Nico Rosberg Lewis Hamilton

Ricciardo’s win was just what Formula 1 needed


Good news stories in Formula 1 are usually quite hard to come by. In the past two weeks though, there have been plenty.

Jules Bianchi’s charge to ninth place at the Monaco Grand Prix for Marussia was a Cinderella story, given that neither the driver or team had scored any points in the previous four years of racing. This time around, it’s another first: Daniel Ricciardo’s first grand prix victory. And it couldn’t have happened at a better time.

Mercedes’ dominance in Formula 1 so far this season has been both staggering and monotonous. You have to admire the way in which Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton have ruled proceedings; the W05 is a mechanical masterpiece. In the same breath though, it was becoming predictable. It was a question of being Team Lewis or Team Nico – the rest of the field wasn’t realistically in the hunt for a race win.

But then Formula 1 reminded us of everything that is great about the sport. The old saying goes: “To finish first, first you have to finish”, and this resonated with Mercedes in Canada. Just when everything appeared to be going to plan, disaster struck in the form of a double ERS failure. The times for both cars dropped off dramatically due to the issue, and it proved to be serious enough to force Hamilton into retirement. Rosberg continued to plug away, and looked set to do the unthinkable with a few laps to go.

There’s the kicker: even though Rosberg was running between one and two seconds per lap slower than the other front-runners, he still finished second, such was his initial lead. It was a phenomenal result.

The biggest smile of course belonged to Daniel Ricciardo, though. Of all the people to break Mercedes’ dominant streak, perhaps it was best that it was the Australian driver. A first time grand prix winner, and one of the most popular racers on the grid among the fans and the F1 community as a whole. Few will begrudge him this victory.

Sebastian Vettel will know that he could – and maybe should – have won this race, though. He lost a huge amount of time stuck behind Nico Hulkenberg after making his first pit stop, and by pitting before Ricciardo, he lost a position in the pits to his teammate. In fact, he was just 0.4 seconds slower through the pits than his teammate. The race could have been lost on 0.4 seconds. If Seb was ahead of Dan, he probably would have been the one to pass Perez, and most probably would have been the one to then overtake Rosberg. The finger would have returned to the top step of the podium. Cue cries of “we saw that last season!”.

With Dan, though, the Canadian GP breathed fresh air into the championship and season. The perfect season is no longer on. Mercedes may still have the quickest car, only one man had the biggest smile after the race.

Report: No Mexico, 16 races expected on 2016 IndyCar schedule

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IndyCar chairman Mark Miles doesn’t expect the 2016 Verizon IndyCar season to begin in Mexico in February next year, according to a report by USA Today.

Though Miles said the Mexico race was “unlikely,” he believes the final schedule will 16 races at 15 venues over the course of seven months.

Miles said the series is waiting for a “highly, highly likely” event to be approved by a board around Oct. 13, going on to say it wasn’t Pocono Raceway.

“If we had to, we probably could put this out, in theory, sooner, but we want to go through the formality and respect the process of a formal approval from one of the promoters,” Miles said.

Miles said the Mexico City race has been put on hold due to concerns for proper promotion for the event, which would be the series’ first outside the United States since racing in Brazil in 2013.

“The process they needed to go through to get everything lined up has not really left a lot of time to be confident that everything can be done to properly promote the first race,” Miles told USA Today. “So I think the conversation is very much about ‘17. We just kind of ran out of time for ‘16.”

This is what is know about the 2016 IndyCar schedule so far.

Either the track, IndyCar, or an IndyCar support series (Pirelli World Challenge) have announced these dates for 2016:

March 13: St. Petersburg, Fla.
April 17: Long Beach, Calif.
April 24: Birmingham, Ala.
May 14: Indianapolis, In. (Indy GP)
May 29: Indianapolis, In. (100th Indy 500)
June 4-5: Detroit, Mich.
June 11: Fort Worth, Texas
June 26: Elkhart Lake, Wis.
July 31: Lexington, Ohio
Sept. 4: Boston, Mass.
Sept. 18: Sonoma, Calif.

These dates are not formal but are highly likely for 2016, per media reports:

April 2: Phoenix, AZ
July 17: Toronto, Ontario

These tracks have been rumored, but are yet to announce the status of IndyCar races for 2016:

Iowa Speedway
Pocono Raceway
The Milwaukee Mile
Gateway International Raceway

Williams hopes to improve on 2014 performance in Russian GP

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At this weekend’s Russian GP, Williams Martini Racing is looking for more of the same from Valtteri Bottas and a little improvement from Felipe Massa.

Last year, Bottas started and finished third while Lewis Hamilton ran away with the win, finishing 13 seconds over Nico Rosberg and 17 over Bottas in the inaugural race at the Sochi Autodrom.

Meanwhile, Massa started 18th after a fuel flow issue knocked him out of the first round of qualifying and managed an 11th-place finish.

Bottas and Massa enter the Sochi race fifth and sixth in the driver standings.

“We had a good result last year in Russia so we’re expecting another strong weekend and a good collection of points,” said Bottas in a release. “We all know the track now and it has a really good flow, with the long straights a good fit for our car.”

Bottas has finished in the top five in each of the last three races, two of which were won by Hamilton.

“Pace-wise we were close to Mercedes in Japan and I think we can be close again in Sochi, just like we were in 2014,” Bottas said, who also noted after Japan the team is set to turn its focus to its 2016 car.

Massa, who has two podium finishes this year, will try to bounce back from a DNF at Marina Bay and a 17th-place finish in Japan.

“I hope to make amends for qualifying last year and I’m confident we can have a competitive race,” Massa said in a team release.

“Russia is a very nice track with a few long straights which makes it interesting for overtaking,” Massa said of the 18-turn track. “The circuit has almost everything, starting with a straight and then moving into high-speed corners and then very slow corners in the middle sector. This makes setting up the car really important and the importance of downforce evident.”

The Russian Grand Prix can been seen on NBCSN on Sunday at 7 am ET.