What To Watch For: Russian GP (NBCSN, Live Extra from 6:30am ET)

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With the end of the 2015 Formula 1 season now in sight, today’s Russian Grand Prix has the potential to be one of the most important races in the championship battle so far.

Nico Rosberg may trail Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by 48 points at the top of the drivers’ standings, but the German enjoyed the edge in qualifying on Saturday as he claimed pole position by three-tenths of a second.

Hamilton will start alongside Rosberg on the front row of the grid, and knows that a win in Russia will give him the chance to wrap up a third world title next time out in the United States Grand Prix.

For now though, here’s what to watch for in today’s Russian Grand Prix.

What To Watch For – 2015 Russian Grand Prix

Hamilton, Rosberg ready for first lap drag race

The Sochi Autodrom is hardly the most inspiring circuit on the F1 calendar, but the long run from the start line to the first braking point at turn two will create a great drag race on the opening lap of the race.

Rosberg ruined his race by trying to pass Hamilton at turn two last year, and both drivers will have studied the 2014 footage to find areas for improvement. It will be intriguing to see how things play out on the first lap between our championship protagonists.

Can Vettel keep Mercedes in sight?

Sebastian Vettel was highly frustrated to have only qualified fourth on Saturday, but remains very confident for today’s race, believing that Ferrari will be able to take a step towards Mercedes compared to qualifying.

Although victory is very unlikely given Mercedes’ dominance in qualifying, Vettel will be doing all he can to keep the Silver Arrows in sight and – perhaps as a first step – beat Williams’ Valtteri Bottas to complete the podium.

Sainz declared fit to race

Remarkably, Carlos Sainz Jr. is set to start today’s Russian Grand Prix despite suffering a terrifying crash during practice on Saturday. The Spaniard pitched under the TecPro barriers, prompting concern for the medical crews that were sent to rescue him.

Sainz was taken to hospital but was unharmed and eventually discharged last night. After passing this morning’s FIA medical check, the Toro Rosso driver will line-up on the grid last – but simply making the start is a shown of great resolve from the youngster.

A happy 250th for Alonso?

Fernando Alonso is celebrating his 250th grand prix this weekend, but not in the fashion he may have liked to. For a driver widely regarded as being one of F1’s all-time greats, starting P19 thanks to a 35-place grid penalty and following a Q1 exit is hardly the fanfare desired.

Alas, Alonso will continue to fight as he has done throughout his racing career, and if the pace of teammate Jenson Button is anything to go by, Alonso could yet fight his way up towards the fringes of the top ten, and potentially into the points.

Mercedes looks to wrap up constructors’ championship

At no point this year has it ever been in doubt, but Mercedes may finally clinch its second F1 constructors’ championship today, wrapping it up in Sochi for the second year in succession.

To be crowned champion, Mercedes simply has to outscore Ferrari by three points in today’s race. Team boss Toto Wolff admitted on Saturday that the team does have special t-shirts to celebrate stashed away just in case they are needed, but this confidence should not be mocked. Mercedes has been a tour de force in F1 over the past two years, and such success is richly deserved.

Starting Grid for the 2015 Russian Grand Prix

1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
3. Valtteri Bottas Williams
4. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
5. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
6. Nico Hulkenberg Force India
7. Sergio Perez Force India
8. Romain Grosjean Lotus
9. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso
10. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
11. Daniil Kvyat Red Bull
12. Felipe Nasr Sauber
13. Jenson Button McLaren
14. Pastor Maldonado Lotus
15. Felipe Massa Williams
16. Marcus Ericsson Sauber
17. Will Stevens Manor
18. Roberto Merhi Manor
19. Fernando Alonso McLaren
20. Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso

The Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 6:30am ET on Sunday.

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