Mideast Bahrain F1 GP Auto Racing

Bahrain a landmark race for Rosberg, Button and Formula 1

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The Bahrain Grand Prix has experienced a difficult time in Formula 1 over the past ten years. Despite dwindling attendances and political unrest that resulted in the cancellation of the 2011 race, the kingdom has made it to a landmark stage with this weekend’s event marking the 10th anniversary of the inaugural grand prix in Bahrain.

As part of the celebrations to mark a decade of Formula 1, the race at the Bahrain International Circuit will be a night race for the first time, starting at 6pm. Already in practice and qualifying, there has been a noticeable improvement to the atmosphere and image of the event, and the officials are keen on making the night race a yearly event.

However, this is also an important race in the history of Formula 1 itself. Today’s grand prix is the 900th world championship event, with the first being the 1950 British Grand Prix. The 800th was also a night race at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, which was marred by the Renault crash-gate saga.

Jenson Button is also celebrating a big milestone today as it will be his 250th grand prix start. The British driver made his debut at the 2000 Australian Grand Prix, and won the 2009 world championship with Brawn GP. Having won his 200th race (the 2011 Hungarian GP), Button has a habit of living up to the big occasion, but from P6 on the grid he might have to settle for third place at best today.

For pole-sitter Nico Rosberg, this race is his 150th start in Formula 1. The German driver made his debut at this circuit in 2006 with Williams, where he set the fastest lap. Should he manage to win today’s race, he would equal his father’s tally of five victories in Formula 1. Given the pace of the Mercedes car, it is hard to bet against either Rosberg or teammate Lewis Hamilton taking the checkered flag first.

The 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 10:30am ET today.

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.