Photo via @RedBullMotors

Caterham GP2 team brings in Red Bull Junior Pierre Gasly for rest of 2014

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Red Bull Junior drivers have been heavily in the news of late and another one is making waves this Tuesday. Pierre Gasly, a rising 18-year-old French driver, will step up to GP2 with Caterham starting this weekend at Monza. He steps up from the World Series by Renault, the usual home for Red Bull Juniors.

Per NBCSN’s F1 insider and pit reporter Will Buxton, Gasly is the first Red Bull Junior driver to race in GP2 since Sebastien Buemi in 2008.

Gasly replaces Tom Dillmann, who had filled in for Alexander Rossi following Rossi’s departure from the Caterham GP2 squad earlier this year. Rio Haryanto continues in the team’s second car, as he has all season.

“Of course I am really excited to be driving in GP2 with Caterham Racing. It is a new Series for me and a great opportunity to race and gain experience in a different car and on Formula One circuits,” Gasly said in a team release.

“For sure the GP2 car is going to be different to drive, it has more power than the Formula Renault 3.5 but has less aero.  I will have to adapt my driving style, but that is my job and I will try to do this as quickly as I can.”

The Caterham GP2 squad is not under the same ownership and direction as the Caterham F1 Team, which has gone through an ownership change this year.

And on that front, the identity of the second Caterham driver for Monza this weekend remains in flux. Andre Lotterer could return after his Spa debut, Kamui Kobayashi seems less likely while youngsters Carlos Sainz Jr. and Roberto Merhi – the former of which is another Red Bull Junior – have also been linked to the seat provided they accrue enough mileage to secure their F1 Superlicense.

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.