F1 Grand Prix of China - Previews

MotorSportsTalk’s predictions: Chinese GP

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Formula 1 heads to the world’s most populous country this weekend for the Chinese Grand Prix, and change is in the air. Stefano Domenicali has left Ferrari, Matteo Mattiacci has taken over, and Red Bull’s appeal has been chucked out. But will some things stay the same on Sunday?

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race winner: Nico Rosberg. You may as well toss a coin between the two Mercedes drivers once again this weekend. My money is on Nico to repeat his win from 2012; both he and Lewis are set to fight it out once again.

Surprising finish: Kevin Magnussen. The straight line speed of the McLaren MP4-29 should suit the Shanghai International Circuit, so it would not surprise me to see the young Dane make the podium for the second time in four races.

Most to prove: Ferrari. Once again, the Italian marque must dust itself down and get back up. The exit of Stefano Domenicali on Monday will certainly make this weekend’s race a strange one for the team, but it must bring home more than the paltry sum of three points that were scored in Bahrain.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race winner: Nico Rosberg. Not quite feeling a Hamilton three-peat and Rosberg will be motivated to avenge his near miss in Bahrain.

Surprising finish: Valtteri Bottas. I like the Williams driver to return to the top-five after he and teammate Felipe Massa were caught out by the safety car timing in Bahrain. The pace is there for the Finn, he just needs the results to back it up.

Most to prove: Ferrari. When Luca di Montezemolo leaves a track early, and the team principal resigns the following week, you can be sure there was a definite correlation between the two. The team may not turn it around overnight but Fernando Alonso enters this race as defending champion and Kimi Raikkonen should be desperate to emerge from his teammate’s shadow. A must-improve weekend for the Scuderia.

Christopher Estrada (@estradawriting)

Race winner: Nico Rosberg. The German still holds the World Championship lead but after losing out to Mercedes teammate/title rival Lewis Hamilton in a brilliant battle at Bahrain, he’ll be itching to return the favor on a track that he’s done well on in the past.

Surprising finish: Nico Hulkenberg. After Sergio Perez’s podium run in Bahrain, it’s time for the Hulk to do the same in China and help establish Force India more firmly in the “best of the rest” status.

Most to prove: McLaren. A double DNF outing in Bahrain needs to be erased by rookie Kevin Magnussen and ex-World Champ Jenson Button, who won at Shanghai in 2010.

Jerry Bonkowski (@JerryBonkowski)

Race winner: Fernando Alonso. It’s time for him to earn his first win of 2014. It’s also time for Ferrari to finally get a win. Granted, Alonso is the defending winner of this race, but that’s not why I’m picking him. It’s time for Ferrari to shine and Alonso is the one who will make it happen.

Surprising finish: Lewis Hamilton. Although Hamilton has won two of the first three races, he’s going to struggle in China. He’ll be lucky to finish in the top 10. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see both Mercedes drivers, Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, struggle in this one.

Most to prove: Kimi Raikkonen. Raikkonen has struggled way too much, way too soon in the first three races. While teammate Fernando Alonso has done well, Raikkonen has looked almost like he’s forgotten how to drive. He needs to show he’s still in the game, lest he fall even further behind after the fourth race. It’s not a Ferrari issue, it’s a Kimi issue.

Lorenzo looking to Honda, Ducati for help in MotoGP title race

ALCANIZ, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 27:  Jorge Lorenzo of Spain and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP celebrates the victory on the podium at the end of the MotoGP race during the MotoGP of Spain - Race at Motorland Aragon Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Alcaniz, Spain.  (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)
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Jorge Lorenzo hopes that he can get some help from the Honda and Ducati riders in his championship battle with Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi in the final four races of the 2015 MotoGP season.

Lorenzo currently trails Rossi by 14 points at the top of the riders’ championship, and with just four races to go, barring an unlikely run of results, the title will go to a Yamaha rider for the first time since 2012.

The formbook offers little in the way of clues for the Lorenzo/Rossi battle, for although Lorenzo has won more races, Rossi has been more consistent, finishing off the podium just once this season.

Lorenzo had hoped to reel Rossi in last time out at Motorland Aragon, but the Italian rider managed to finish third, minimizing the damage of his teammate’s victory.

Nevertheless, Lorenzo was pleased to bounce back after two disappointing races at Silverstone and Misano, having lost ground on Rossi in the title race.

“I am very happy with this victory because it came after two races that were a bit disappointing and I expected to take more points, but due to a few factors and especially the weather, I failed to achieve the desired result,” Lorenzo said. “The victory in Motorland [Aragon] was crucial.”

Rossi was beaten to second place by Honda’s Dani Pedrosa after a titanic battle in the closing stages of the last race, and Lorenzo hopes that the Spaniard, among others, could aid his cause inadvertently again in the remaining four races.

“[Pedrosa] was very strong and it was useful to recover the points lost earlier and it has given me more chances to recover with four races left until the end,” Lorenzo said.

“But [Marc] Marquez or maybe the two Ducati riders could also stand in front of Valentino and take away some points. It is a real possibility, but very dangerous for us both.”

The next round of the MotoGP season takes place at Motegi, Japan next weekend.

Steiner: Haas F1 Team could not afford rookie mistakes

KANNAPOLIS, NC - SEPTEMBER 29:  (L-R) Gunther Steiner, team principal of Haas F1 Team, Romain Grosjean of France, and Gene Haas, owner of Haas F1 Team, pose for a photo opportunity after Haas F1 Team announced Grosjean as their driver for the upcoming 2016 Formula 1 season on September 29, 2015 in Kannapolis, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Stewart-Haas Racing via Getty Images)
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Günther Steiner has said that Haas Formula 1 Team could not afford to have its drivers making rookie mistakes during its debut season in the sport, reasoning the decision to only sign experienced racers for 2016.

On Tuesday, Haas unveiled Lotus driver Romain Grosjean as its first signing for next season, luring the Frenchman away from Enstone after ten years of association.

The second seat is set to go to either Esteban Gutierrez or Jean-Eric Vergne, who both work as development drivers for Ferrari and both have at least two seasons of racing under their belt.

As team principal, Steiner (pictured left) will work under team owner Gene Haas, and said that both had agreed that a rookie driver for season one would be unwise.

“We looked around a lot to find the right guy because we wanted somebody with experience but still hungry to do something, to go with us this long way,” Steiner explained.

“I started talks with the management of Romain in Barcelona to see if he’s interested and, you know, we spoke to quite a few drivers, and in the end I spoke also with technical people, what they think about Romain, how he develops a car.

“We have got a steep mountain to climb here, new team, all new team members, so we needed somebody who knows what he’s doing. I think in the end we found the right guy because he has so much ‘want to drive’ now, and he’s still aggressive or still wants it.

“He’s not [so] young anymore that he’s inexperienced. We lose time by having accidents or doing rookie mistakes. I think we just picked the best one out there for what we are doing, and we focused on him and got him, and we are very happy and we are looking forward to working with him.”