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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.

Andretti Autosport endures tough Road America outing

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All four of the Andretti Autosport drivers encountered significant problems during the Kohler Grand Prix, and none of them were able to salvage finishes inside the top ten as a result.

Most notably, Takuma Sato endured the most difficult weekend of the four-car armada after suffering a pinched nerve in his neck on Saturday, which forced him to miss the morning warmup.

And things didn’t get any better during the race, as a lap 28 spin exiting the Kink saw him lose a lap and forced him to play catchup even more than he already was. Although Sato managed to finish the race, hardly insignificant given his neck injury, he did so in 19th after starting 20th in what proved to be his worst race since winning the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

“It was a tough weekend and tough race,” lamented Sato. “I injured my neck during practice Saturday morning. We started in the back row, tried to make a push up, but I caught an accident. The engine was stalled and I wasn’t sure if we could continue, but the safety crew came and fired up the engine, so I came back to the pit, buckled again and I was able to keep going. In the end we made the finish, but we need a better weekend.”

His teammates did not fair much better. Alexander Rossi, who qualified a disappointing 15th, ran a four-stop pit strategy, and while he cycled into the top five at one point, an issue with the front wing saw him fall to 13th at the finish.

Alexander Rossi was fast Road America, but an issue with the front wing dropped him back in the field at the end. Photo: IndyCar

“I think we started with a good strategy, going for a four-stop race after starting 15th, but it all caught up to us on that first yellow,” Rossi explained. “Luckily, we had already gained track position and speed running on open track. We had an issue with our front wing, which ironically or not, is the same issue we finished the race with here last year, so we definitely need to figure out exactly what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay, too, had strong pace, even leading the Sunday morning warmup and running inside the top ten late in the race. But, contact with Charlie Kimball while battling for sixth broke the front wing on the No. 28 DHL Honda, and Hunter-Reay languished in 14th at the checkered flag.

Ryan Hunter-Reay was was 14th at the checkered flag after battling inside the top ten late in the race. Photo: IndyCar

“Charlie (Kimball) made a late block and took off my front wing. I had a good race going until Charlie moved out late like that, it’s just really unfortunate,” Hunter-Reay said of the incident.

Meanwhile, Marco Andretti battled a litany of problems, ranging from throttle issues to a broken pit speed limiter, which resulted in a drive-penalty for speeding during a round of pit stops. Andretti was a lowly 18th at the finish.

Marco Andretti battled a host of problems during the Kohler Grand Prix. Photo: IndyCar

“We started eighth, but ran into throttle problems. We went off track on the first stint because the throttle stuck wide open. We came into the pits to try to fix it and got hit with a pit lane speed violation because my pit lane limiter wasn’t working. We still weren’t getting full throttle – I was barely hitting sixth gear,” he lamented afterward.

Sato remains in the top five in the championship, now sitting fourth, 56 points behind leader Scott Dixon. Rossi sits ninth, with Andretti and Hunter-Reay 13th and 15th respectively.

 

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Kimball, Chilton quiet but solid at Road America

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While Scott Dixon scored victory for Chip Ganassi Racing, two of the team’s other drivers enjoyed quietly solid days at the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America.

Charlie Kimball, in need of a strong finish after being stricken with bad luck so far in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, scored his best finish of the year with a fine run to sixth place. While he was never a part of the battle for victory, he was “best of the rest” for most of the day and enjoyed a solid, mistake-free run.

“Overall a really solid day for the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team,” Kimball said afterward. Though he admitted tire management in the race’s third stint hampered his efforts, he was more than pleased with the end result.

“That third stint, I don’t think I managed the Firestone alternates as well as some of the guys around me,” Kimball revealed. “You saw that with (Will Power) with a better in and out lap. That was disappointing, because I think we could have maybe had a shot at a top five. Overall though, to fight off some competitors for that last stint after the final yellow felt good and it felt good to bring it home in sixth for the guys. Kind of a semi-trouble free weekend and pretty happy with it.”

Teammate Max Chilton, too, scored a solid ten finish, the Briton finishing ninth. However, unlike Kimball, Chilton lamented not being able to finish higher on a circuit where he feels very comfortable.

Max Chilton during qualifying for the Kohler Grand Prix. Photo: IndyCar

“It’s not how we wanted it, especially after how quick we were (in the morning warmup),” said Chilton, who started seventh and was second fastest in the morning warmup. Like Kimball, he struggled with tire management, and an untimely caution when he was on the primary black tires put paid to his chances of a better finish.

“Something just wasn’t working for us. On a set of reds, we were struggling massively and then we went to the blacks, which would’ve been alright, but then the safety car came out and everyone else had longer life on the reds and I was struggling again.”

With the Kohler Grand Prix in the books, Chilton currently sits 11th in the championship, three points behind tenth-place Ed Jones, while Kimball remains 18th, 72 points outside the top ten.

Mahindra to give M4Electro Formula E car public debut at Goodwood

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Mahindra Racing will debut its new car for the fourth Formula E season, the M4Electro, at the famous Goodwood Festival of Speed later this week as part of a bid to beat the existing open-wheel electric record for the hillclimb.

As part of its preparations for season four of Formula E, set to start in Hong Kong at the beginning of December, Mahindra has already hit the track with the M4Electro in private testing.

Full-season drivers Felix Rosenqvist and Nick Heidfeld have both completed running in the car, while Indian actress Gul Panag has also taken part in a test.

Heidfeld will give the M4Electro its first public outing at Goodwood and look to become the first driver to hold two records at the hillclimb.

The German driver holds the overall hillclimb record of 41.6 seconds at Goodwood, set back in 1999 in a McLaren MP4/13 Formula 1 car.

“We’re excited to bring Nick and the M4Electro to Goodwood in a bid to set the fastest open-wheel electric record on the hillclimb,” Mahindra team boss Dilbagh Gill said.

“We are always looking to push the boundaries as a team and we couldn’t think of a better way to introduce the season four challenger to fans and automotive enthusiasts alike than at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.”

Qualcomm named title partner for New York Formula E race

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FIA Formula E has announced that technology company Qualcomm will be the title partner for the upcoming New York City ePrix as the all-electric series gears up to hit the United States in three weeks’ time.

New York City will play host to its first motorsport event in Red Hook on July 15-16, acting as the penultimate round of Formula E’s third season.

Qualcomm has been a key partner for Formula E since the series’ inception in 2014, and will now act as the New York race’s title partner after acquiring the naming rights, as announced on Monday. The event will be formally called the ‘Qualcomm New York City ePrix’.

“As one of our founding partners – and now for the first time a race title partner for one of the most anticipated races of the season – Qualcomm Technologies’ continued support and commitment to Formula E has been instrumental,” Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag said.

“We share many of the same values in the field of innovation and technology transfer, which we’ve already seen with unique wireless charging concepts.

“I’m looking forward to making history in New York by bringing Formula E to the Big Apple for the first time – it’s going to be an unmissable event.”

Derek Aberle, president of Qualcomm Incorporated, added: “Qualcomm inventions enable widespread innovation, just as motorsport fuels the evolution of the automotive industry.

“Formula E, including this Qualcomm ePrix race in New York City, is a great testbed for our automotive breakthroughs such as wireless electric vehicle charging.

“We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Formula E to promote the benefits of the latest vehicle technologies as cars become more connected, autonomous and electric.”