2014 Monaco Grand Prix Preview

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After five rounds of the 2014 Formula 1 season, we finally arrive at the biggest race of all: Monaco. Since 1929, the brave and the brilliant have pushed themselves to the very limit around the tight streets of the principality, and it has cemented its place as the jewel in the sport’s glittering crown.

As we head to the principality on the French riviera this time around, though, it is quite clear that it will be another two horse race for the win on Saturday. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are set to go toe-to-toe once again as they both battle for a second win in Monaco, but after emerging victorious in 2013, it is unlikely that Rosberg will be letting his crown go without a fight.

Due to the odd weekend structure at Monaco that sees practice take place on Thursday, proceedings are drawn out a little more. It’s the social event of the year for everyone in the sport, and for those at home – regardless if you’re an F1 fan or not – it’s a must watch race.

2014 Monaco Grand Prix Talking Points

Hamilton looks for a high five

After winning the last four races, Lewis Hamilton is looking to make it five-in-a-row for the very first time in his Formula 1 career. The Briton certainly appears to have had the upper hand over teammate Nico Rosberg of late, but he has not reached the podium in Monaco since his win here back in 2008. However, should he win, he would have history on his side; no driver has won five grands prix in a row and not won the world championship.

Red Bull tries to strike back

Red Bull’s response to a disastrous pre-season period has been nothing short of emphatic. The team is now easily second quickest, and in Monaco, it is looking to cut the gap to Mercedes at the front of the field. In FP1 on Thursday morning, Daniel Ricciardo finished within three-tenths of a second of Lewis Hamilton, and both he and Sebastian Vettel seem to be more comfortable around the streets this weekend.

More problems to surface at Ferrari?

In Bahrain, Ferrari languished down in P9 and P10 as Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen struggled with the car coming out of corners, claiming that there was a lack of traction. Now, in Monaco, this is pretty much everything. Alonso is fighting hard to keep the Ferrari towards the front end of the field, but a poor qualifying result could put paid to any hopes of a prancing horse on the podium at Monaco.

Qualifying is king, giving Force India and Williams an advantage?

Overtaking at Monaco is by no means impossible, but it is very, very hard. Ordinarily, qualifying is everything, and whoever puts it on the front row on Saturday typically wins on Sunday. Although the front row might be out of the question for Force India and Williams, their good qualifying form so far this year could allow them to perhaps sneak a top five finish.

The unforgiving barriers, safety cars and attrition

Rule number one in Formula 1: “To finish first, first you have to finish.” In Monaco, this could not be more true. It’s crucial to keep the car out of the barriers, but that could be all the more difficult with the new cars. The last four races have seen a safety car period, so this surely must be accounted for when planning a strategy, and the for likes of Sauber, Toro Rosso and perhaps even Caterham and Marussia, a low number of finishers could give them a huge chance in Monaco.

Monaco – Facts and Figures

Track: Circuit de Monaco
Laps: 
78
Corners: 19
Lap Record: Michael Schumacher 1:14.439 (2004)
Tyre Compounds: Super-Soft (Option); Soft (Prime)
2013 Winner: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
2013 Pole Position: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:13.876
2013 Fastest Lap: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1:16.577
DRS Zone: Main straight (T19 to T1)

Click here for full details on NBC Sports’ broadcasting of the Monaco Grand Prix this weekend. Please note that the race is live on NBC on Sunday.

Graham Rahal survives Road America to finish eighth

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Graham Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing faced a roller coaster of a race during the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America on Sunday.

He was a rocket off the initial start, jumping from sixth on the grid up to fourth exiting turn 1, but was almost immediately ordered to surrender a position for blocking. He quickly slipped back to sixth, and then began plummeting down the order as he battled an oversteer condition that saw his car chew through its rear tires more quickly than others.

Forced to abandon the planned three-stop strategy, he and the No. 15 Gehl Honda team switched to a four-stop plan that saw him drop well outside the top ten at times.

However, they kept plugging away and rebounded nicely in the second half of the race to eventually finish in eighth. While he would have liked to finish higher up the order, Rahal knows that he and the team got everything they could out of it.

“The car was a handful today. I knew about five laps in that I didn’t have the pace for a three-stop strategy,” Rahal revealed post-race. “We tried as best we could to work with what we had during the race and overcome it. I would have obviously liked to have finished better, but eighth is about as good as we could do today. We struggled with a very loose race car all weekend and just couldn’t put a dent in the problem. We worked awfully hard but just missed it this weekend.”

The eighth-place finish keeps Rahal in the championship hunt. Rahal now sits seventh in the standings, 11 points behind fifth-place Josef Newgarden and 72 behind championship leader Scott Dixon.

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Ed Jones continues steady run with seventh at Road America

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Dale Coyne Racing’s Ed Jones has made waves in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season with a string of solid performances that belie his rookie status.

And Sunday’s Kohler Grand Prix at Road America was no different.

The 22-year-old battled an oversteering car most of the weekend at Road America, and had to navigate a little carnage late in the race as Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay both fell through the field with front wing problems.

However, Jones weathered all storms to finish an impressive seventh, his fifth finish inside the top 10 this year, and his best finish since his third place at the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade MotorOil.

“It was a really tough race,” Jones said of the effort. “We had a loose car yesterday. It was loose, but fast, for qualifying, and today again the car was really loose. I was hanging on the whole race, but the team had some good pit stops and we were able to move up.

“Obviously, the strategy was pretty similar to everyone else. Everyone was aggressive out there. It was hard racing but we came out with a seventh place and we moved up a little bit in the points.”

The seventh-place run sees Jones maintain his position in the top ten in the championship. He currently sits tenth in the standings, three points ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Max Chilton.

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Vilander replaces Bird at AF Corse for Nurburgring WEC round

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AF Corse has confirmed that Toni Vilander will race the No. 71 Ferrari 488 GTE in next month’s FIA World Endurance Championship round at the Nürburgring in place of Sam Bird, who is tied up with Formula E commitments in New York.

Vilander currently races full-time in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Risi Competizione, and appeared at the 24 Hours of Le Mans two weeks ago.

The Finn won the WEC GT drivers’ title in 2014 and last raced full-time in the series in 2015, but will return at the Nürburgring in place of Bird, who confirmed on Monday that he would be prioritizing his Formula E commitments on the July 16 weekend.

Vilander is relishing the opportunity to race alongside Davide Rigon in the No. 71 Ferrari, and is eager to bounce back from an early retirement at Le Mans.

“I’m happy to be able to return to the FIA WEC with the 488 GTE of AF Corse team. This is my chance to cancel the disappointment of the 24 Hours of Le Mans as soon as possible,” Vilander said.

“Car number 71 is in the top places of the championship standings, and I will give all I have to achieve the best possible result at Nürburgring, to help Ferrari in the manufacturers’ championship and Davide Rigon in the drivers’ ranking.”

British GP expands to four-day schedule, F2/GP3 practice set for Thursday

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The British Grand Prix weekend will expand to a four-day schedule next month as Formula 2 and GP3 practice running gets shifted to Thursday.

On-track running for all Formula 1 events traditionally takes place across three days – Friday to Sunday, bar Monaco, where practice is on Thursday – with support events following a similar format.

Silverstone has confirmed its schedule of events for the British Grand Prix weekend, with F2 and GP3 practice slated for Thursday July 13.

F2 practice will run from 15:30 to 16:15 local time at Silverstone on the Thursday, followed by GP3 running from 16:45 to 17:30.

Both support series will hit the track again on Friday for their respective qualifying sessions, taking place after F1’s second practice in the afternoon.

The remainder of the race weekend will go ahead as usual for F2 and GP3, having one race each on both Saturday and Sunday.

The F1 schedule for the weekend remains unchanged, with FP1 and FP2 on Friday, FP3 and qualifying on Saturday, and the race on Sunday.

Both Renault and Williams will take part in special show-runs during the grand prix weekend as part of their 40th anniversary celebrations.

You can see the full British Grand Prix schedule here.