2015 Russian Grand Prix Preview

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Two weeks on from Lewis Hamilton’s crushing victory in Japan, the Formula 1 paddock arrives in the former Olympic city of Sochi for the Russian Grand Prix.

Despite holding two non-championship grands prix in the years preceding the First World War, Russia only welcomed F1 back in 2014, marking the accomplishment of a long-term goal for the sport’s CEO, Bernie Ecclestone, who had long-craved a race in eastern Europe.

As Sochi works to build a legacy following the Winter Olympics in the spring of 2014, the Russian Grand Prix is a focal point, with the Sochi Autodrom incorporating many of the games’ biggest venues and landmarks.

Last year’s race did leave a great deal to be desired as Hamilton eased to victory, but the sport returns this weekend anticipating an even bigger and better event as the end of the season draws near.

2015 Russian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Lewis seeks the knock-out blow

Lewis Hamilton arrives in Russia with a 48-point lead over Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in the drivers’ championship, making it more a case of ‘when’, not ‘if’ he clinches a third world title. Should the Briton win again this weekend and see his teammate retire, victory in Austin at the end of the month would see him crowned with three races to spare.

Even if Rosberg does finish the race, a ninth win of the season for Hamilton would see his lead surpass two victories, increasing his chances of an early wrap-up. Rosberg will be eager to make up for his mistake at the second corner in 2014 that forced him into a fightback drive and ended his hopes of beating Hamilton, but time is running out for the ailing German.

This weekend should also see Mercedes wrap up its second straight constructors’ championship – but that has been very much a case of ‘when’ since the beginning of the season.

Can Ferrari spring another Singapore surprise?

Sebastian Vettel’s victory for Ferrari in Singapore last month was arguably the first time since the end of 2013 that Mercedes had been beaten purely on pace. The German marque’s troubles were attributed to the tire allocation that weekend, so with the same choice from Pirelli arriving in Sochi – super-soft and soft – Ferrari may fancy its chances.

For Vettel, there is still quite a bit to play for. He may stand next to no chance of beating Hamilton to the title, but beating Rosberg into second place is still very realistic. It would be a major scalp for the German, and victory in Russia would only increase his chances of claiming it.

Red Bull’s engine saga continues

Following the decision to split with Renault at the end of the season, Red Bull has been left scrambling to find a new engine supplier for 2016, but the suggestions at Suzuka were that an announcement would be made by the time we arrived in Russia.

Alas, no announcement has been made. Team advisor Helmut Marko has had his two cents worth over the matter, accusing Ferrari – the only possible supplier for 2016 – of “playing games” in an interview with the German press. The saga is only set to rumble on this weekend, one would imagine.

That said, it will be an important weekend for Daniil Kvyat. The young Russian has made a great impression on F1 in 2015, and he will be keen to convert this into a good result on home soil on Sunday, particularly given his struggles last year.

No going hungry for Lotus this time around

Since the last race in Japan, Lotus has finally agreed a provisional deal with Renault regarding its takeover at the end of the season, saving the team from administration and hundreds of jobs at Enstone.

As a result, the entire Lotus operation will arrive in Sochi with a spring in its step, knowing that the future looks far, far brighter than it did two weeks ago when it could not even open its hospitality unit, relying on the goodness of the rest of the paddock to ensure that the team members were fed.

Romain Grosjean will undoubtedly be garnering a great deal of attention following his decision to leave for Haas at the end of the season, but the identity of his replacement remains a mystery. Perhaps we will see some more pieces of the 2016 driver market puzzle come into place this weekend.

Merhi returns at Manor as Rossi switches to GP2

Following two highly impressive outings for Manor in Singapore and Japan, American driver Alexander Rossi returns to GP2 this weekend as he continues his bid to become vice-champion at the end of the season.

Roberto Merhi will return to his seat with the team as a result, and the Spaniard will be hoping to further his case for a place on next year’s grid with an impressive display. Merhi recently said he was in talks with two teams about a seat in 2016, and with this being his final opportunity to impress before Abu Dhabi, time is running out to convince the watching paddock.

2015 Russian Grand Prix – Facts and Figures

Track: Sochi Autodrom
Laps: 53
Corners: 19
Lap Record: Valtteri Bottas 1:40.896 (Williams, 2014)
Tire Compounds: Super-soft (Option); Soft (Prime)
2014 Winner: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2014 Pole Position: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:38.513
2014 Fastest Lap: Valtteri Bottas (Williams) 1:40.896
DRS Zone: T1 to T2; T10 to T13

2015 Russian Grand Prix – TV Times

Free Practice 1: NBC Sports Live Extra 3am ET 10/9
Free Practice 2: NBCSN 7am ET 10/9
Free Practice 3: NBC Sports Live Extra 5am ET 10/10
Qualifying: NBCSN 8am ET 10/10
Race: NBCSN 6:30am ET 9/11

Indy 500 on NBC: How to watch, start times, live stream, schedule for race’s 107th running


Capping off one of the fastest months in memory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, here are the start times and information for the 107th Indy 500 on Sunday, May 28.

The world’s biggest race will be broadcast live on NBC and Peacock starting at 11 a.m. ET (green flag is 12:45 p.m. ET). A prerace show will be shown exclusively on Peacock starting at 9 a.m. ET.

Track owner Roger Penske and staff are expecting more than 300,00 on race day. The 233,000-seat grandstands will be near capacity with the largest crowd since the race’s 100th running sold out in 2016.

INDY 500 PRIMERImportant details and facts for watching on NBC Sports

STARTING LINEUPWhere the 33 drivers will take the green flag

After the starting lineup is set Sunday, May 21, cars will be on track twice more — a two-hour practice on Monday, May 22 and the Carb Day final practice from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Friday, May 26.

Carb Day final practice is Friday, May 27 at 11 a.m.-1 p.m. ET on Peacock Premium. The annual Pit Stop Competition will follow at 2:30-4 p.m. and also on Peacock Premium.

Peacock also will carry the AES Indiana 500 Festival Parade from noon-2 p.m. ET Saturday and the Monday night victory celebration from 8-11 p.m. ET.

Here are the details and start times for the 107th Indy 500 (all times are ET):

TV info, Indy 500 start times, schedule

5 a.m.: Garage opens

6 a.m.: Gates open

6:30 a.m.: Tech inspection

8:15 a.m.: Cars pushed to pit lane

10:30 a.m.: Cars on the starting grid

11:47 a.m.: Driver introductions

12:38 p.m.: Command to start engines

12:45 p.m.: Green flag for the 105th Indy 500

How can I watch the Indy 500 on TV?

Click here for the full broadcast schedule on Peacock and NBC for May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Indy 500 will be shown on NBC. Prerace coverage will begin exclusively on Peacock at 9 a.m. and then move to Peacock and NBC at 11 a.m. and run through 4 p.m., followed by a postrace show on Peacock Premium. All broadcasts also will be available via streaming on Peacock, the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com.

Mike Tirico will be the host for NBC’s telecast alongside Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Leigh Diffey will be the play-by-play announcer alongside analysts Townsend Bell and James Hinchcliffe. The pit reporters are Marty Snider, Kevin Lee, Dave Burns and Dillon Welch.

Universo will provide a Spanish-language telecast with Frederik Oldenburg and Sergio Rodriguez providing commentary on Universo and streaming on TelemundoDeportes.com and the Telemundo Deportes app. Veronica Rodriguez will provide on-site reports from IMS

The race also is streamed via the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com.

Race information

DISTANCE: The race is 200 laps (500 miles) around Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.5-mile oval.

FORECAST: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 76 degrees with a 2 percent chance of rain at the green flag.

DEFENDING RACE WINNER: Marcus Ericsson, who is one of nine previous Indy 500 winners in the field.

TIRE ALLOTMENT: There are 32 sets of Firestones for use throughout the event (down from 34 last year).

QUALIFYING: The 33-car field was set May 20-21. Alex Palou qualified first for Chip Ganassi Racing’s third consecutive Indy 500 pole position.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the UPDATED 33-car grid in the 107th Indy 500.

RADIO BROADCASTS: Carb Day, 11 a.m. ET Friday; Sunday, 10 a.m. ET. Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. Paul Page will provide commentary. Nick Yeoman (Turn 1), Michael Young (Turn 2), Jake Query (Turn 3) and Chris Denari (Turn 4) are the turn announcers with Ryan Myrehn, Alex Wollf, Rob Blackman and Scott Sander on pit road.

PRACTICE SUMMARY: Speed charts from when cars have been on the 2.5-mile oval (the May 16 opening day was rained out).

May 17: Practice l Combined

May 18: Practice l Combined

May 19: Practice l Combined

May 20: Practice l Combined

May 21: Practice l Combined

May 22: Practice l Combined

May 26: Practice l Combined


Links to IndyCar stories this month on Motorsports Talk:

Annual photo shows women having an impact on Indy 500 results

Roger Penske feeling hale at another Indy 500 as Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner

Honda needed 45 seconds to approve Graham Rahal racing a Chevy at Indy

A.J. Foyt takes refuge at Indy 500 while weathering grief of wife’s death

Gordon Johncock: The most unassuming Indy 500 legend

Honda needed 45 seconds to approve Graham Rahal racing a Chevy

Alex Palou on his Indy 500 pole, multitasking at 224 mph and a Chip Ganassi surprise

Marcus Ericsson, engineer Brad Goldberg have ties that run very deep

Graham Rahal will replace injured Stefan Wilson in the Indy 500

Family nightmare repeated: Graham Rahal bumped from Indy 500 by teammate

Arrow McLaren, Ganassi strong; Rahal cars struggle on opening day of qualifying

What drivers are saying about Indy 500 qualifying

Remembering the era of Indy 500 qualifying engines increasing speed, danger

Parnelli Jones, A.J. Foyt share 60th anniversary of an important moment

NASCAR champion Kyle Larson visits Indy 500 practice in preparation for 2024

“Unleashing The Dragon” uncorks big emotions for Marcus Ericsson and team

Awaiting Ganassi offer, Marcus Ericsson draws interest from other teams

Kyle Larson visits Indy 500 practice ahead of attempting the 2024 race

Indy 500 qualifying: ‘Four laps, 10 miles, frickin’ fast’

Graham Rahal mulling future with the team his father founded

Romain Grosjean knocking on the door of his first IndyCar victory

After family detour, Ryan Hunter-Reay back on the road to the Indy 500

Christian Lundgaard, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing enjoy best race of season

Jimmie Johnson unsure of returning to the Indy 500


Click here to read NBC Sports Edge’s guide to contenders and darkhorses, including a full breakdown of past winners, veterans and rookies in the 107th Indianapolis 500, as well as the best bets for the race.


No. 10: A.J. Foyt becomes a three-time winner in 1967 as Parnelli Jones’ dominant Granatelli turbine car breaks

No. 9: Sam Hornish Jr. beats Marco Andretti in 2006 on the race’s first last-lap pass

No. 8: Al Unser Jr. edges Scott Goodyear in 1992 for closest finish in the race’s history

No. 7: Rick Mears becomes a four-time winner of the race with a thrilling pass in 1991

No. 6: Louis Meyer becomes the first three-time winner and starts milk tradition

No. 5: Dan Wheldon wins second Indy 500 after J.R. Hildebrand crashes on last lap

No. 4: A.J. Foyt becomes the first four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500

No. 3: Helio Castroneves “reopens America” with his fourth Indy 500 victory