2015 Chinese Grand Prix Preview

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Following Sebastian Vettel’s surprise victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix two weeks ago, the Formula 1 paddock now moves on to China in the knowledge that, contrary to popular opinion, Mercedes can be beaten in 2015.

It was at the Chinese Grand Prix back in 2012 that Nico Rosberg claimed the German marque’s first victory in F1 since returning to the sport in 2010. A repeat result for last year’s championship runner-up is essential, given that he has legitimately beaten teammate Lewis Hamilton just once since last year’s German Grand Prix in July.

With Vettel and Ferrari biting at the heels of the Silver Arrows, Mercedes heads to China knowing that it cannot rest on its laurels. The defeat in Malaysia came as a shock, but another this weekend at a race that should play to the strengths of the W06 Hybrid could raise serious questions about which team rules the F1 roost.

Naturally, the fight between Mercedes and Ferrari is just one of many storylines that are set to play out in China this weekend. Here’s our full preview of the 2015 Chinese Grand Prix.

2015 Chinese Grand Prix – Talking Points

Mercedes looks to resume usual service

Mercedes’ defeat in Malaysia was arguably the most surprising result in F1 since Pastor Maldonado’s victory for Williams at the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix. Few thought the Silver Arrows could be beaten without some kind of divine intervention, yet Vettel and Ferrari managed to do exactly that. In China, the focus for Mercedes will be on resuming normal service and getting back on the top step of the podium. Although the cooler conditions should suit the W06 Hybrid better, if its tire management problems are as bad everywhere as they were in Malaysia, then another upset could be on the cards.

Ferrari and Vettel remain realistic

Despite soundly beating Mercedes last time out, both Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari are remaining realistic about their chances for the rest of the season. The four-time world champion has undoubtedly settled in at Maranello very quickly, and he will be hoping to pick up a third podium finish in as many races on Sunday. However, spare a thought for his teammate, Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn could have made it a Ferrari one-two in Malaysia had it not been for a first lap incident, and appears to have re-found his mojo following a disastrous 2014. P3 and P4 may be the best Ferrari can hope for in China, but those positions should be there for the taking.

Have the tables turned between Toro Rosso and Red Bull?

Toro Rosso has always existed in F1 for one reason: to nurture future Red Bull drivers. Back in 2008, when Sebastian Vettel’s escapades saw Toro Rosso beat Red Bull (the supposed ‘A’ team) in the constructors’ championship, the entire Red Bull F1 programme was called into question. Vettel was soon promoted and the rest, as they say, is history. However, in a flurry of déjà vu, Toro Rosso is showing signs of a repeat in 2015. Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. may be rookies, but both showed maturity and racecraft that exceeds their years in Malaysia, soundly beating Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat of Red Bull. Another win for the ‘B’ team in China would only turn up the heat on a Red Bull team that seems to be in disarray.

McLaren targets its first points of 2015

It’s very rare for a team as prestigious as McLaren to be satisfied with a double retirement, but the mileage racked up by both cars in Malaysia was of great value to the British outfit. Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso do not want to be battling outside of the top ten for long, and China could be where they buck that trend. The Honda engine is getting better with every lap completed, meaning that the team should head to Shanghai with its tail up. It will take time for everything to come together at Woking. Once it does though, expect Alonso and Button to prove just why they are world champions.

Palmer looks to impress with his practice outing

On Friday, 2014 GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer will get his first outing on a grand prix weekend when he takes part in FP1 for Lotus. The Briton signed for the team as its third and reserve driver for this season, and will be looking to convert his good pace in junior categories into a positive display in the practice session. It may not be much, but it is still a positive step for Palmer, who will become the first GP2 champion since Romain Grosjean (winner in 2011) to run at an F1 weekend.

Chinese Grand Prix – Facts and Figures

Track: Shanghai International Circuit
Laps: 56
Corners: 16
Lap Record: Michael Schumacher 1:32.239 (2004)
Tire Compounds: Soft (Option); Medium (Prime)
2014 Winner: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2014 Pole Position: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:53.860
2014 Fastest Lap: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:40.402
DRS Zones: Main Straight (T16 to T1); T13 to T14

Chinese Grand Prix – TV Times

Free Practice 1: NBC Sports Live Extra 10p ET 4/9
Free Practice 2: NBCSN 2a ET 4/10
Free Practice 3: NBC Sports Live Extra 12a ET 4/11
Qualifying: NBCSN 3a ET 4/11
Race: NBCSN 1:30a ET 4/12

For more information about our broadcasts this weekend, click here.

Adam Cianciarulo sweeps to second straight Pro Motocross 450 win

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Adam Cianciarulo (450) and Dylan Ferrandis (250) swept both motos of their divisions Saturday in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship event at Spring Creek MX Park in Millville, Minnesota, significantly impacting the points standings.

After scoring his first career victory Sept. 8 at RedBud, Cianciarulo made it two consecutive victories on his Monster Energy Kawasaki. He won the first moto by 1.7 seconds over Blake Baggett and the second moto by 2.7 seconds over Baggett.

“Man, what a dream come true,” Cianciarulo said. “I really wanted to go 1-1 last round at RedBud and had that silly mistake. Today, we got the job done and made it happen. Two consecutive victories in the 450 Class just feels really good. I just want to keep the ball rolling.”

With three rounds remaining, Cianciarulo is ranked second in the standings at a 15-point deficit to Zach Osborne, who won three of the first five rounds.

In the 250 standings, Dylan Ferrandis jumped ahead of Jeremy Martin (who won three consecutive events earlier in the season) by three points (257-254).

Dylan Ferrandis swept both motos for his second win of the season in the 250 class (Align Media).

Ferrandis beat third-ranked RJ Hampshire in the first moto and nipping Martin by 0.4 seconds in the second.

“That was a difficult race in the second moto and the pressure was on,” Ferrandis said. “It was really good for me to have that battle and come out on top in the second moto. The championship is really close and I think that we were able to put on a good show for everyone today. Jeremy [Martin] and I have a good relationship I think and we congratulated each other and talked about the battle after the race.”

NEXT: The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will hold its seventh round Sept. 26 with the Geico Motorcycle WW Ranch National at Jacksonville, Florida.


RESULTS

Thor Spring Creek National (Spring Creek MX Park, Millville, Minnesota)

450 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)

  1. Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki (1-1)
  2. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM (2-2)
  3. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Yamaha (5-4)
  4. Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (8-3)
  5. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (6-5)
  6. Marvin Musquin, France, KTM (3-10)
  7. Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Honda (7-6)
  8. Joey Savatgy, , Suzuki (9-7)
  9. Max Anstie, United Kingdom, Suzuki (10-8)
  10. Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna (4-16)

450 Class Championship Standings

  1. Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna – 235
  2. Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki – 220
  3. Marvin Musquin, France, KTM – 215
  4. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki – 196
  5. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Yamaha – 194
  6. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM – 190
  7. Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 173
  8. Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Honda – 141
  9. Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Yamaha – 134
  10. Joey Savatgy, Tallahassee, Fla., Suzuki – 122

250 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)

  1. Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha (1-1)
  2. Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda (5-2)
  3. Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Suzuki (4-4)
  4. Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda (3-6)
  5. Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha (9-3)
  6. RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna (2-11)
  7. Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda (7-5)
  8. Jo Shimoda, Japan, Honda (12-8)
  9. Mitchell Harrison, Brighton, Mich., Kawasaki (11-9)
  10. Derek Drake, San Luis Obispo, Calif., KTM (8-12)

250 Class Championship Standings

  1. Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha – 257
  2. Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda – 254
  3. RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna – 202
  4. Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Suzuki – 194
  5. Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., Yamaha – 186
  6. Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha – 164
  7. Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 162
  8. Cameron McAdoo, Sioux City, Iowa, Kawasaki – 140
  9. Mitchell Harrison, Brighton, Mich., Kawasaki – 123
  10. Brandon Hartranft, Brick, N.J., KTM – 114
Adam Cianciarulo won the holeshot in both motos at Spring Creek (Align Media).