F1 Grand Prix of Monaco - Practice

Hulkenberg impressive once again, finishing fifth in Monaco

Leave a comment

Nico Hulkenberg once again put in an impressive display to finish the Monaco Grand Prix in fifth place for Force India.

The German driver has made a sensational start to the season, scoring points in every race so far, and with this result he has risen to fifth place in the drivers’ championship ahead of defending world champion Sebastian Vettel.

After starting in 11th place, Hulkenberg moved up to eighth behind Jean-Eric Vergne before the first round of stops despite starting on the slower tire. He pitted under the safety car, and gained a place when the Frenchman was penalized for an unsafe release in the pit lane.

Hulkenberg then made an extraordinary overtake on McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen at Portier to move up to fifth place after Kimi Raikkonen had also hit trouble and dropped back. Despite his tires fading towards the end, the German driver managed to fend off Jenson Button and score ten valuable points.

“Ten points today is a great reward after such a difficult race,” Hulkenberg explained. “The last 20 laps were really tricky because my super-soft tires were at the end of their life and it was hard to hold off the cars behind me and stay away from the barriers.

“There were some enjoyable moments in the race, especially my move on Magnussen. He had to let the Toro Rosso back through and he lost a bit of momentum so I saw my opportunity to stick my nose down the inside of turn eight. On a track like Monaco it gives you a big smile to make the move stick.”

However, Force India teammate Sergio Perez was less fortunate as he crashed out on the first lap. At Mirabeau, the Mexican tangled with Jenson Button, and was forced to retire from the race.

Once again, though, Hulkenberg proved his sheer class, giving the bigger teams in Formula 1 an idea of what they’re missing after passing up the opportunity to sign him.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
Leave a comment

MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 15th and the rookie-of-the-year for 2015, was Gabby Chaves.

Gabby Chaves, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

  • 2014: Indy Lights champion
  • 2015: 15th Place, Best Finish 9th, Best Start 12th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 31 Laps Led, 19.3 Avg. Start, 14.4 Avg. Finish

Some drivers finish better than their performances show. Some drivers have performances better than their results show. The latter statement applied to Gabby Chaves in his rookie year, in what was an impressive first season after making the step up from Indy Lights, which deservedly earned him rookie-of-the-year honors.

The best comparison I’d make for Gabby is of Josef Newgarden in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a first-year driver on a single-car, newish team to the series.

Chaves rarely dazzled in qualifying but that wasn’t his fault; he and engineer John Dick worked well together and Chaves recounted multiple times this year that a tweak here or tweak there, the wrong way, on the aero kit would send them down the wrong setup path.

Results in races didn’t measure up either but again that was through almost no fault of his own. The only time Chaves looked truly like a rookie was at St. Pete, when he had several collisions. Otherwise he was ahead of eventual winner James Hinchcliffe at NOLA before getting punted off, reliable through the month of May in Indianapolis, finally able to break through for a ninth place in Detroit race two, overachieving in Texas, 11th at Milwaukee after some great wheel-to-wheel racing with series winners and champions, and then phenomenal at Pocono as he was on course for a first career win or podium before late-race engine issues – his first DNF of the season.

For both Chaves and Herta, you’d love to see them together for another season, and the results and confidence for both parties will grow as a result. Those who’ve seen Newgarden’s rise over four years with Fisher and now CFH will note the long-term stability, and that’s what Chaves could do if he gets the time.

He planted the seed of being a great IndyCar driver, and he became pretty versatile during the year too with additional appearances in the DeltaWing prototype, a short-track midget and one of Herta’s Red Bull Global Rallycross cars. To boot, he’s a smart, great kid who is mature beyond his years, and someone you should be buying stock in now. Anyone who saw Chaves in the Mazda Road to Indy should not have been surprised by his rookie season in the big cars.

Off The Grid: Monza preview (premieres Saturday 10/10 on NBCSN)

F1 Grand Prix of Italy
© Getty Images
Leave a comment

Having already taken you behind the scenes in Barcelona, Budapest, Singapore, Melbourne and Silverstone, Will Buxton and Jason Swales now head to one of Formula 1’s most iconic venues for the latest episode of Off The Grid.

Monza has appeared in all but one F1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950, and is a firm favorite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

However, there is far more to the Italian Grand Prix than meets the eye, as we find out in Saturday’s premiere of Off The Grid: Monza at 9:30am ET (follows Russian GP qualifying).

Having honed his talents in go-karts as a kid, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is now trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of racers. But can he teach Will or Jason a thing or two?

We also catch up with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and get a feel for life on the road as he takes us for a tour of his lavish bus in which he travels in for the European F1 races.

Have you ever wondered just how the suits F1 drivers wear are made? We go behind the scenes at Alpine Stars’ factory in Italy and find out.

Off The Grid: Monza premieres on Saturday at 9:30am ET on NBCSN following Russian GP qualifying.