MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Australian GP

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With the 2015 Formula 1 season kicking off this Sunday in Melbourne, Australia, the time has come for MotorSportsTalk to revive our picks for each round of the 2015 season.

Last year, each MST writer was asked to pick a race winner, a surprise finish and who had the most to prove heading into the grand prix weekend.

This time around, we’re going to shake things up a bit, with Tony DiZinno and myself now also trying to predict the podium and pick one of main storylines that will come out of the race weekend.

With this being the first race of the year, our predictions are largely based on educated guesses and estimates from pre-season testing in Spain. Nevertheless, take a look at what we’ve predicted, and be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. It’s a pick between the two Mercedes drivers, such is the pace of the W06 Hybrid. Assuming that all is equal in the way of reliability, Hamilton should have the edge at one of his favorite circuits.

Surprising FinishRomain Grosjean. 2015 marks a new dawn for Lotus, with Mercedes now powering the British team. Grosjean should be able to make up for his miserable 2014 season this year, and what better way to start than with a good haul of points in Melbourne?

Most to ProveToro Rosso. The youngest driver line-up in the history of F1 is certainly exciting, but both Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. have plenty to prove on their debuts. If either can score points, it would be a big statement to the naysayers up and down the paddock.

Additional Storyline to Watch: Honda’s return. Just how will the Honda engine hold up in its first grand prix? McLaren will be sweating on the progress that has been made since winter testing finished, and a top-ten finish would surely be an enormous achievement for the British team.

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Valtteri Bottas Williams

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. The defending World Champion kicks off his title defense by bagging a win at a race that got away from him early last year due to unreliability.

Surprising FinishMax Verstappen. I’m going to say the 17-year-old lives up to the initial hype and produces one of the more “wow!” worthy debuts in years. Magnussen’s podium last year, Hamilton’s 2007 podium, Webber’s 2002 fifth place for Minardi, Villeneuve’s 1996 pole also come to mind as others. The Toro Rosso team banged out a ton of laps in testing and I’ll go bold, saying Verstappen makes it to Q3 on debut and then scores points. Seventh or eighth seems possible for this car.

Most to ProveMcLaren-Honda. After a troubled preseason, here’s hoping the two iconic brands can at least make it to the finish and sort out the reliability issues. Rare to say a finish would be a good result, but it would be… and points would be a bonus

Additional Storyline to WatchBattle for third. If reliability doesn’t strike, Mercedes’ preseason pace has left them as clear 1-2 favorites. So who comes third? Red Bull, Ferrari and Williams all could stake reasonable claims to it, each with three different power units.

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull


Join us on NBCSN and Live Extra this weekend for comprehensive coverage of the Australian Grand Prix and the start of the new F1 season. Click here for full TV times and information.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.