Canadian F1 Grand Prix - Race

MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Canadian GP

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Formula 1 makes its first visit to North America this weekend for the Canadian Grand Prix. After yet another Hamilton-Rosberg face-off in Monaco, the embers in the Mercedes fire appear to have cooled slightly, and relations between the two have improved. Of course, we will see on track just whether any love has been lost between our championship protagonists.

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve should see the Mercedes-powered cars dominate thanks to the long straights, requiring a good top speed. Renault claims to have made a step forwards, but Red Bull might be left scrapping with Force India and Williams this weekend. Can our writing experts make some sense of it all?

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race winner: Lewis Hamilton. Are you a Team Nico or Team Lewis? This weekend you want to be the latter. Montreal has traditionally been a Hamilton stronghold, so expect him to win out this weekend ahead of his teammate.

Surprising finish: Nico Hulkenberg. This circuit should allow the Mercedes-powered cars to excel and flourish, so Force India could be in line to challenge for a podium finish. This weekend could bring the Hulk’s first – and frankly overdue – podium finish.

Most to prove: Sauber. I write the same thing about Sauber for every single race – must improve! The car isn’t great, but now that the team has slipped behind Marussa in the constructors’ championship, the pressure will truly be on the Swiss team.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race winner: Lewis Hamilton. A track where he’s been dynamic in the past and with the motivation of wanting to avenge the loss in Monaco, I’ll say Hamilton takes it this weekend.

Surprising finish: Nico Hulkenberg. Hard to call much this kid does a “surprise” anymore but I feel that elusive first podium for him is achievable this weekend. If not, another “only” top-five will suffice.

Most to prove: Sauber. There’s not really an obvious “most to prove” candidate this weekend but given it’s now behind Marussia in the Constructor’s Championship and hasn’t shown any semblance of points-scoring potential, hopefully the Swiss squad can be something other than neutral this weekend.

Christopher Estrada (@estradawriting)

Race winner: Lewis Hamilton. With Circuit Gilles Villeneuve’s long straights providing ample opportunity for the Mercedes engine to show its stuff, it’ll be down to Hamilton and Rosberg for the win again. Hamilton’s won three times in Montreal, while Rosberg has never cracked the podium there. I gotta go with the Brit.

Surprising finish: Valtteri Bottas. Outside of Mercedes, it’s a tight battle among multiple squads for “best of the rest.” But after a disappointing power unit failure in Monaco, I figure that Bottas will be raring to go for Williams. He could be a contender for the last spot on the podium.

Most to prove: Sebastian Vettel. After delivering a stellar drive in Spain, a gearbox problem in Monaco handed the four-time defending World Champion his second DNF of the season. With engine supplier Renault saying Canada is their first real chance to properly stack up against the competition, Vettel needs to come through as he did in Barcelona.

Jerry Bonkowski (@JerryBonkowski)

Race winner: Nico Rosberg. It’s time for Rosberg to try and put more room between himself and fellow Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton. Thus far, this has been a classic matchup and done wonders for the overall team. But as each race goes by from this point on, it’s going to be every man for himself.

Surprising finish: Daniel Ricciardo. On paper, Ricciardo has been having an excellent season, ranked fourth after the first six races of the 19-race F1 schedule. But at the same time, Ricciardo is a distant fourth in terms of points behind Rosberg and Hamilton. Ricciardo needs to start picking up more points from here on out if he hopes to catch one or both of the Mercedes drivers.

Most to prove: Pastor Maldonado (and friends). Yes, Maldonado is ranked last in the points, joining five other drivers (Marcus Ericsson, Adrian Stuil, Esteban Gutierrez, Max Chilton and Kamui Kobayashi) who also have not earned any points thus far this season. But somewhere along the way, Maldonado and his fellow points-less drivers need to add some to their woeful earnings to date.

Porsche wins, champs crowned in rain-shortened Petit Le Mans

Photo: IMSA
Photo: IMSA

BRASELTON, Ga. – One of the more bizarre races in recent sports car history was called just prior to the eight-hour mark, as IMSA Race Director Beaux Barfield made the decision to end the 2015 edition of the Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda early.

It produced a surprise winner, as the GT Le Mans class No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR secured an overall victory courtesy of a storming drive from Nick Tandy and co-driver Patrick Pilet. Third driver Richard Lietz did not get to drive in the race.

Pilet has now secured the GTLM class championship, too, as a result.

Meanwhile Action Express Racing stormed from behind to win its second consecutive Prototype class championship.

The No. 5 Corvette DP of Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Sebastien Bourdais finished third overall – behind both the No. 911 car and No. 24 BMW Z4 GTE – but the result was enough to give it a class win and the class championship.

Other class champions include Jon Bennett and Colin Braun in Prototype Challenge in the No. 54 CORE autosport Oreca FLM09 and NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia in GT Daytona. Like the Action Express pairing, Bell and Sweedler came from behind to win the title.

Other race winners were the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca FLM09 of Tom Kimber-Smith, Mike Guasch and Andrew Palmer in PC and the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America of Spencer Pumpelly, Patrick Lindsey and Madison Snow in GTD.

The race was slowed by 10 full-course cautions and a number of accidents, spins, and other off-course excursions.

It also featured a red flag of one hour and five minutes during the race, but the race was resumed.

Barfield explained the decision to call the race when he did in a post-race press conference with assembled reporters:

“So a big part of reconnecting with the drivers and competitors in this paddock has been really open communication,” Barfield said.

“For the basis of this decision, I go back to Watkins Glen. At Watkins Glen because of the imminent weather we had coming there and how it ended up being managed, we encouraged more open dialogue to gather as much information as possible for our decision process.

“As it turned out that was very successful how they communicated real time.

“So going into this event, with the weather being similarly predictably bad, we reestablished that. How we communicated and went about it the same way.

“Today was really similar to that with our attention to our attention to what was going on the track and on the TV screeens, and with looking at the radar. With my knowledge of this track having spent a lot of time here in the past. Having a quick car availbel for recon laps during the vents. All of our decisions were for gathering information from those different directions.

“Fast forward to the very end of the race, the last restart, I felt in my gut that with the visibility issues, you have to think about these issues that produce two problems.

“One is the grip, hydroplaning – whatever part of the world you’re from – where issues where drivers have less control. An often forgotten major issue is the visibility. Cars with downforce shoot up such a spray, it’s hard to see around.

“The grip issue was one and dealt with but we had some daylight. The visibility was a problem. But not as it great as it became in the last hour when we lost sunlight.

“The light with the track conditions gave me no comfort level to go back green that is. What I saw on track, the visibility issues I had with a Porsche on track, you had the speed they had, you’d have to drop into night with a sunset, I felt like I’d be putting driver out there completely blind.

“So this decision was made to pull the plug and do the checkered flag.”

Bottas: Williams turning focus to 2016 car

Williams driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland steers his car to set the third fastest time during the qualifying session at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, Belgium, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. The Belgium Formula One Grand Prix will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
© AP
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Valtteri Bottas has explained how Williams is beginning to turn its attention to the development of its car for the 2016 Formula 1 season as the team settles into third place in the constructors’ championship.

Williams has struggled to put up much of a fight to Mercedes and Ferrari at the front of the field in 2015, picking up just three podium finishes.

With five races to go in the season, the team sits comfortably in third place in the constructors’ standings, knowing that neither the 129 point gap to Ferrari ahead or the 69 point difference to Red Bull behind are likely to be bridged.

As a result, the team is now turning attention to its 2016 car, the FW38, as explained by Bottas in his post-Japanese Grand Prix blog.

“As we get to this stage of the season some of the focus is switching to next year’s car and for sure we’ve been developing the FW38 for a long time,” Bottas said.

“That’s the target until the end of the season – to look ahead and put us in the best place for 2016. But if we can also find something that benefits this year’s car then we’ll use it as we would like to get more podiums before the season finishes. And if we can get closer to Ferrari then all the better.”

Williams has looked most comfortable at the high-speed tracks so far this season, and with the likes of the Circuit of The Americas, the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez and the Yas Marina Circuit all to come, the team should be in good stead for the final leg of the year.

“Most of the tracks we’re still going to this year should be good for us, so that’s very positive,” Bottas said. “I believe the upgrades we introduced for Singapore gave us more downforce and worked well, so they definitively worked here too.

“We ran the same bits on the car at Suzuka and were competitive but, obviously, Red Bull and Ferrari have made improvements too and they’ll be very difficult to beat in the coming races.”