Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain is sprayed with champagne by his team after his win in the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) in Sakhir

Coulthard: Hamilton’s Bahrain win among his best

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Former Formula 1 driver and 2001 world championship runner-up David Coulthard has heaped praised upon Lewis Hamilton following his victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix, highlighting it as one of the Mercedes driver’s best wins yet.

Hamilton managed to fend off teammate Nico Rosberg in the final stages of the race in Bahrain despite being on the slower tire after a safety car period compromised his strategy. Both drivers were given the freedom to fight for position by their team, and the racing between them was spectacular, making the grand prix one of the most memorable in Bahrain.

For Coulthard, Hamilton’s performance was proof that he is in some of the best form of his life.

“He is in a happy place right now and, when he’s on form like this, Hamilton is arguably the best driver in Formula 1,” the Scotsman explained in a column for the BBC.

“It was an unbelievable achievement by Hamilton to hold on to the lead in the closing laps. He had the disadvantage of not having access to the Drag-Reduction System (DRS) overtaking aid – which Rosberg did – and he was on worse tires.

“Rosberg tried and tried. That stop into turn one – from more than 200mph – is so difficult. You’re staring and starting at the braking point. The car potential is getting better each lap as the fuel goes down. And one snag of the brakes and you’re gone.

“It is a huge pressure on the race leader. In many ways it is easier for the guy charging and following.

“Add all that up and it’s why this race really stood out as one of Hamilton’s finest.”

Since making his debut back in 2007, Hamilton has enjoyed considerable success, claiming one world title and 24 race wins. However, as Coulthard detailed, rarely has he had to fight so desperately for a race win. It was a stellar display of defensive driving, and come the end of the race, both he and teammate Rosberg were clearly exhausted after a draining battle.

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.