MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Chinese GP


If F1 was sick and in need of a doctor in Australia, then it must have taken some amazing medicine to get back on its feet for what proved to be a thrilling Malaysian Grand Prix last time out.

Sebastian Vettel’s shock victory for Ferrari rocked the Formula 1 paddock, which had resigned itself to another year of unchallenged Mercedes dominance as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg shared the wins among themselves.

Instead, we now have a fascinating dynamic to take into the rest of the season. Ferrari’s pace could well prove to be nothing more than a ‘flash in the pan’ – a circumstantial victory – but in reality, it appears that Vettel is well-placed to keep the Silver Arrows checking their mirrors in 2015.

So for this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, MotorSportsTalk’s Luke Smith and Tony DiZinno have some tough calls to make in their predictions. Will Mercedes resume normal service, or can Ferrari pull the same trick for the second race in a row?

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. Mercedes may have suffered a heavy defeat in Malaysia, but you can expect normal service to resume here. The cool conditions in China should work in the favor of the Silver Arrows, but it will be interesting to see whether Mercedes’ tire woes crop up again this weekend.

Surprising FinishRomain Grosjean. Grosjean’s luck so far this season has been rotten (to put it mildly), but the baseline pace of the Lotus E23 Hybrid is very good indeed. You can expect the Frenchman to finish inside the top ten if he can have a trouble-free race weekend in China.

Most to ProveNico Rosberg. Is this the same Nico Rosberg that challenged Lewis Hamilton for the title in 2014? It doesn’t look like it. The German driver has done very little of note on track, and hasn’t given his illustrious teammate a great deal to worry about. He must hit back this weekend, or risk going 3-0 down in the intra-team battle.

Additional Storyline to WatchRed Bull versus Toro Rosso. Being beaten by your supposed B-team is pretty embarrassing. Red Bull looks to be in disarray at the moment, but usually runs well in China. All eyes will be on Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat this weekend to see if they can get back on their feet, but don’t hold your breath.

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. I don’t think Mercedes will screw up the strategy twice in a row. Hamilton has three prior wins at China and he’ll be poised to get back on form this weekend.

Surprising FinishRomain Grosjean. This should be a good circuit for the Mercedes-powered Lotus, and I could see Grosjean breaking through for his first points score of the year. An eighth or ninth seems realistic, perhaps seventh if all the stars align.

Most to ProveForce India. Compared to the other Mercedes-powered teams, Force India is a bit on the back foot. At present, the team’s goal of points seems optimistic, and both Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez have yet to star this season.

Additional Storyline to WatchFerrari’s intra-team battle. Sebastian Vettel’s win stole the headlines in Malaysia, but Kimi Raikkonen’s run to fourth was just as impressive. Is this the weekend where Kimi gets ahead of Seb? Both are past race winners and on current form, should be in contention for podium positions.

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes


For full broadcasting details of the Chinese Grand Prix, click here.

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.