2015 Italian Grand Prix Preview


Formula 1 rolls into Italy this weekend for the final European round of the season at the famed Autodromo Nazionale Monza on the outskirts of Milan.

The days of racing around the famous banking may be long gone, but Monza still remains one of the most fearsome and unique challenges on the F1 calendar thanks to its high-speed straights and challenge corners such as Parabolica and the two Lesmos.

In spite of its history, the future of the Italian Grand Prix has come into question over the past year. The sport’s pursuit of new markets has left many of its traditional homes playing catch up, leaving Monza in the lurch.

Nevertheless, a booming crowd will make the visit to the track this weekend, with the majority set to sport the scarlet red of Ferrari. At its home grand prix, the team’s loyal Tifosi fan club will create an atmosphere rivalled by few other races.

On-track, Lewis Hamilton will be chasing his third victory at Monza this weekend. Following his dominant display in the Belgian Grand Prix, the Briton remains the man to beat, now enjoying a 28-point lead at the top of the drivers’ championship with eight races to go.

Here is our full preview of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

2015 Italian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Hamilton looks to widen the gulf to Rosberg

How quickly things change in F1. With five laps to go in Hungary, Nico Rosberg was on the cusp of taking the lead of the drivers’ championship for the first time in 2015. Just 48 racing laps later though, he’s 28 points down on Hamilton at the top in what is becoming an increasingly ominous title fight.

Cast your mind back to last year. Monza was where Rosberg cracked not once, but twice, under pressure. It was the first of six wins in the final seven races of the year for Hamilton as he turned the screw in the title battle. This year, Rosberg has an even bigger mountain to climb. Another win for Hamilton on Sunday could make it game over.

Vettel arrives at Monza a Ferrari man for the first time

Seven years on from his shock maiden grand prix victory at Monza, Sebastian Vettel will arrive at the track this weekend as a Ferrari driver for the first time. Fernando Alonso may have been the standard-bearer in recent years, but now, all eyes will be on Vettel as Ferrari’s resurgence in 2015 continues.

It will be something of an emotional weekend for Vettel, who had always dreamed of racing for Ferrari. Alonso’s first Monza race for Ferrari ended in victory, setting the benchmark high for any predecessors. Vettel may struggle to beat the Mercedes drivers this weekend, but will certainly be keen to bounce back from his tire blowout at Spa in the best-possible fashion.

Attention on Pirelli and its tires

The fall-out from said tire blowout is only set to continue this weekend at Monza. In the aftermath of the race, Vettel launched into an irate tirade against Pirelli, whilst the tire supplier pointed the finger back at Ferrari, claiming its strategy was what caused the failure.

The FIA has issued a statement confirming that the wear on Vettel’s tires did make his tires more susceptible to cuts at Spa, and said that it was satisfied with Pirelli’s investigation. Nevertheless, the focus will be on the tires this weekend in case of a repeat.

Business as usual for Lotus

The financial mire that is currently engulfing Lotus has been well documented in recent weeks, and although a rescue package from Renault does appear to be on its way, until a deal is struck, uncertainty will remain.

Romain Grosjean’s third place finish at Spa gave the team plenty to smile about, though. The Frenchman believes that the E23 Hybrid car will be better-suited to Monza than it was to Spa, suggesting that another good result could be on the cards. Even at this dark time, the Enstone spirit is continuing to shine through.

Grid penalties galore, again

In a flurry of déjà vu, we look set to have another weekend beset by grid penalties. Toro Rosso has already confirmed that Carlos Sainz Jr. will have to take a grip drop due to a change on his power unit, whilst Red Bull and – of course – McLaren are also likely to follow suit.

This should open up a few opportunities for the drivers in the midfield like it did at Spa. With the likes of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat dropping further back, keep an eye out for Grosjean, Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and the Williams duo to pick up the pieces and score some good points.

2015 Italian Grand Prix – Facts and Figures

Track: Autodromo Nazionale Monza
Laps: 53
Corners: 11
Lap Record: Rubens Barrichello 1:21.046 (Ferrari, 2004)
Tire Compounds: Soft (Option); Medium (Prime)
2014 Winner: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2014 Pole Position: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:24.109
2014 Fastest Lap: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:28.004
DRS Zone: Main Straight (T11 to T1); T7 to T8

2015 Italian Grand Prix – TV Times

Free Practice 1: NBC Sports Live Extra 4am ET 9/4
Free Practice 2: NBCSN 8am ET 9/4
Free Practice 3: NBC Sports Live Extra 5am ET 9/5
Qualifying: NBCSN 8am ET 9/5
Race: NBCSN 7:30am ET 9/6

Eli Tomac wins Houston Supercross: Hunter Lawrence takes early 250 East lead


With his 47th career victory and third of the 2023 season in Houston, Eli Tomac closed to within one win of tying Ricky Carmichael for third on the all-time Monster Energy Supercross list.

Tomac rebounded from last week’s crash by earning the holeshot in both his heat and the Main. At the start of the big show, he couldn’t shake Aaron Plessinger in the first four minutes and actually was in the process of losing the lead as a red flag waved for a crash involving Tomac’s teammate Dylan Ferrandis when he overjumped an obstacle and landed on Ken Roczen’s back fender as they raced for eighth.

“That was a tough race,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien, referencing his loss to Chase Sexton in the heat. “And honestly, I was just beat down after that heat race and was searching quite a bit and was basically losing speed everywhere. I just rode better, straight up in the Main. I felt better.”

In their heat, Sexton passed Tomac at the two-minute mark and then simply rode away from the field. At the end, he had an almost eight-second gap on Tomac.

“It wasn’t great by any means,” Sexton told Jason Thomas. “I feel like the strengths I had all day, I really lagged in the Main event between the whoop and the sand section. I think I could have walked through it faster. It was still a good ride; it wasn’t great. I expected after the heat race he would be fired up.”

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Jason Anderson scored his second consecutive pole, but he was not happy to finish third behind the two points’ leaders.

“We should be thankful every time we get to be up here,” Anderson said. “They’re making it tough on me, but all I can do is give my best.”

Tomac had to withstand a red flag and the distant second place finish in his heat to win the Houston Supercross race. In the post-race conference, he indicated that he did not make any changes to the bike and simply rode better.

Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb rounded out the top five.

Ferrandis was fitted with a neck brace, but still able to walk to the medical cart. He was still being evaluated by the medical staff as the night came to a close.

In 250s Hunter Lawrence entered the 250 East opener as the consensus favorite to win the championship this year with Christian Craig making the move into 450s and his brother Jett Lawrence in the West division. He answered quickly with a huge lead in Heat 1, but it almost went awry in the Main.

Lawrence got a good start, but he was passed early in the race by two-time MXGP champion (2020, 2022) Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut this week. Vialle passed Lawrence on the first lap. When Lawrence tried to pass him back, Vialle scrubbed speed off a jump and pushed Lawrence wide, over the Tuff Blox.

Championships are made out of Lawrence’s response. He kept his composure and did not overcorrect before methodically working his way to the front.

“We had a little off track excursion. I wasn’t sure how hard across Tom was coming so I thought I’ll just go left, but then saw that was the side of the track. Thankfully I didn’t hit the Tuff Blox and got back on track safely. … Good start; put myself in position.”

Click here for full 250 East Main Results

Making a move from the 450 class to 250s, Max Anstie had immediate success. He finished second in his heat behind Jordon Smith and lined up with a great gate pick. He had to overtake Vialle in the opening laps and lost ground on Lawrence, that cost enough time to keep him from pressing Lawrence. This is Anstie’s first podium in the United States

“Honestly, I’ve dreamed of this for a long time to come up on these steps and man it’s a great feeling. I’ve really enjoyed the day and being on this 250, I feel like an 18-year-old kid. Everyday I’m learning.”

Smith backed up his heat win with a podium finish.

“It feels good to be back up here again,” Smith said. “It’s been a long time; a lot of injuries.”

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his debut in the 250 class was not unfounded. He finished fourth in his heat to advance to directly into the Main. During the early laps, he was circling the track in a podium position until a minor mistake sent him off the box. In the closing laps, he narrowly made an aggressive pass on Jeremy Martin and narrowly missed the podium with a fourth-place finish.

Martin held on to round out the top five.

Vialle was running in a podium position when went down with a 1:30 left on the clock. He ended his night seventh.

Chance Hymas was also making his 250 debut and scored a top-10 in eighth.

2023 Race Recaps

Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Houston coverage

Houston by the numbers
Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list