Button expecting difficult race from P4 in Russia

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Jenson Button has said that he is expecting a difficult race in Russia tomorrow despite qualifying in an excellent fourth place.

McLaren has endured a difficult season, currently ranking sixth in the constructors’ championship behind Force India. However, it looks set to move ahead of its rivals this weekend after Button and teammate Kevin Magnussen both qualified inside the top six in Sochi.

Magnussen will drop down to 11th by virtue of a grid penalty, but Button is hopeful of a good result from fourth after resolving the issues with the MP4-29 car that cropped up in FP3.

“We were strong on both options and primes yesterday, in both FP1 and FP2, but this morning in FP3 we went backwards, even though we weren’t running a lot of fuel,” Button explained. “With the setup we’d adopted, the car just wasn’t working for us, but, importantly, we kept our heads after that, worked through the issues, and came to qualifying with a much improved car.

“Tomorrow, I really don’t know what to expect. Our long runs have been pretty good, but it isn’t obvious how many pit stops most drivers will be making. If you lock up here, however, you’ll completely flat spot a tire, and, if you do that, a one-stopper will become untenable, so as I say it won’t be straightforward at all.”

The British driver is fighting for his seat at McLaren as Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso looks poised to rejoin the British team. Although he has more experience and success than Magnussen, at 34, he is approaching the final few years of his F1 career.

In Japan, Button produced a stellar drive to finish fifth, and a repeat result in Russia tomorrow could give McLaren plenty to consider over the next few weeks.

You can watch the Russian Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 6:30am ET tomorrow.

NBCSN will present ‘Race and Sports in America: Conversations’ Monday

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With motor racing reckoning with its own issues of diversity and equality, “Race and Sports in America: Conversations” will tackle the topics of social justice with several athletes. The show will air at 8 p.m. ET Monday, July 13 on NBCSN, Golf Channel, Olympic channel and on regional sports networks.

The roundtable discussions will be hosted by Damon Hack and feature Charles Barkley, Steph Curry, Jimmy Rollins and Ozzie Smith in one segment. The other segment will include Kyle Rudolph, Anthony Lynn, Troy Mullins and James Blake.

Race has been a major topic in motorsports this year.

NASCAR banned the Confederate flag at its race after lobbying by Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver in the premier Cup Series. In Formula One, six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton has joined Black Lives Matter marches in London and also formed a panel on diversity. The lone Black driver in F1 also led 14 of 20 drivers taking a knee before the season opener in Austria.