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What to watch for: Canadian Grand Prix (NBC from 2pm ET; NBC Sports app from 1:30pm)

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And so, today’s Canadian Grand Prix presents a 180-degree curveball from the Monaco Grand Prix two weeks ago. Where Ferrari was dominant on the streets of Monte Carlo, Mercedes has struck back thus far through the preliminary sessions at the combo park/street circuit/road course that is the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

It presents a golden opportunity for Lewis Hamilton to strike back in the championship race on the heels of his 65th career pole position.

Meanwhile Sebastian Vettel will look for his second straight win this season from second on the grid, having been oh-so-close but not fully ahead of Hamilton this weekend.

You can watch the Canadian Grand Prix live on NBC from 2pm ET and the NBC Sports app from 1:30pm ET on Sunday. CLICK HERE to watch via live stream.

Here is what to watch for in today’s race.

2017 Canadian Grand Prix – What to watch for

Hamilton vs. Vettel battle resumes

Montreal presents a race akin to Barcelona where it figures to be a straight fight between the two championship protagonists. Hamilton emerged ahead in Spain after a thrilling bout with Vettel. Meanwhile Vettel’s victories were more dominant by nature, his Monte Carlo win coming after a pit stop exchange with his teammate.

This is going to be an interesting test for the two drivers – and their Mercedes and Ferrari cars – in a straight power fight. Passing’s not been the easiest with the wider 2017 cars and their new tires, but Montreal is a track known for it.

Can Vettel and/or Hamilton stay close enough to the other where they can force their way by on track if they need to? Or will it again come down to pit stops for what is likely to be a one-stop race?

Bottas the wild card of note

Valtteri Bottas has gone rather well at Canada the last couple years. When the Williams Mercedes wasn’t at its zenith the last two years – it was better in 2014 – he still managed podiums both last year and in 2015, third at each occasion.

From third on the grid, Bottas has an important task ahead of him: get ahead of Vettel to help Hamilton however he can. Or, if he plays a blinder off the line as he did in Russia, can he get even further ahead into Turn 1? It was Vettel who launched from third to the lead here last year.

Bottas’ start is going to be pivotal for how the race plays out, and with Mercedes having yet to score a 1-2 finish this season, Sunday presents a good opportunity for them to do so.

Massa vs. the Force Indias

Given a new lease on life, Felipe Massa has done a sterling job this season for Williams Martini Racing as the undisputed team leader. As he hasn’t had good support from rookie teammate Lance Stroll from a points scoring perspective, how many points he scores versus the pair of Force India drivers, who’ll be keen to get back in the top-10 after a double non-score in Monaco, will be interesting to witness.

For Stroll, banking his first points of the year may be the goal, but doing so from 17th on the grid is a tough task in his home Grand Prix. Finishing needs to be the first goal for the teenaged rookie.

Brake wear and power delivery to monitor

As this is a power circuit where horsepower is king, it’s favored the Mercedes runners thus far – it’s been good weekends for the factory AMG Petronas team, and additionally the Mercedes-powered Sahara Force India and Williams Martini Racing squads, Massa as noted doing a good job in particular.

Elsewhere the Renault-powered cars have struggled. It took a seemingly Herculean effort for Max Verstappen to get his TAG Heuer-badged Red Bull into fifth on the grid but neither he nor Daniel Ricciardo looks likely to get Red Bull onto the podium for a third straight race. Toro Rosso missed out of Q3 with its pair of unbadged Renault engines as well, and with Carlos Sainz Jr. having an engine issue on Friday, they’ve not had a clean weekend.

Romain Grosjean has rallied this weekend through various spins and at a track where brakes matter more than almost anywhere else, seeing him crack the points in his Haas-Ferrari would be something of a surprise given the brakes have seemingly affected him more than most.

Honda and McLaren? What else can be said. If Fernando Alonso can scrape a point out of Sunday’s race he’ll have done beyond the best that seems possible.

Canada occasionally throws up surprise results and reliability and/or brake wear may impact who finishes where.

2017 Canadian Grand Prix – Starting Grid

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
3. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes
4. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
5. Max Verstappen Red Bull
6. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
7. Felipe Massa Williams
8. Sergio Perez Force India
9. Esteban Ocon Force India
10. Nico Hulkenberg Renault
11. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
12. Fernando Alonso McLaren
13. Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso
14. Romain Grosjean Haas
15. Jolyon Palmer Renault
16. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren
17. Lance Stroll Williams
18. Kevin Magnussen Haas
19. Marcus Ericsson Sauber
20. Pascal Wehrlein Sauber

You can watch the Canadian Grand Prix live on NBC from 2pm ET and the NBC Sports app from 1:30pm ET on Sunday. CLICK HERE to watch via live stream.

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”