is who’s going with Lotus and until that’s resolved it’s very difficult to know what’s available,” he explained. “At the end of the season, we’ve got two very good drivers and there’s got to be a compelling reason to change one or both. We don’t really know which drivers are available yet.”

Current drivers Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil enjoyed a good start to the season before suffering from a dramatic change in fortunes after the British Grand Prix, coinciding with the changes made to the Pirelli tires. di Resta is thought to be at risk of losing his seat, and he has said that he is open to a move to IndyCar should a place in Formula One prove impossible to find.

Sergio Perez is another driver that the team is thought to be considering for 2014, and Martin Whitmarsh inferred in Brazil that a deal had already been struck to keep the Mexican driver in Formula One following his sacking by McLaren.

The F1 season may be over, but at this rate, silly season is set to rumble on well into the new year.

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.