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
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.

Raikkonen: No secret to qualifying charge in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 28:  Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari drives during final practice for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 28, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
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Kimi Raikkonen says that there was no secret behind his late charge to third place in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but remains realistic about his chances in Sunday’s race.

After seeing teammate Sebastian Vettel drop out in Q1, Raikkonen led Ferrari’s charge at the Yas Marina Circuit by finishing third behind the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.

Raikkonen managed to edge out Force India driver Sergio Perez for P3 with his final lap in Q3, but the Finn said that there was no secret to his late charge.

“No real secret,” Raikkonen said. “Obviously the car has been handling pretty well all weekend.

“The laps haven’t been ideal many times. Even the first run, it was OK the lap, but I knew there was quite a lot of room to improve so I just tried to make one a bit better lap and it was enough.

“Obviously still a bit of a way off from what these guys can do but we did our best today.

“The Mercedes have been very quick today and yesterday, in the lap times they are a bit faster than us, but the race is tomorrow, so let’s see.

“I did my maximum today. Tomorrow is another day, we can only do our best and see where we’ll end up. We’ll try to make a good start and then see how it pans out, going from there and making the right decisions.”

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7am ET on Sunday.

Porsche confirms unchanged line-up for 2016 WEC season

Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche Team: Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, Marc Lieb
© Porsche
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Following Audi’s press conference earlier today confirming its plans for the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship season, Porsche has followed suit by announcing it will be retaining all six of its existing LMP1 drivers for the new campaign.

Porsche enjoyed immense success in 2015 as Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard took the drivers’ championship in dramatic fashion at the 6 Hours of Bahrain, adding to the manufacturers’ title the marque had won three weeks earlier in Shanghai.

The 919 Hybrid LMP1 car took pole position for every race in 2015, and also won Porsche’s first 24 Hours of Le Mans since 1998 with the third entry of Nico Hulkenberg, Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber.

However, Porsche confirmed that it will be only racing with its two regular WEC entries at Le Mans next June, reflecting Audi’s move to help cut costs.

Porsche will once again run the same two line-ups, with Webber, Hartley and Bernhard set to defend their championship together with the no. 1 car. Marc Lieb, Neel Jani and Romain Dumas will team up for a third successive year in the second 919 Hybrid.

“The advice of ‘never change a winning team’ is spot on,” LMP1 vice-president Fritz Enzinger said.

“Both our driver trios didn’t only perform brilliantly on track, but have also been with us since the beginning of the programme and have significantly contributed to the Porsche 919 Hybrid’s development.

“We are very proud of these six top drivers, and very pleased all of them are on board for the 2016 world championship and the Le Mans 24 Hours.”

The decision to not run a third car at Le Mans not only ends Hulkenberg’s already-faint hopes of defending his title, but also will leave Tandy and Bamber looking for drives elsewhere.

It also puts an end to speculation that Juan Pablo Montoya could be set to bid for the Triple Crown and race at Le Mans, having tested with Porsche in Bahrain last week.

GP2: Vandoorne breaks win record, Rossi secures P2 in championship

2015 GP2 Series Round 11.
Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Saturday 28 November 2015.
Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL, ART Grand Prix) 
Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.
ref: Digital Image _SBL9548
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Stoffel Vandoorne claimed a record-breaking 11th GP2 Series victory in Abu Dhabi on Sunday after seeing off challenges from Pierre Gasly and Raffaele Marciello at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Starting second, Vandoorne made a good start but was unable to pass Gasly on the first lap, forcing him to settle down in P2 for the opening stages of the race.

Vandoorne made his move for the lead on lap four, diving down the inside of Gasly at the turn seven hairpin before establishing an advantage over the field.

Gasly dropped down the order as the option tire runners began to lose grip, prompting an early round of pit stops and allowing Raffaele Marciello to hit the front as the lead driver on primes.

Marciello retained this advantage until stopping at the end of lap 26, but emerged from the pits behind Vandoorne. The Italian was just ahead of Mitch Evans, leaving him to battle for second place in the closing stages against the prime-shod Russian Time racer.

Vandoorne was able to ease home at the front to record his seventh win of the year and 11th in GP2, beating Pastor Maldonado’s existing record of ten to become the most successful driver in the history of the series.

Marciello fended off Evans to finish second by less than one second, while American driver Alexander Rossi closely followed them home in fourth.

The result ensures that Rossi will finish the year as GP2’s vice-champion behind Vandoorne in the final standings.

Tomorrow’s sprint race will see Alex Lynn start from pole position for DAMS after finishing eighth on Saturday. Rio Haryanto will start from P2 by virtue of his seventh-place finish, with Jordan King and Gasly filling the second row of the grid.

New Audi R18 e-tron quattro unveiled; two cars only for Le Mans

Photo: Audi
Photo: Audi
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Audi Sport has revealed its new Audi R18 e-tron quattro, the latest generation of diesel-powered TDI which now will run with a 6 mJ battery hybrid.

The new LMP1 car was unveiled at the annual Audi Sport Finale in Munich, among several other key announcements of note.

Audi will retain its same driver lineup, the lead trio of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler in one car with Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis back as well. After the successive retirements of Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Dindo Capello the last three years, Audi now has the same lineup for consecutive years, for the first time in years.

However, and while the third car trio of Filipe Albuquerque, Marco Bonanomi and Rene Rast was on stage with the six others, Audi confirmed both it and sister brand Porsche will run two cars only at next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, rather than three as each did this year.

It was a jointly agreed upon decision; both operate under the VW Group parent company. It effectively rules out the same trio of Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber and Nico Hulkenberg repeating as a trio, although Porsche will announce the program for its own drivers next month.

“We stay with the TDI, 50 percent more hybrid power,” said Chris Reinke, Head of Audi LMP1. “Battery storage and high focus on aero as you can see. We are on our way to challenge for WEC and Le Mans wins.”

Here’s a few photos from the reveal, below: