WATCH LIVE: Mercedes chases fifth straight pole in Spanish GP qualifying

1 Comment

After dominating all three practice sessions so far this weekend, Mercedes is looking to continue this good form during qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix and secure its fifth pole position in a row.

You can watch qualifying live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET. CLICK HERE to watch via livestream.

Lewis Hamilton is currently the man in form after winning the last three races, but teammate Nico Rosberg still leads the championship by four points. Both have excelled thanks to the brilliant W05 Hybrid car, which is a cut above the rest of the field.

The race in Spain sees a number of teams introduce updates for their cars, and it was thought that this could result in a reshuffling of the pecking order. Red Bull and Ferrari both thought that they could cut the gap to Mercedes at the front, but the opposite has instead proven to be true. The Silver Arrows appear to be further ahead than ever, and anything but a Mercedes win would be a surprise this weekend.

Nevertheless, we are set for another tantalizing battle for pole between Hamilton and Rosberg, so be sure to join us from 8am ET on NBCSN and Live Extra. CLICK HERE to watch via livestream.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
Leave a comment

COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”