Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton chases first ever career three-peat in China

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Lewis Hamilton enters today’s Chinese Grand Prix looking to claim his third straight race win for the first time in his Formula 1 career, and after bagging pole position yesterday in the wet, he has given himself the best possible chance of doing so.

The British driver made his F1 debut back in 2007 with McLaren, becoming just the second rookie driver in the history of the team. However, he immediately shot to fame after finishing his first season in second place, and he most probably would have won the championship had it not been for a strategy error in Shanghai. He made up for it in 2008 though, winning the championship by a single point ahead of Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.

Despite these successes and a number of wins since, the Briton has never won three straight races throughout his F1 career. However, he has come very close.

In 2007, Hamilton had the chance to make it three in a row at the French Grand Prix following victories in Canada and at Indianapolis in the United States Grand Prix. However, Ferrari romped to a one-two finish with a fine display.

During his championship winning year of 2008, Hamilton came very close to a hat-trick in Hungary after winning in Britain and Germany in the two races beforehand. He looked set to seal the victory, but a puncture meant that he struggled home to finish fifth. This still remains his lowest finishing position at the Hungaroring when he has seen the checkered flag.

Finally, in 2010, he lost out to Sebastian Vettel at the European Grand Prix after winning in Turkey and Canada. Hamilton brought his car home in second place, but even this came with a huge slice of luck. After overtaking the safety car, the Briton was given a drive-through penalty, but his advantage was so great that it meant he did not lose a position.

This time around, Hamilton has his best shot yet of making it three on the bounce. The Mercedes W05 is supreme in both dry and wet conditions, but the team will be keen on a hassle-free race. The greatest challenge to Hamilton might come from the other side of the garage as Nico Rosberg chases his second Chinese Grand Prix victory.

You can see if Hamilton makes it three in a row live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 2:30am ET.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Marco Andretti

Marco Andretti
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the Verizon IndyCar Series field in 2015 with Marco Andretti, who finished ninth after another top-10 season in points.

Marco Andretti, No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda

  • 2014: 9th Place, Best Finish 2nd, Best Start 5th, 2 Podiums, 2 Top-5, 9 Top-10, 23 Laps Led, 12.4 Avg. Start, 12.2 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 9th Place, Best Finish 2nd, Best Start 3rd, 2 Podiums, 4 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 60 Laps Led, 11.5 Avg. Start, 9.1 Avg. Finish

It was a dependable, quiet but usually consistent season from Marco Andretti, who up until the final quarter of the season had actually been his father’s most reliable finisher.

Andretti didn’t necessarily have a ton of standout drives but he was usually there or thereabouts, and by the end of the day he was often at the low ends of the top-10, which earlier this year given the at-times troublesome Honda aero kit package on road and street courses was more of an accomplishment than you’d think. Three top-10 results in the first four races was proof positive of that.

As ever Andretti excelled most on the big ovals. Sixth at the Indianapolis 500 was as good as was possible given the lack of top-end speed; similarly, he probably could have emerged at the head of the field at Fontana, ending third when all was said and done.

His best result was second in the rain at Detroit race one, although coming second to teammate Carlos Munoz had to sting a little bit. Andretti had driven well that race, and was unfortunate not to be rewarded with his first win in four years.

The thing that would have been his standout stat of the year, finishing every lap, game unglued with an odd accident on home soil in Pocono. It was a shame to see because Andretti was typically good, if not great, for yet another season.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Tony Kanaan

Tony Kanaan
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver lineup in the Verizon IndyCar Series, after the 2015 season, with eighth-placed Tony Kanaan.

Tony Kanaan, No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

  • 2014: 7th Place, 1 Win, Best Start 2nd, 6 Podiums, 6 Top-5, 12 Top-10, 407 Laps Led, 9.2 Avg. Start, 9.3 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 8th Place, Best Finish 2nd, Best Start 2nd, 3 Podiums, 6 Top-5, 10 Top-10, 213 Laps Led, 7.6 Avg Start, 9.9 Avg. Finish

You have to give TK credit. Armed with one of the best cars on the grid, Kanaan has certainly raised his game the last two years, and probably hasn’t received enough credit or enough results for some of his drives he’s put in since joining Chip Ganassi Racing after the 2013 season.

The 2015 season was no exception. All 10 of his top-10 finishes were between second and seventh, so there were plenty of times he was in win and podium contention. The other area where he improved was his qualifying. Kanaan only had two starts outside the top-12 all season, one of which occurred at Detroit race two, where the grid was set by points following a rain cancellation. Detroit was pretty much the only weekend where Kanaan didn’t figure into qualifying or the race. Blame the Taylor Swift-inspired Big Machine Records livery for that one if you want.

Accidents at the Indianapolis 500 and Pocono were costly retirements as Kanaan definitely had a shot to win both those races. But realistically you couldn’t find many other faults. Losing a sure win at Iowa due to a mechanical issue was a gutting blow. He was also unlucky to come up just shy at Fontana, and may have prevailed in a last-lap shootout.

More often that not however, Kanaan was firmly on top of his game, and reliably on par with his championship-winning teammate Scott Dixon, which was all you could ask for. It’s fitting the two of them opened the year as part of the winning lineup in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, with Kanaan then helping out matters by finishing ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya at Sonoma, to ensure Dixon had enough points to win the title on countback.