WATCH LIVE: Chinese Grand Prix Race Day on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30am ET

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Lewis Hamilton may have been forced to settle for second place behind Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari in Malaysia two weeks ago, but the defending Formula 1 world champion proved on Saturday he is still the man to beat by claiming pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Despite failing to improve his time at the end of Q3, Hamilton’s lap was good enough for his fifth pole position at the Shanghai International Circuit. Nico Rosberg will start alongside his teammate on the front row of the grid as he bids to avoid a ninth defeat in the last ten races to the Briton.

With Vettel looming large behind the Silver Arrows in third place on the grid, the stage is set for a close fight at the front of the field in China on Sunday.

You can watch the Chinese Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30am ET on Sunday. CLICK HERE to watch via live stream.

Hamilton has continued his love affair with the race in China this weekend by topping every single session, always managing to find those extra few tenths to beat Rosberg. Even when he made a mistake in the final part of qualifying and failed to improve his time, the German driver could not get on top. His frustration was clear for all to hear in his post-session radio cry of: “Oh come on you guys!”

Ferrari should draw closer to Mercedes during the race, given how competitive its long-run pace in FP2 on Friday was, but a repeat of its win in Malaysia seems unlikely. Pirelli expects all drivers to two-stop, and although a one-stop race is possible, it would leave those brave enough to take a punt on it scrambling at the end of the race.

Just behind Ferrari, a great battle for P5 appears to be on the cards between Williams and Red Bull. Daniel Ricciardo told NBCSN that he was surprised by Williams’ qualifying pace, whilst Felipe Massa appeared more focused on the cars ahead. With the likes of Lotus, Toro Rosso and even Sauber circling just behind, any mistakes could be particularly costly in China.

The same is true for Hamilton and Rosberg. This may only be the prologue to their main saga in 2015, but the foundations for another spectacular title fight are already being laid.

You can watch the Chinese Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30am ET on Sunday. CLICK HERE to watch via live stream.

Kyle Busch interests McLaren for Indy 500, but team is leaning toward experience

McLaren Indy Kyle Busch
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With Arrow McLaren SP heavily weighing a fourth car for the Indy 500 next year, Kyle Busch is a candidate but not at the top of the IndyCar team’s list.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown addressed the possibility Wednesday morning during a video news conference with Gavin Ward, the team’s newly named racing director.

“I have not personally spoken with Kyle Busch, but you can read into that that someone else in our organization has,” Brown said. “We want to make sure if we run a fourth car, we’re in the mindset that we want someone that is experienced around the 500. It’s such an important race, and from a going for the championship point of view, we’ve got three drivers that we want to have finish as strong as possible, so if we ran a fourth car, we’d want to be additive, not only for the fourth car itself, but to the three cars and so bringing in someone who’s not done it before potentially doesn’t add that value from an experience point of view.”

Busch will race the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing next season in NASCAR under a new deal that will allow the two-time Cup Series champion to make his Indy 500 debut. Busch, who had a previous deal to run the Indy 500 nixed by Joe Gibbs Racing, openly courted Chevy IndyCar teams to contact him during his introductory news conference with RCR last month.

After Team Penske (which has given no indications of a fourth car at Indy alongside champion Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin), McLaren is the second-best Chevy organization, and it’s fielded an extra Indy 500 car the past two years for Juan Pablo Montoya. The Associated Press reported last month that McLaren was in “serious conversation” about running Busch at Indy with Menards sponsorship.

But with its restructured management, the team is in the midst of significant expansion for 2023. AMSP is adding a third full-time car for 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi to team with Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, and a massive new shop also is being built in the Indianapolis area.

“(It’s) not because of him but purely because of experience,” Brown said of Busch. “He’s an awesome talent and would be huge, huge news for the speedway. But yeah, I think everyone is under consideration if we decide to do it, but experience is right at the top of the list as far as what’s going to be the most important to us.”

And it seems likely there will be a veteran joining Rossi, O’Ward and Rosenqvist at the Brickyard.

“A fourth car at the 500 is very much under consideration,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t even want to get ahead of ourselves, but we wouldn’t be ruling out a fourth car in the future on a full-time basis. That definitely wouldn’t be for ’23. But as we expand the team and get into larger facilities and things of that nature, it’s something that Gavin and I have spoken about.

“I think we would be in a position to run a fourth car at the 500 this upcoming year. If we do decide to do that, we’ll make that decision soon for maximum preparation, and I would say we’re open minded to a fourth car in ’24 and beyond and probably will make that decision middle of next year in time to be prepared if we did decide to do that.”

Brown also addressed the future of Alex Palou, who will be racing for Chip Ganassi Racing next season after also signing a deal with McLaren. Though Brown declined to get into specifics about whether Palou had signed a new deal, he confirmed Palou will continue to test “our Formula One car from time to time.

“Everyone has reached an amicable solution,” Brown said. “We’ve now had Alex in our Formula One car as we have Pato. That will continue in the future, which we’re quite excited about. At this point we’re laser-focused on 2023 and glad to have the noise behind us and now just want to put our head down and get on with the job with the three drivers we have.”