Marussia-Caterham battle set for grand finale

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The season-long battle between Marussia and Caterham is finely poised heading into the final race of the season with rain forecast that could see a race of attrition ensue to allow either team to finish well up the order.

Marussia currently occupy tenth place in the constructors’ championship by virtue of Jules Bianchi’s thirteenth-place finish at the Malaysian Grand Prix back in March. Although finishing P10 with zero points may not appear to matter much, there is a sizeable increase in prize money over eleventh place as well as the prestige of being the best of the ‘new’ teams on the grid.

With rain falling throughout today’s qualifying session for the Brazilian Grand Prix, both teams would have felt that there was a chance to get a jump on the field and make it through to Q2 as we saw at Spa earlier this year. Instead, the teams occupied their usual positions at the back of the grid, but Jules Bianchi feels that he could have qualified better than P21 after a mistake cost him time on his fastest lap.

“A very difficult qualifying today,” Bianchi said. “We had to do everything we could early on as we knew the rain was coming, but in the end the window of opportunity was really only one lap. For everything after that it was too wet to improve. Iโ€™d made a big mistake at the end of my one quick lap as well, so itโ€™s disappointing as I was so close to van der Garde. So now we just have to be positive for the race and do everything possible to achieve the right result for the team.”

For Caterham to finish ahead of Marussia, either Giedo van der Garde or Charles Pic must finish thirteenth or higher during the race on Sunday. For this to happen, a race with multiple retirements must ensue but a wet race could allow this to happen. Regardless, the season-long battle between these two teams is set to go down to the very last lap.

This mirrors the events of 2012 when Caterham’s Vitaly Petrov passed Pic (then with Marussia) in the final few laps of the season to claim tenth place in the constructors’.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).