F1 2015 team preview: Mercedes

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Mercedes AMG Petronas

Drivers
No. 44 Lewis Hamilton
No. 6 Nico Rosberg

First Race: 1954 French Grand Prix
Grands Prix: 108
Pole Positions:
35
Fastest Laps:
25
Race Wins:
29
Constructors’ Championships:
1
2014 Championship Result:
1st (701 points)

Mercedes enters the 2015 season facing a race to repeat last year’s record-breaking campaign that comprised of 16 wins and 18 pole positions. The W05 Hybrid was the class of the field, taking to the new technical regulations seamlessly and leaving the rest of the grid trailing in its wake. The challenge in 2015 is to build upon this. Both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have admitted that they are wary of Ferrari and Williams’ pace, yet in winter testing, it appears that the Silver Arrows have lost none of their advantage.

This could turn out to be another season of devastating dominance from Mercedes. It may be an ominous forecast, but the stiffest challenge that Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will face for the title this year will be each other – and we all know how explosive that was last year.

LEWIS HAMILTON No. 44

Hamilton’s title victory last November was nothing short of sensational. After overcoming all of the pitfalls that were laid in front of him, he picked up 193 of a possible 200 points to finish the season. The Briton now has a chance to truly establish himself as one of F1’s all-time greats by securing a third world title, but Rosberg will be hungry to get his own back after losing out last season. Hamilton knows he is the quicker driver though, and in reality, the biggest rival that Lewis faces this year is Lewis himself. He needs to put the off-track dramas and fame to one side and let his racing do the talking. He is the favorite for 2015, though.

NICO ROSBERG No. 6

Seems hard to believe, but 2015 will already mark Rosberg’s 10th season in Formula 1. His ninth was his best yet, as he made the leap from race winner to title contender, but the measure of his 2015 season will be how well he can convert his qualifying performances into results on Sundays. He finally experienced the pressure cooker of a yearlong championship fight last year, and having lost one he now knows what he must improve upon in order to win the inter-team battle that will likely determine the World Champion.

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.
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On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)