Canadian F1 Grand Prix - Previews

2014 Canadian Grand Prix Preview

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F1’s global adventure continues this weekend with the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. This race marks the sport’s first foray into North America since the United States Grand Prix in Austin last November, and should be well attended by the American fans.

Those who do make the journey north will get a chance to cheer on a home-grown driver as Alexander Rossi takes part in the first free practice session for Caterham. Rossi is balancing his reserve driver commitments with a full GP2 campaign, and although the first part of the year hasn’t gone entirely to plan in the feeder series, he will still be keen on putting in an impressive display behind the wheel of the CT-05.

At the front of the grid, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are set to resume battle after a tenuous weekend in Monaco. With a truce being called last week, the waters may have calmed at Mercedes, but that won’t stop either driver from pushing this weekend in the battle for the championship lead.

2014 Canadian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Hamilton plans on re-claiming Montreal crown

Lewis Hamilton’s record around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is extraordinary. After winning there at just his sixth ever grand prix in 2007, the Briton also emerged victorious in 2010 and 2012. In 2008, he retired after starting from pole, and he also dropped out of the legendary 2011 race after a run-in with McLaren teammate Jenson Button. Last year was in fact the first time that he had finished the Canadian Grand Prix and not won it, coming home in third. Can he re-claim his crown this weekend?

Mercedes to power ahead?

So far this season, the Mercedes-engined cars have been the ones to beat, and this weekend could see them enjoy their biggest advantage yet. The long straights and high-power nature of the Circuit Gills Villeneuve means that Force India, Williams and McLaren will be more at home, but quite whether this translates into a podium finish remains to be seen.

Renault finally up to speed, apparently

After a difficult start to the 2014 season, Renault has apparently quelled its engine woes and should be in better shape for this weekend’s race in Montreal. Red Bull, Lotus, Toro Rosso and Caterham have all been struggling with their power units so far this year, but according to Renault Sport F1 head Remi Taffin, this race marks “the first full opportunity to see where we are versus the competition”.

Play it again, Jules

Jules Bianchi’s ninth place finish for Marussia at the Monaco Grand Prix was a truly brilliant story, with both the driver and the team scoring their first ever points. Just like any good trick, there is now a baying crowd crying “do it again!” It might be a bit of a stretch in Montreal, but should another race of attrition set in, who knows?

And what of Ferrari?

Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen have been struggling for much of this season, but in Monaco there were signs of a revival. Raikkonen looked poised to finish third, but a run-in with an errant Marussia ended his hopes. Alonso finished a lonely fourth, and he’d be lucky to finish there this weekend. The Italian chargers need to find their feet sooner rather than later, and this weekend could be an important one.

Canada – Facts and Figures

Track: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Laps: 
70
Corners: 13
Lap Record: Ralf Schumacher 1:12.275 (2004)
Tyre Compounds: Super-Soft (Option); Soft (Prime)
2013 Winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2013 Pole Position: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1:25.425
2013 Fastest Lap: Mark Webber (Red Bull) 1:16.182
DRS Zone: Main straight (T13 to T1); back straight (T11 to T12)

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

Conor Daly’s IndyCar gets painted

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Conor Daly
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Conor Daly will compete full-time in the Verizon IndyCar Series this year in a ride for Dale Coyne Racing.

Daly will make laps in the No. 18 Honda sponsored by Jonathan Byrd’s. The 24-year-old driver tweeted out a picture today of his race car getting painted for the season, which starts on March 13.

Daly has six IndyCar races under his belt so far.

USF2000 reintroduces National Class for 2016

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The National Class is officially back in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series for 2016.

Yes, when Eric Filgueiras and Spencer Racing announced they’d be in the National Class, that kind of gave it away that the class would be back without it being formally introduced.

Luckily though, the series has released the news today. A formal release is below:

Drivers seeking to make their way onto the Mazda Road to Indy now have an alternate, lower-cost route onto the first rung, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, with today’s confirmation that the National Class will be returning in 2016.

The Mazda Road to Indy is unique in the world of auto racing, offering a scholarship-funded path all the way from karting via USF2000, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500.

Eligible to drivers at least 20 years of age before or during the 2016 season, the National Class will be open to all Sports Car Club of America-legal FC (Formula Continental) cars, from any chassis manufacturer, dating back to 2000. Any aerodynamic devices approved by the SCCA are permitted, although in the interests of safety all cars must be fitted with a nosebox crash structure, wheel tethers, Staubli devices, approved head surrounds and seats and yellow light system as required by all other current USF2000 cars.

Cars will be permitted to run either the same 2.0-liter Mazda MZR engine per the USF2000 Championship Class regulations or sealed 2.0-liter Ford Zetec motors as prepared by Elite Engines or Quicksilver RacEngines with National Class mapping. Any SCCA-legal 6″ and 8″ wheels may be used, although all cars must run on Cooper tires.

Entry fees will be discounted 50 percent below the Championship Class rate, and each race winner will earn a free entry for an upcoming event in the same season. The second-place finisher will claim a 50 percent reduction in the entry fee for an upcoming race. In addition, race winners equipped with the MZR engine will take home a $1,000 award from Mazda.

As an added benefit and based on a minimum average car count of five entries per race weekend, the 2016 National Class champion will receive an “entry ticket” to the Mazda Road to Indy $200K Scholarship Shootout in the fall of this year where champions of select junior level-open wheel and karting series from around the world will compete for a Mazda scholarship to enter the USF2000 Championship Class in 2017.

The point system will be the same used by the Masters Class (formerly Expert Class) in the Pro Mazda championship.

“We are excited to bring back the National Class and allow drivers to sample the Mazda Road to Indy,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “RC Enerson began his path on the ladder system in the National Class. It’s a great first step onto the platform for many drivers, and we are excited to offer this year’s champion an entry into the Shootout as well as a full-season entry package to USF2000 in 2017 in either the Championship or National Class.”

The Mazda Road to Indy will head to Barber Motorsport Park for Spring Training on March 5 (Indy Lights) and 6/7 (USF2000/Pro Mazda). The 2016 season will kick off on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 11-13 in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Report: Scott Tucker arrested by FBI in payday lending scheme

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - JANUARY 30:  The #95 Level 5 Motorsports BMW Riley driven by Scott Tucker, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Richard Westbrook and Raphael Matos during The Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on January 30, 2011 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)
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For four years from 2010 to 2013, Scott Tucker and Level 5 Motorsports were American Le Mans Series regulars, first in the Prototype Challenge class and then the LMP2 class. They won, a lot, and were a regular championship-contending effort, plus those who worked for the team had nothing but positive things to say about the operation that was run.

That said, the funding of the team was always perpetually questioned, as Tucker was always allegedly involved within the payday lending business, and had reportedly abusive practices towards customers.

This has been something of a bubbling story for five years but per Reuters, on Wednesday, Tucker and one of his lawyers were arrested by the FBI for their alleged exploitation.

Per Reuters, an indictment filed in Manhattan federal court outlined millions that went to Tucker, who then used it for various luxury items. Allegedly, more than $67 million went to the Level 5 Motorsports race team.

Level 5’s last IMSA series start came under the unified TUDOR United SportsCar Championship umbrella in January 2014, when the team won the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the GT Daytona class. The team withdrew from the championship following that race.

Social Roundup: IndyCar tests at Sonoma, Fontana

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Simon Pagenaud
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There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?

The engines of the Verizon IndyCar Series have roared back to life this week, a month before the season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

After a test at Phoenix International Raceway two days ago, two more tests are occurring today in California, at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana and at Sonoma Raceway.

At Auto Cub Speedway is Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Munoz and James Hinchcliffe.

In Sonoma is the entirety of the Chip Ganassi Racing team and Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud from Team Penske.

Here’s a look at how the day is progressing at each test through social media. We’ll update throughout the day. If you’re attending either test, tweet us pictures at @MotorSportsTalk or @danielmcfadin of how you’re taking in the beginning of the 2016 season.

Sonoma Raceway

Auto Club Speedway