2014 Monaco Grand Prix Preview

Leave a comment

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.

NASCAR Truck drivers feel the earth move sitting in NHRA powerhouses

Photos courtesy Kalitta Motorsports
Leave a comment

Several NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers got to see how the other half lives – namely, their counterparts in the NHRA – on Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway and across the street at zMax Dragway.

To say it was an eye-opening experience is putting it mildly.

Top Fuel drag racers Shawn Langdon and Troy Coughlin Jr., as well as Funny Car driver J.R. Todd – all from one of the top teams in the NHRA, Kalitta Motorsports – are in Charlotte for this weekend’s 4-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway.

NASCAR Trucks driver Noah Gragson gets to feel the 10,000 horsepower of a Top Fuel dragster.

Thursday, they invited NASCAR drivers Ryan Truex, Christopher Bell, Grant Enfinger and Noah Gragson to show how it’s done NHRA-style.

Todd, Langdon and Coughlin started the day taking Toyota Camry pace cars around the 1.5-mile CMS oval.

Then everyone moved across the street to see some real horsepower, namely, 10,000 horses worth – which is roughly about 13 times the power they have under the hood of their race trucks.

Truex and Bell got a chance to “warm up” Todd’s Funny Car, while Enfinger and Gragson did the same with Langdon’s Top Fueler.

 

Meanwhile, Todd and Langdon both did smoky burnouts that, if the Truck guys thought they could do burnouts, they learned a lot to the contrary.

“It was a cool to do a big smoky burnout,” Todd said. “It was cool to see the guys reactions. We had a great time today and I think we created several new fans.”

Added Langdon, “Days like today is what makes me love our sport even more. Bringing these guys over here and letting them hit the throttle and sit in the car when it warms up gives them a look at what we do. To see the smiles on their faces after a badass burnout and how excited they are, just gets me pumped.”

Here’s what the NASCAR guys thought about the experience.

Bell: “J.R. Todd let me sit in his Toyota Camry Funny Car and they even cracked the throttle open for me when we were warming up the motor. It is something that I will remember for the rest of my life. It is a feeling like none other.”

Enfinger: “Just a crazy experience, something I have never done. Been able to do a lot of cool things with Toyota, but it is not every day that you get to make your dad jealous.”

Gragson: “This was awesome. It was the experience of a lifetime. It was great to hang out with J.R. Todd, Shawn and Troy Jr. Definitely a cool experience; one that I will remember forever.”

Truex: “This has probably been the craziest experience that I have ever been a part of. I got to sit in a Funny Car; they hit the throttle, which really scared me. When I was outside the car, I jumped about three feet in the air. It was cool to get inside and experience that. The nitro was all in my face, and I think they gained a new fan with me today.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

 

F1 drivers split on new ‘shield’ protection

Getty Images
1 Comment

SOCHI, Russia (AP) Formula One drivers are split over plans to test a new “shield” device to protect against flying debris.

The FIA will trial the transparent screen in the coming months for a potential introduction in 2018, as it pushes for greater head protection for drivers. Recent years have seen major head injuries in several motorsport series.

“I wouldn’t mind trying out the shield, seeing how is the visibility,” Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas said on Thursday. “In terms of safety it would be a good step compared to what we have now.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was another supporter, saying “we’ve still got to see a bit more, but first impressions seem OK.”

The FIA previously seemed to favor a metal frame known as the “halo,” which was designed to stop a flying wheel hitting a driver’s head but was criticized by some drivers on aesthetic grounds.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat said on Thursday he was “quite against” the shield and the halo. “The way Formula One should look should remain the same,” he added. “We have enough protection.”

Romain Grosjean of Haas voiced concern the “next step” would be completely closed cockpits.

Recent years have seen several high-profile head injuries, including the deaths of Formula Two driver Henry Surtees in 2009 when he was hit by a loose wheel and IndyCar driver Justin Wilson, who was struck by debris, in 2015.

In Formula One, Brazilian driver Felipe Massa missed the second half of the 2009 season when a loose spring from another car hit his helmet, leaving him needing surgery.

Haas changes F1 brake supplier ahead of Russian Grand Prix

Haas/LAT
1 Comment

Haas has switched from Brembo to Carbon Industrie brakes ahead of this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix in a bid to remedy its long-running braking issues in Formula 1.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his eponymous operation onto the F1 grid in 2016, with Romain Grosjean scoring all 29 of its points through its debut season.

Grosjean and then-teammate Esteban Gutierrez had their efforts spurned on a number of occasions by brake issues which continued to arise through pre-season testing in 2017 and the early races.

Haas pushed to remedy the issue by testing new Carbon Industrie brakes in the post-Bahrain Grand Prix test, with Grosjean and new teammate Kevin Magnussen conducting running.

The team duly decided to fit the new Carbon Industrie brakes for this weekend’s race in Russia, with both VF-17 cars to run with them from Friday onwards.

“To be fair to Brembo, the last update in brakes we had that arrived in China were much better. It took a long time to get them,” Grosjean explained.

“So then I was not screaming to change to Carbone Industrie but it was in the pipeline, so we tried them, and both drivers were pretty pleased with them. We felt like we had more control under braking.

“I’m very sensitive to my left pedal, so I really need to get good brakes to get good confidence and push the car to its maximum limit. So we are going to run them here.

“There is still a little bit of work we need to be doing around the mapping and finding the solution around those brakes but I think yeah, definitely it’s going to help me a little bit to find the last few hundredths.”

NHRA: Chad Head to substitute for Alexis DeJoria in Charlotte

Photo: NHRA
Leave a comment

Alexis DeJoria will miss this weekend’s NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, with her Kalitta Motorsports team confirming DeJoria will need to tend to a family matter.

Chad Head, Kalitta Motorsports Director of Safety, will step into the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry this weekend. No timetable was given for DeJoria’s return; after Charlotte this weekend, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues for its third consecutive race weekend next week in Atlanta.

This isn’t the first race DeJoria has had to miss recently, as she also was diagnosed with a concussion and missed the 2016 NHRA season finale in Pomona.