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MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: United States GP

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Formula 1 arrives in Austin, Texas for this weekend’s United States Grand Prix knowing that we could see the coronation of a three-time world champion on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton has led the championship standings from the very beginning of the year in Australia, but will become the first British driver to successfully defend his F1 title if he can win at the Circuit of The Americas and other results go his way.

Hamilton arrives in Austin with an advantage of 66 points over Sebastian Vettel and 73 over Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg. Should he leave COTA with a buffer of 75, he will be world champion yet again.

Ahead of what promises to be one of the most entertaining and important weekend’s of the 2015 grand prix season, here are the latest picks from the MST F1 writers.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. It’s bound to happen, isn’t it? Lewis Hamilton has been at his brilliant best in 2015, and it would be all the more fitting for him to wrap up his third F1 world title in America, a country he has such strong bonds to. Him P1, Rosberg P2 and Vettel P3 will give him the title – a result other than that would come as a surprise.

Surprising FinishRomain Grosjean. RoGro enjoyed one of his finest ever races at COTA back in 2013 when he fended off Mark Webber for P2 in the final stages of the race. The Lotus E23 Hybrid should run quite well here, so I’ll tip Grosjean to pick up a good haul of points.

Most to ProveCOTA. With Mexico posing a threat by returning to the calendar, this weekend’s race is an important one to COTA. A champion being crowned will do little harm to its standing.

Additional Storyline to WatchTexan rain. It hasn’t rained in Austin since August, but this weekend is poised to be a washout. This should make for a fascinating grand prix should rain strike, just as we saw last time it did so at Silverstone. And of course, we must #BlameTony for the rain.

Predict the Podium

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

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race Winner: Lewis Hamilton. The man more or less should apply for dual citizenship at this rate. Loves the country, loves the circuit and if he leads a Mercedes 1-2, he’ll clinch his third World Championship.

Surprising Finish: Felipe Nasr. This was a rare track Sauber had a good qualifying run last year, courtesy of Adrian Sutil, but a first-lap coming together with Sergio Perez cost a chance at points. Outside chance for a say eighth or ninth place finish on pure performance here, to follow on from a good race in Russia.

Most to Prove: Kimi Raikkonen. Needs a bounce back weekend and good points after his error in Sochi.

Additional Storyline to Watch: Rossi comes home. For only the third time in the last 25-odd years, an American driver gets to race in the USGP. Rock on, Alexander Rossi. May the ‘Merica be strong as a Bald Eagle pushes your No. 53 Herbie the Lovebug tribute number Manor Ferrari chassis to a better finish than would otherwise be anticipated.

Predict the Podium

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

Keating stripped of Le Mans GTE-Am win; No. 68 Ganassi entry also disqualified

IMSA
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FIA stewards announced Monday that two Ford GT entries have been disqualified from this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, including the GTE-Am class-winning No. 85 entry from privateer Keating Motorsports.

Also DQ’d was the factory No. 68 Chip Ganassi Racing entry of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais, which initially finished fourth in the GTE-Pro class.

Both entries were found in violation of fuel capacity regulations, with the No. 85 entry also failing to meet the minimum refueling time during pit stops.

The refueling system on the No. 85 entry, driven by Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga, measured a time of 44.4 seconds during a stop, just shy of the minimum required time of 45 seconds.

As a result, the team was initially issued a 55.2-second post-race penalty by officials, which elevated the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR of Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey, and Egidio Perfetti to the class win.

The time penalty was calculated by the difference in the refueling time (0.6 seconds) multiplied by the amount of pit stops made by the team (23), then multiplied by four.

The No. 85 entry was set to finish second in class, but then received an outright DQ after its fuel capacity was also revealed to be 0.1 liters above the maximum permitted capacity of 96 liters.

As for Ganassi’s No. 68 entry, it was found to have a fuel capacity of 97.83 liters, which is above the maximum allowed capacity of 97 liters for the GTE-Pro Fords.

The No. 67 Ford of Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, and Jonathan Bomarito subsequently moves up to fourth, and the No. 69 Ford of Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook moves up to fifth.

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