© Getty Images

MotorSportsTalk Predictions: Russian Grand Prix

Leave a comment

The 2015 Formula 1 season is slowly nearing its conclusion with just five races remaining, and this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix could see the first silverware of the year be decided.

Mercedes is within touching distance of a second constructors’ championship, knowing that if it outscores Ferrari by just three points in Sochi, the title will be sewn up in Sochi for a second consecutive year.

Lewis Hamilton is also continuing his march to the drivers’ title, and knows that victory in Russia will give him the chance to be crowned a three-time champion next time out in Austin or – more realistically – Mexico.

Ferrari will be hoping to delay the party for as long as possible, though. The tire allocation for this weekend’s race at the Sochi Autodrom – super-soft and soft – does appear to favor the Italian marque, setting up a great battle at the front of the field.

Here’s what the MST writing team had to say ahead of this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, which is live across NBCSN and Live Extra. For full broadcast details, click here.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race WinnerSebastian Vettel. I’m going to be a bit different and tip Vettel to put the softer tire allocation to good use at Sochi and win a fourth race of the year. Ferrari’s recent engine updates appear to finally be coming good, and, most importantly, a fourth win would force team principal Maurizio Arrivabene to make good on his pre-season promise that he would run barefoot up the hill to Maranello – and who doesn’t want to see that?

Surprising FinishFelipe Massa. Williams’ recent form hasn’t been overly impressive, but I reckon Massa and teammate Valtteri Bottas could buck the trend here in Russia.

Most to ProveNico Rosberg. 48 points behind, and defeat to Hamilton here would give the Briton the chance to wrap it up four races early at the United States Grand Prix. It’s time for Rosberg to show a bit of fight.

Additional Storyline to WatchYear two for Sochi. Last year’s race was something of a drab affair both on and off track. The facility in Sochi is very shiny and brand new, albeit a little lifeless. Let’s see how things develop this time around.

Predict the Podium

1. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
3. Felipe Massa Williams

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. Peerless here last year and back on form at Suzuka a couple weeks ago. He’ll move closer to the title with another triumph this weekend.

Surprising FinishFelipe Massa. I’ll say the Brazilian bounces back from his debacle here last year where he was bounced in Q1 and missed the points to a podium finish this weekend. The Mercedes-powered cars should be strong and I like Felipe to capitalize.

Most to ProveNico Rosberg. With fading title hopes and after his faux pas last year on the start, must perform in both qualifying and the race if he is to have any hope of snatching the title from his teammate.

Additional Storyline to WatchSochi, year two. The debut last year of the race felt a bit muted anyway given it was a week on from Suzuka and the emotional overhead of Jules Bianchi’s accident was first and foremost. The race debut came during an Olympics year, as well, so it wasn’t even the biggest storyline in Sochi during 2014. In year two, will the race be any more interesting? Will the interest in the race from the locals carry much weight?

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Felipe Massa Williams

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).