MotorSportsTalk’s predictions: Spanish GP

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The European portion of the 2014 Formula 1 season gets underway this weekend in Spain, and Mercedes is chasing a fifth straight win. Just four points separate its drivers in the championship, but the momentum unquestionably lies with Lewis Hamilton after three successive victories.

However, this race presents the first chance for teams to introduce significant upgrades for their cars, and this could once again reshuffle the pack. F1 has a habit of never making things easy for us at MotorSportsTalk…

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race winner: Lewis Hamilton. I’ve been a bit critical of Lewis over the years, but he finally appears to be in a good place with Mercedes. Three wins on the bounce, and barring a car problem or a bit of stupidity, he’s my tip to make it four.

Surprising finish: Romain Grosjean. Lotus hasn’t earned much sympathy from me over the past year or so, but RoGro’s retirement in China was disheartening after such a tough pre-season. Let’s hope he finally reaches the top 10 this weekend.

Most to prove: Sauber. The Swiss team has been awful so far this year, but the C33 has gone on a diet and is considerably lighter this weekend, so results need to follow. Just lay off the paella, lads…

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race winner: Lewis Hamilton. When you’re hot, you’re hot. He’s never had the chance to win four in a row before and a race where he was poised to capture the win last year before tire issues, I think he’ll bounce back.

Surprising finish: Kimi Raikkonen. Ferrari should have made car improvements and Kimi, who insists he’s still plenty motivated, seems due for a bounce back. He hasn’t even cracked the top five yet but I think that changes this weekend.

Most to prove: Nico Rosberg. Seems weird to say that given he’s the points leader, right? Three consecutive second-place finishes to his teammate have not only given Hamilton the on-track edge, but the mental and psychological edge as well. Another race of losing to his teammate will do Rosberg no favors; he must respond this weekend.

Christopher Estrada (@estradawriting)

Race winner: Lewis Hamilton. After three straight defeats, his Mercedes teammate, Nico Rosberg, will be bent on getting one over on him. But until either he or someone else takes him down, Hamilton’s gotta be the favorite.

Surprising finish: Pastor Maldonado. Lotus has shown some good signs lately and with engine partner Renault promising “significant improvements,” keep an eye out for the Venezuelan, who scored his lone Grand Prix win two years ago in Barcelona.

Most to prove: McLaren. They’ve been saying that they have a plan to pull themselves back to the front. Now, the time has come for Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen to make it work.

Jerry Bonkowski (@JerryBonkowski)

Race winner: Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard has had a great season thus far, the highest-ranking non-Mercedes driver (currently third). There’s no better place for him to win his first race of 2014 than on Spanish home turf.

Surprising finish: Jenson Button. What has happened to JB this season? Eighth place in the standings, 46 points behind series leader Nico Rosberg? If he has another bad race – or finally breaks through with a decent run – either one will be a surprise finish.

Most to prove: Kimi Raikkonen. While his Ferrari teammate Alonso is riding high in third place, Raikkonen continues to have a disappointing season, when he was expected to have a great 2014. Four races into the schedule, he needs to make a big move upward in the standings, lest he be eliminated before the midpoint of the season.

Here’s what drivers said after Sunday’s INDYCAR race was postponed until Monday

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Here’s what several drenched drivers had to say after Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama was postponed until Monday morning (11:30 a.m. ET, LIVE on NBCSN):

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, 2017 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama winner, 2018 pole winner): “It’s tough because we have so many people that come out here to watch us. We want to put on a good race. We want to put on a show. So calling the race, running around behind the pace car not running, it’s tough, it’s tough to do that. But I think it was the right thing in the end. When we started the race, the conditions were OK. You could run at that level of rain. Then, it intensified right before that first caution. I think when the caution came out, it got to a point where it was just too much. There was too much puddling and pooling of water on every straightaway. Then the rivers started flowing, high-speed compressions in Turns 1 and 2, fast corner, 12 and 13, fast corner where the river starts to form. Just tough. I mean, look, we love racing in the rain. It’s got nothing to do with not wanting to run in the rain, not being able to do that. It’s that this type of track with this water level was too much to race today. We’ve run here in the rain before, but it intensified to the point where you’re starting to get in a situation where it’s going to take it out of the drivers’ hands. What happened with Will (Power), I don’t think is a driver error. I don’t know how anyone is going to drive hydroplaning on the front straightaway. I think you would have had that for the rest of the track, too. A tough situation. Thanks for the fans that came out and supported us. Hopefully we’ll get some people back tomorrow and we’ll get the show in and put on a great event.”

MATHEUS “MATT” LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet):
“Tough day so far. We had some problems with our radio and fuel alarm, but otherwise the car was alright. It was just too dangerous out there, we couldn’t see anything, so I think they made the right call. Hopefully we’ll have a good race tomorrow.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “It’s just a real shame for everyone on the Verizon Chevy team. The car was good and we were doing our best out there, but it was really hard to see anything in front of me. The conditions were just so bad. As soon as I got to the frontstraight, the car just came around, and I tried to keep it off the wall, but it was hydroplaning and there was nothing I could do. I feel bad for the team and for the fans in this weather. Just too bad. Hopefully our luck can turn around when we get to Indianapolis.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Very difficult day for us. In the race we were 13th at the time and we had some electrical issues, so that caused us to pit and we lost a lap. Not the ideal situation, but we don’t give up. There’s still a race tomorrow and we’re going to go for the most points. Anything can happen.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Mi-Jack Honda): “It was a tough beginning, but when we kind of got going it was OK and kind of fun to challenge for a while, but visibility was a major issue today, no doubt. I’m glad that the series postponed it. I would have like to get it in today, but that’s life. We will go racing tomorrow.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 Kerauno / MilitaryToMotorsports.com Honda, Verizon IndyCar Series points leader): “I think definitely the right decision was made to red flag the race. It’s a very difficult position for everyone to be in. It’s never the result that you want, but safety is obviously a priority. I think everyone did a good job considering the conditions of looking out for each other. Not being able to see is not doing anybody any good. It is hard for everyone, but glad that we’re all in one piece and try again later.

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): “As you could see on TV, if you couldn’t see the car, it was probably three times worse in the cockpit on the main straight or any straight. You had to completely trust the guys that they were accelerating. Never the less, I made good progress on the short stint and I made up a few positions.  The car was working well, but also was aquaplaning a lot, too, so I have to respect INDYCAR’s decision for everyone’s safety. Now we really need to concentrate on having a good car for tomorrow. I’m sorry for the fans that sat in rain all day, but thank them for their support.”

RENE BINDER (No. 32 Binderholz tiptop timber Chevrolet): “It was a short day. In the beginning the conditions were not that good, but afterwards the conditions started to improve. The race was stopped, then restarted, and I think the conditions were not too bad at that point. Unfortunately, it was red flagged again and then cancelled for the day. It would have been nice to get halfway, but we will come back and try again tomorrow.”