F1 Grand Prix of Germany - Previews

Rosberg on top in first practice for German GP

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Nico Rosberg has finished fastest in the first free practice session for this weekend’s German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

The Mercedes driver headed up a Silver Arrows one-two with Lewis Hamilton in second place, finishing less than one-tenth of a second behind his teammate.

Rosberg has firmly set his sights on winning this weekend’s race at Hockenheim as he looks to cap off a perfect week. Since the last race at Silverstone, he has got married, seen his home nation win the FIFA World Cup and also signed a new long-term contract with Mercedes.

He began his assault on the race weekend in good fashion during FP1, although Hamilton’s pace was very impressive too. As the two drivers resume battle for the lead of the drivers’ championship, the pressure is well and truly on.

Fernando Alonso came home in a solid third for Ferrari, some three-tenths adrift of Rosberg at the front, whilst Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel finished in fourth and sixth place. Jenson Button was the meat in the Red Bull sandwich in fifth as McLaren teammate Kevin Magnussen finished seventh ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn had an issue on his car at the beginning of the session that forced him to sit in the pits for some time, but the team soon resolved it and he managed to put in 21 laps.

The session saw Susie Wolff return to the wheel of the Williams FW36 for the first time since her ill-fated practice at Silverstone. At first, lightning appeared set to strike twice when her car began to slow on her out lap. It was soon diagnosed as a gearbox issue, forcing her to stay in first gear, but she did manage to crawl back to the pits and have the car repaired.

Once Wolff got back out on track, she put in a very respectable display, finishing 15th and just two-tenths of a second off the time of full-time Williams driver Felipe Massa.

Giedo van der Garde was the only other reserve driver to take part in the session, stepping in for Esteban Gutierrez at Sauber. He finished in 16th place, whilst Adrian Sutil finished 10th in the sister C33.

For the time being though, the spoils lie with Rosberg. Be sure to join us at 8am ET for the second practice session, available via Live Extra and online by clicking here.

If you can’t join us then, you can watch the encore on NBCSN at 2:30pm ET. For more information on our F1 broadcasting options this weekend, click here.

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.