MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Japanese Grand Prix


The MST predictions have been rather, uh, predictable in 2015. One reader comment for last week’s set of picks in Singapore asked for myself and Tony to expand our top three to a top five so as to introduce a bit of difference and spice things up.

And then Singapore happened.

Sebastian Vettel stormed to his third victory of the season, harking back to his Red Bull heyday of 2013 by going lights-to-flag at Marina Bay and controlling proceedings from start to finish. He was followed across the line by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen, shocking the watching Formula 1 world as the top Mercedes came home in fourth place.

All weekend long, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton struggled for pace. Rosberg’s fourth-place finish probably flattered Mercedes’ ability, whilst Hamilton’s retirement gave his title rivals some much-needed respite.

As such, the MST predictions this weekend have been made very interesting indeed. Let us know your picks in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. Okay so maybe this is a bit predictable… but I’m of the belief that Mercedes’ struggles in Singapore were circumstantial. They were not the sign of a change in the pecking order in the long-term. The German marque remains the front-runner, and Hamilton is still the man to beat. I’m tipping him for a second Suzuka win on Sunday.

Surprising FinishRomain Grosjean. In the face of adversity, Grosjean has continued to fly the Lotus flag proudly in 2015. This track should suit the E23 Hybrid quite well, so expect Grosjean to return to the points on Sunday.

Most to ProveFerrari. Arguably, Ferrari has to prove that it has made the big step towards Mercedes that has been talked up over the past week or so.

Additional Storyline to WatchForza Jules. F1 will race with a heavy heart this weekend as the drivers return to Suzuka one year on from Jules Bianchi’s accident. The Frenchman was honored in Hungary after his death in July, and another great race would be a fitting tribute.

Predict the Podium

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

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race WinnerSebastian Vettel. Well, Singapore certainly threw us a curveball. Cannot say I saw that one coming. The rationale now for picking Seb back-to-back for the first time this year and thus, for the first time in his Ferrari career – if Mercedes is as off as it was at Singapore, a fix to course correct does not happen overnight. The series heads to Japan without a chance to make any upgrades, and the track’s a bit different, faster and more flowing compared to Singapore. Mercs should get back on the podium but here’s to hoping Vettel and Ferrari’s form isn’t a one-off.

Surprising FinishNico Hulkenberg. Although Sergio Perez has been the big points scorer of late Force India, I like Hulkenberg’s chances more so this weekend. This is a track he’s finished seventh, sixth and eighth in the last three years – twice with Force India – and a fifth or sixth place should be possible with this car this weekend.

Most to ProveMcLaren-Honda. All eyes will be fixated on the de facto home team, as Honda returns to its home track and its home country seeking not to fall flat on its face. It’s expected – likely by this time of posting – that Jenson Button will call time on his F1 career at year’s end, and it becomes officially his last Japanese Grand Prix. Simply a point would be a good result, sad to say.

Additional Storyline to WatchManor’s return to Suzuka. As it was in Monaco, the emotions down at the back of the grid will be more a story than elsewhere. Manor returns to the site where Jules Bianchi had his ultimately fatal accident. The team has carried itself well despite the tragedy and is actually on a decent run of form following its double finish in Singapore, with F1 debutante Alexander Rossi leading the way in 14th. Another double finish – one punching above the car’s weight – would serve as a perfect tribute to their fallen teammate.

Predict the Podium

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

Winner Josef Newgarden earns $3.666 million from a record Indy 500 purse of $17 million


INDIANAPOLIS — The first Indy 500 victory for Josef Newgarden also was the richest in race history from a record 2023 purse of just more than $17 million.

The two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion, who continued his celebration Monday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earned $3.666 million for winning the 107th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

The purse and winner’s share both are the largest in the history of the Indianapolis 500.

It’s the second consecutive year that the Indy 500 purse set a record after the 2022 Indy 500 became the first to crack the $16 million mark (nearly doubling the 2021 purse that offered a purse of $8,854,565 after a crowd limited to 135,000 because of the COVID-19 pandemic).

The average payout for IndyCar drivers was $500,600 (exceeding last year’s average of $485,000).

Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske, whose team also fields Newgarden’s No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet, had made raising purses a priority since buying the track in 2020. But Penske but was unable to post big money purses until the race returned to full capacity grandstands last year.

The largest Indy 500 purse before this year was $14.4 million for the 2008 Indy 500 won by Scott Dixon (whose share was $2,988,065). Ericsson’s haul made him the second Indy 500 winner to top $3 million (2009 winner Helio Castroneves won $3,048,005.

Runner-up Marcus Ericsson won $1.043 million after falling short by 0.0974 seconds in the fourth-closest finish in Indy 500 history.

The 107th Indy 500 drew a crowd of at least 330,000 that was the largest since the sellout for the 100th running in 2016, and the second-largest in more than two decades, according to track officials.

“This is the greatest race in the world, and it was an especially monumental Month of May featuring packed grandstands and intense on-track action,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “Now, we have the best end card possible for the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500: a record-breaking purse for the history books.”

Benjamin Pedersen was named the Indy 500 rookie of the year, earning a $50,000 bonus.

The race’s purse is determined through contingency and special awards from IMS and IndyCar. The awards were presented Monday night in the annual Indy 500 Victory Celebration at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.

The payouts for the 107th Indy 500:

1. Josef Newgarden, $3,666,000
2. Marcus Ericsson, $1,043,000
3. Santino Ferrucci, $481,800
4. Alex Palou, $801,500
5. Alexander Rossi, $574,000
6. Scott Dixon, $582,000
7. Takuma Sato, $217,300
8. Conor Daly, $512,000
9. Colton Herta, $506,500
10. Rinus VeeKay, $556,500
11. Ryan Hunter‐Reay, $145,500
12. Callum Ilott, $495,500
13. Devlin DeFrancesco, $482,000
14. Scott McLaughlin, $485,000
15. Helio Castroneves, $481,500
16. Tony Kanaan, $105,000
17. Marco Andretti, $102,000
18. Jack Harvey, $472,000
19. Christian Lundgaard, $467,500
20. Ed Carpenter, $102,000
21. Benjamin Pedersen (R), $215,300
22. Graham Rahal, $565,500*
23. Will Power, $488,000
24. Pato O’Ward, $516,500
25. Simon Pagenaud, $465,500
26. Agustín Canapino (R), $156,300
27. Felix Rosenqvist, $278,300
28. Kyle Kirkwood, $465,500
29. David Malukas, $462,000
30. Romain Grosjean, $462,000
31. Sting Ray Robb (R), $463,000
32. RC Enerson (R), $103,000
33.  Katherine Legge, $102,000

*–Broken down between two teams, $460,000 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, $105,500 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports