Nico Rosberg

Canadian GP Paddock Notebook – Saturday

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Who would have thought it? Nico Rosberg snatching pole position away from Lewis Hamilton at the Briton’s favorite circuit? Ouch. How will that go down in the Mercedes garage?

Given that things are apparently okay between the two now, it will probably be alright. Just as Lewis said in the post-qualifying press conference, “Nico just did a better job today so I need to work hard to make sure I do better tomorrow”. That’s the kind of attitude we like to see in our racing drivers.

It was certainly a busy day at the circuit, so here’s the latest paddock notebook from the Canadian Grand Prix.


  • The final say in practice did in fact go to Hamilton, and the margin by which he gapped the rest of the field on the slower tire was phenomenal. It didn’t seem like he could be beaten…
  • …but then Nico did exactly that. The German driver produced a fine final lap in Q3 to snatch pole position away from the Briton. Williams and Red Bull both put in an impressive display, while Ferrari and McLaren struggled.



Nico beating Lewis? Who would have thought it? In the media centre, it was a common assumption that Hamilton would bag his fifth pole position of the season. After all, this is his circuit; he always goes well around here. However, a mistake heading down to the hairpin meant that he lost a fraction of time. Unfortunately for him, said fraction was enough to cost him pole to Rosberg. Thankfully, we had none of the theatrics of Monaco. Lewis simply held his hands up and said that Nico was quicker.

What we do have is a cracking fight for the win tomorrow, though. The run into the first corner will be massive for the result of the race, and even though he might start from second, the smart money will still be on Lewis Hamilton. As Nico proved today, though, he is not to be discounted.

The battle further back is a little more complex. Williams turned out to be the dark horse of qualifying, with Valtteri Bottas finishing fourth ahead of Felipe Massa. The two drivers both will be hoping to convert this into a strong double score tomorrow, whereas Red Bull will want the Martini-liveried cars to have as much trouble as possible. Daniel Ricciardo was his smiley self after qualifying, but he made no secret of his annoyance after having missed out on P3 by less than half a tenth of a second.

At Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen was once again anonymous in the final session, and Fernando Alonso once again dragged the car to just seventh on the grid. Fighting with Red Bull and Williams might be a bit of a long shot for the prancing horses tomorrow.

Finally, a few thoughts on Gene Haas’ comments to NBCSN about his F1 team. It’s fantastic that we will have an American team on the grid in 2016, and if there’s an American driver (not mentioning any names… Alexander Rossi), that would be awesome. That’s why I find his comments about Danica Patrick being a candidate confusing.

Sure, Danica would be very marketable, and yes, she does have open wheel experience. However, she would be 34 by the time the team makes its debut. A 34-year-old rookie in F1? It goes against the idea of nurturing the next generation of drivers, one of whom has to be Rossi. Of course, this debate will rumble on until Gene signs a deal with his drivers, which probably would’t be for another 12 to 18 months yet.

Race day tomorrow promises to be a fascinating one. Be sure to watch the Canadian Grand Prix live on NBC from 2pm ET, with build-up starting on NBCSN from 1:30pm ET.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
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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
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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.