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MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Monaco GP

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It’s the big one, folks. The Monaco Grand Prix is unquestionably the yearly highlight on the Formula 1 calendar, mixing the glitz and glamor with one of the most exciting races of the year.

Monaco is widely regarded as the litmus test to see whether or not a driver is made of champion material. To firmly establish yourself as one of the greats in the sport, this race is one that you need to win. Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel all have, but unless you’re driving a Mercedes, it’s unlikely you’ll be tasting the winner’s champagne this year.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race winner: Nico Rosberg. I still maintain that Nico will win the title, and Monaco is the perfect place for him to stop Lewis’ winning streak. He won here last year, and if he can stick it on pole on Saturday, I see no reason why he can’t do it again in 2014.

Surprising finish: Jules Bianchi. Perhaps it’s the optimist in me, but if we get a crazy race and a number of retirements, Jules could yet better Max Chilton’s current top result of P13, or even nick a point. Maybe a bit of a longshot, but if it is going to happen anywhere, it’s Monaco.

Most to prove: Sauber. They’ve been dreadful this year, and really could do with a result in Monaco. Adrian, Esteban, just keep it out of the walls and you should be okay. Seriously in need of points, though.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race winner: Lewis Hamilton. Although the track occasionally throws up a surprise – teammate Nico Rosberg winning last year wasn’t an obvious pick, and guys like Jarno Trulli and Olivier Panis have won here in the past – I don’t see the weekend shaping up as anyone being able to beat the Mercedes. Hamilton’s roll is hard to stop at the moment, as is the W05 chassis.

Surprising finish: Romain Grosjean. Lotus seems to have turned the corner performance wise starting in Spain and as my colleague Luke wrote over the weekend, this is a big weekend for Romain to show what he can do at a track where he has a checkered past. If a top-five is possible for Lotus, it’s going to be via “RoGro,” and not Pastor Maldonado (even though he’s run well here in the past, too, he’d be a bigger surprise finishing well to me).

Most to prove: McLaren. This is the marquee event. This is a marquee team. You haven’t scored in three races lads. Get on with it. 

Christopher Estrada (@estradawriting)

Race winner: Lewis Hamilton. Mercedes will triumph once again in Monte Carlo, but this time, it will be Hamilton drinking the champagne after his fifth consecutive Grand Prix win.

Surprising finish: Romain Grosjean. Lotus and Grosjean finally got on the board last time out in Spain, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Frenchman put his 2013 Monaco crash with Daniel Ricciardo behind him with another points run.

Most to prove: Felipe Massa. As I wrote on Monday, his 2013 visit to Monaco for Ferrari was dreadful and he’s trying to get himself sorted at Williams. A good finish here should boost his confidence considerably.

Jerry Bonkowski (@JerryBonkowski)

Race winner: Nico Rosberg. It’s getting harder and harder to pick against the Mercedes juggernaut of Rosberg and teammate Lewis Hamilton. So as the old saying goes, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Look for another 1-2 Mercedes finish with Rosberg crossing the finish line ahead of Hamilton.

Surprising finish: Kimi Raikkonen. Old habits die hard. We’ve been waiting all season thus far for Kimi to get moving upward in the standings, but he just seems to have hit a wall (literally, not figuratively). Will Monaco be Kimi’s breakout and breakthrough race? We hope so. We’ll keep riding this horse until it finally gets to galloping to a podium finish. With teammate Fernando Alonso doing so well, there’s no reason Kimi why can’t follow suit.

Most to prove: Felipe Massa. Sitting 12th in the standings and with only 12 points thus far this season, we would have thought Massa would be ranked a lot higher than he is heading into Monaco. Massa is far better than his ranking indicates. While we’re not expecting a miracle such as a win, a podium finish would do wonders. The problem is he has a number of other drivers ranked ahead of him that will likely beat him to the podium.

Ecclestone has ‘no doubts’ Monza will remain on F1 calendar

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MILAN (AP) Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is confident the Italian Grand Prix in Monza can find the needed cash to stay on the calendar.

Ecclestone tells the Gazzetta dello Sport, “We will find the right solution – I no longer have doubts – to provide a future for the Italian GP.”

No circuit has hosted more F1 racing than Monza, but officials at the track outside Milan have had trouble producing the estimated 25 million euros ($26.6 million) per year that Ecclestone seeks to keep the race in place after the current contract expires next year.

Ecclstone says, “Things have been cleared up and there is only one go between, (Angelo) Sticchi Damiani, the president of the Italian Automobile Club.”

The Italian GP next year is scheduled for Sept. 4.

Alternative engine solution rejected by F1 Commission

Nico Rosberg

Plans to introduce a new alternative, cheaper engine into Formula 1 for 2017 – hypothetically a 2.2-liter V6 similar to what is seen in IndyCar – will at least temporarily go on the backburner.

The F1 Commission has rejected the so called “alternative engine solution,” where several companies submitted proposals to be that alternative supplier.

“The F1 Commission voted not to pursue this option at this stage — however, it may be reassessed after the Power Unit manufacturers have presented their proposal to the Strategy Group,” the FIA said on Wednesday.

“The parties involved have agreed on a course to address several key areas relating to Power Unit supply in Formula One,” the statement added.

Meanwhile the statement outlined four things the current manufacturers – Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda – would be tasked with improving on the current 1.6-liter formula:

Those are:

  • a guarantee of supply to teams
  • the need to reduce the engines’ cost
  • simplification of the specification
  • “improved noise”

Further meetings between the manufacturers and the governing body are scheduled, including one this weekend at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season finale.

As F1 heads into the final weekend of the season, political/paddock items such as Red Bull and Toro Rosso’s respective power unit futures, whether Renault’s takeover of Lotus will finally become official and what will happen with Manor’s team leadership stake – this marks Graeme Lowdon and John Booth’s final weekends although ex-McLaren man Dave Ryan has been hired as the team’s new racing director – are among the talking points.

Stoffel Vandoorne’s Super Formula test hampered by engine woes

Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne
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You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Dominant GP2 Series champion Stoffel Vandoorne had his first go in a Super Formula car at Suzuka on Wednesday, but the engine woes that have hampered his Formula 1 team’s efforts (McLaren) all season appear to be equal opportunity woes.

Vandoorne only completed a limited day of running due to technical issues; naturally, and in an unfortunate coincidence, the Super Formula cars also have Honda power.

The Belgian is now en route from Japan to Abu Dhabi, where this weekend’s final round of the GP2 season will be held alongside the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

FIA Formula E to remain at Battersea Park following vote

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Wandsworth Council’s Community Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee voted seven to four late Tuesday night, in favor of retaining the FIA Formula E event in Battersea Park.

This will see the London ePrix – the season finale for the electric open-wheel championship – continue at the site for at least the next two seasons.

The 2016 race will run July 2-3, to avoid a direct head-to-head clash with the British Grand Prix a week later in Silverstone.

Battersea Park’s race faced local opposition in recent weeks, which put the race under threat.