© Getty Images

MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: United States GP

2 Comments

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

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will race IndyCar stars in iRacing at Michigan

Leave a comment

The invite has been received, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. has another iRacing event on his schedule.

The NASCAR on NBC analyst tweeted Wednesday that he will make his debut in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge with Saturday’s race at Michigan Speedway. The race will be shown live on NBCSN at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday.

The 2-mile oval was chosen by IndyCar drivers as the third track in the six-race series. Earnhardt heartily endorsed Michigan as a potential iRacing venue Monday along with Daytona and Talladega. Michigan nearly was selected by fans as the opener in the iRacing Challenge.

DRIVE LIKE ANDRETTI: Marco is in for Michigan

REVISED SCHEDULE: IndyCar makes 2020 adjustments

Earnhardt, a longtime avid iRacing fan, had been lobbying since last Thursday that he was interested in racing with IndyCar drivers.

He has driven in the first three races of the eNASCAR Pro Invitational, finishing second to Denny Hamlin in the opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Last year, he attended his first Indianapolis 500, working as an analyst as part of NBC Sports’ inaugural broadcast of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

“I’d love to do it,” Earnhardt said Monday about joining the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “I think I’d love to get to know those guys.

“I had such a great time at the Indy 500 last year, and the reception that I received from other drivers there really meant a lot to me. So I know they’re all a lot of great dudes in that series that I already know that I’d love to get to know some of them even better.”

It already has been quite the week for Earnhardt, who was announced Monday as one of 15 nominees for the 2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The field for Saturday’s race at Michigan should include another  NASCAR driver in Jimmie Johnson. The seven-time Cup champion has driven the first two races of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge (and has plans to race IndyCar part time in the future).