Can anyone trouble the Mercedes drivers in Canada?

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Another Saturday, another pole position and front row lockout for Mercedes. Business as usual. Nico Rosberg snatched pole position away from Lewis Hamilton by just 0.079 seconds when the checkered flag fell, with Sebastian Vettel finishing as the ‘best of the rest’ – some six-tenths of a second further back.

Surely, once again in Canada, we look set for a Mercedes runaway? The added gusto of the German marque’s power unit is particularly crucial here with the long back straight at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, so maybe its advantage will be even greater? Williams – also powered by Mercedes – proved in qualifying that it could make it a clean sweep for the engine supplier on the podium this weekend, relying that Valtteri Bottas or Felipe Massa can beat the Red Bulls from fourth and fifth on the grid.

Pole man Nico Rosberg certainly believes that the fight for the race win will once again be between himself and Lewis Hamilton.

“I expect that it’s going to be between the two of us for now, yes,” he said after qualifying. “But of course there can be surprises so we need to still make sure we push, but I think we have enough of a gap at the moment on race pace.”

Hamilton, on the other hand, remains wary of the likes of Red Bull and Williams.

“I don’t think it’s just between the two of us,” the Briton began. “Obviously in qualifying Sebastian wasn’t as close as perhaps he would like to be but the race pace was great in the last race so I anticipate tomorrow they [Red Bull] should be quite strong.

“We definitely cannot disregard Sebastian or Red Bull. I think we need to be very cautious still, and make sure that we keep pushing.”

Mercedes’ race pace in practice was consistently quicker than that of both Red Bull drivers, so Hamilton’s comments may be more about him erring on the side of caution and not wishing to get too complacent. In reality, though, the fight for the race win in Montreal – and with it, the championship lead – will be an all-Mercedes affair.

IndyCar: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports expands mentoring program for tech school students

Photos: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
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IndyCar team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced today that it is extending and widening a unique sponsorship and mentoring program that began last season with students from Lincoln Technical Institute.

The program began last year, with students from several Lincoln Tech branches attending select IndyCar events for an entire weekend.

The students, primarily from auto and diesel training programs, got an insiders experience with the team, taking part in team meetings, watching team workers prepare and service the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe, sat on pit boxes during practices, qualifying and, of course races.

The overall experience was to get students more interested and involved in potential careers in the IndyCar field.

“We said at the beginning of last season that we knew our students would benefit and learn from the professionalism and drive of the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team,” Lincoln Tech President and CEO Scott Shaw said. “But the experience they received working with the entire pit crew team and in particular crew member Cole Jagger – a Lincoln Tech graduate himself – went beyond even our own expectations.

“We were grateful for the time they spent mentoring our students, and we are thrilled to once again be part of the racing legacy of team owners Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson.”

Lincoln Tech will once again serve as an associate sponsor on Hinchcliffe’s car for the entire 2018 IndyCar season. In addition, it is expanding its Mentor Program to select students to attend a minimum of nine IndyCar races from six last season.

Students are selected based upon their grade point average, attendance, conduct and overall commitment to becoming outstanding automotive technicians. An interest in IndyCar and a desire to work in the industry is also considered.

One student that took part last season, Tyler Crist of Lincoln Tech’s Denver campus, joined the team at the IndyCar race in Long Beach last April, watching as Hinchcliffe won the event.

“It was the best weekend of my life,” Crist said after the event. “It reminded me of why I joined this field in the first place and to never give up on my dreams.”

Jagger will oversee the expanded mentoring program this season. For Jagger, being involved especially hits home, as he is a graduate of Lincoln Tech’s Indianapolis campus.

“I totally enjoyed working with the Lincoln Tech students that participated in the Mentor Program last year and look forward to meeting this year’s group,” Jagger said. “Being a Lincoln Tech grad, I hope the students realize that if you have a passion for cars, a career in racing is something that’s not out of reach. If I can be an example for them to follow, that makes it even more rewarding.”

In addition to the at-track activities of the mentoring program, several Lincoln Tech branches across the country will utilize CNC computerized machining and manufacturing tools to assist in creating car parts for SPM.

“Through this unique partnership, we’re able to hopefully find the next class of talent that could one day be part of our organization,” SPM president Jon Flack said. “We’re looking forward to another year of the mentorship program and having their students be ‘boots on the ground’ gaining real-life experience with our team.”

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