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.

Andretti Autosport endures tough Road America outing

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All four of the Andretti Autosport drivers encountered significant problems during the Kohler Grand Prix, and none of them were able to salvage finishes inside the top ten as a result.

Most notably, Takuma Sato endured the most difficult weekend of the four-car armada after suffering a pinched nerve in his neck on Saturday, which forced him to miss the morning warmup.

And things didn’t get any better during the race, as a lap 28 spin exiting the Kink saw him lose a lap and forced him to play catchup even more than he already was. Although Sato managed to finish the race, hardly insignificant given his neck injury, he did so in 19th after starting 20th in what proved to be his worst race since winning the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

“It was a tough weekend and tough race,” lamented Sato. “I injured my neck during practice Saturday morning. We started in the back row, tried to make a push up, but I caught an accident. The engine was stalled and I wasn’t sure if we could continue, but the safety crew came and fired up the engine, so I came back to the pit, buckled again and I was able to keep going. In the end we made the finish, but we need a better weekend.”

His teammates did not fair much better. Alexander Rossi, who qualified a disappointing 15th, ran a four-stop pit strategy, and while he cycled into the top five at one point, an issue with the front wing saw him fall to 13th at the finish.

Alexander Rossi was fast Road America, but an issue with the front wing dropped him back in the field at the end. Photo: IndyCar

“I think we started with a good strategy, going for a four-stop race after starting 15th, but it all caught up to us on that first yellow,” Rossi explained. “Luckily, we had already gained track position and speed running on open track. We had an issue with our front wing, which ironically or not, is the same issue we finished the race with here last year, so we definitely need to figure out exactly what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay, too, had strong pace, even leading the Sunday morning warmup and running inside the top ten late in the race. But, contact with Charlie Kimball while battling for sixth broke the front wing on the No. 28 DHL Honda, and Hunter-Reay languished in 14th at the checkered flag.

Ryan Hunter-Reay was was 14th at the checkered flag after battling inside the top ten late in the race. Photo: IndyCar

“Charlie (Kimball) made a late block and took off my front wing. I had a good race going until Charlie moved out late like that, it’s just really unfortunate,” Hunter-Reay said of the incident.

Meanwhile, Marco Andretti battled a litany of problems, ranging from throttle issues to a broken pit speed limiter, which resulted in a drive-penalty for speeding during a round of pit stops. Andretti was a lowly 18th at the finish.

Marco Andretti battled a host of problems during the Kohler Grand Prix. Photo: IndyCar

“We started eighth, but ran into throttle problems. We went off track on the first stint because the throttle stuck wide open. We came into the pits to try to fix it and got hit with a pit lane speed violation because my pit lane limiter wasn’t working. We still weren’t getting full throttle – I was barely hitting sixth gear,” he lamented afterward.

Sato remains in the top five in the championship, now sitting fourth, 56 points behind leader Scott Dixon. Rossi sits ninth, with Andretti and Hunter-Reay 13th and 15th respectively.

 

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Kimball, Chilton quiet but solid at Road America

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While Scott Dixon scored victory for Chip Ganassi Racing, two of the team’s other drivers enjoyed quietly solid days at the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America.

Charlie Kimball, in need of a strong finish after being stricken with bad luck so far in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, scored his best finish of the year with a fine run to sixth place. While he was never a part of the battle for victory, he was “best of the rest” for most of the day and enjoyed a solid, mistake-free run.

“Overall a really solid day for the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team,” Kimball said afterward. Though he admitted tire management in the race’s third stint hampered his efforts, he was more than pleased with the end result.

“That third stint, I don’t think I managed the Firestone alternates as well as some of the guys around me,” Kimball revealed. “You saw that with (Will Power) with a better in and out lap. That was disappointing, because I think we could have maybe had a shot at a top five. Overall though, to fight off some competitors for that last stint after the final yellow felt good and it felt good to bring it home in sixth for the guys. Kind of a semi-trouble free weekend and pretty happy with it.”

Teammate Max Chilton, too, scored a solid ten finish, the Briton finishing ninth. However, unlike Kimball, Chilton lamented not being able to finish higher on a circuit where he feels very comfortable.

Max Chilton during qualifying for the Kohler Grand Prix. Photo: IndyCar

“It’s not how we wanted it, especially after how quick we were (in the morning warmup),” said Chilton, who started seventh and was second fastest in the morning warmup. Like Kimball, he struggled with tire management, and an untimely caution when he was on the primary black tires put paid to his chances of a better finish.

“Something just wasn’t working for us. On a set of reds, we were struggling massively and then we went to the blacks, which would’ve been alright, but then the safety car came out and everyone else had longer life on the reds and I was struggling again.”

With the Kohler Grand Prix in the books, Chilton currently sits 11th in the championship, three points behind tenth-place Ed Jones, while Kimball remains 18th, 72 points outside the top ten.

Mahindra to give M4Electro Formula E car public debut at Goodwood

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Mahindra Racing will debut its new car for the fourth Formula E season, the M4Electro, at the famous Goodwood Festival of Speed later this week as part of a bid to beat the existing open-wheel electric record for the hillclimb.

As part of its preparations for season four of Formula E, set to start in Hong Kong at the beginning of December, Mahindra has already hit the track with the M4Electro in private testing.

Full-season drivers Felix Rosenqvist and Nick Heidfeld have both completed running in the car, while Indian actress Gul Panag has also taken part in a test.

Heidfeld will give the M4Electro its first public outing at Goodwood and look to become the first driver to hold two records at the hillclimb.

The German driver holds the overall hillclimb record of 41.6 seconds at Goodwood, set back in 1999 in a McLaren MP4/13 Formula 1 car.

“We’re excited to bring Nick and the M4Electro to Goodwood in a bid to set the fastest open-wheel electric record on the hillclimb,” Mahindra team boss Dilbagh Gill said.

“We are always looking to push the boundaries as a team and we couldn’t think of a better way to introduce the season four challenger to fans and automotive enthusiasts alike than at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.”

Qualcomm named title partner for New York Formula E race

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FIA Formula E has announced that technology company Qualcomm will be the title partner for the upcoming New York City ePrix as the all-electric series gears up to hit the United States in three weeks’ time.

New York City will play host to its first motorsport event in Red Hook on July 15-16, acting as the penultimate round of Formula E’s third season.

Qualcomm has been a key partner for Formula E since the series’ inception in 2014, and will now act as the New York race’s title partner after acquiring the naming rights, as announced on Monday. The event will be formally called the ‘Qualcomm New York City ePrix’.

“As one of our founding partners – and now for the first time a race title partner for one of the most anticipated races of the season – Qualcomm Technologies’ continued support and commitment to Formula E has been instrumental,” Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag said.

“We share many of the same values in the field of innovation and technology transfer, which we’ve already seen with unique wireless charging concepts.

“I’m looking forward to making history in New York by bringing Formula E to the Big Apple for the first time – it’s going to be an unmissable event.”

Derek Aberle, president of Qualcomm Incorporated, added: “Qualcomm inventions enable widespread innovation, just as motorsport fuels the evolution of the automotive industry.

“Formula E, including this Qualcomm ePrix race in New York City, is a great testbed for our automotive breakthroughs such as wireless electric vehicle charging.

“We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Formula E to promote the benefits of the latest vehicle technologies as cars become more connected, autonomous and electric.”