What To Watch For: United States GP (NBC, Live Extra from 2:30pm ET)

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After a weekend of rain, rain and more rain, we’ve made it: United States Grand Prix race day, and the possible coronation of a three-time world champion.

Lewis Hamilton arrived in Austin knowing that victory with teammate Nico Rosberg in second place would clinch him a third world title with three races to spare, but heads into the race as blind as the rest of the field after seeing FP2 and Q3 get washed out completely.

The rain is set to subside before the race, and although the drivers will unquestionably be running on wet and intermediate tires (the latter at a push), the grand prix is going to happen.

It was Rosberg who seized the advantage in qualifying earlier today, posting the fastest time in Q2 and taking pole after Q3 was cancelled. Hamilton will start alongside him on the front row of the grid, with the Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat looming behind.

You can watch the United States Grand Prix live on NBC and Live Extra from 2:30pm ET on Sunday. CLICK HERE to watch via live stream.

2015 United States Grand Prix – What To Watch For


Lewis Hamilton’s task today has been made simpler by the fact that closest title rival Sebastian Vettel has a grid penalty, leaving him 14th for the start. As such, beating Nico Rosberg should be enough to clinch him a third world title in Austin – and that’s hardly something he’s struggled to do this year.

A third world title would put him on par with Ayrton Senna and Jackie Stewart, and also make him the first British driver to successfully defend the championship. As I wrote earlier this week, winning it on US soil will only make things all the sweeter.

As an aside: Hamilton has never won a world title in sunshine. Interlagos 2008 was a downpour, and Abu Dhabi was won under the night sky. Number three could be another wet one if he clinches it today.


Using the word “drought” in Austin this weekend is irony personified. Alas, Nico Rosberg enters today’s race hoping to end a win drought that dates all the way back to the Austrian Grand Prix in June, some four months ago.

The German driver has struggled to match Hamilton in recent weeks, and although victory here would only be delaying the inevitable title success for his teammate, Rosberg will be hungry to end the rut at COTA.


Mercedes may still be top dogs even in wet conditions, but Red Bull showed in qualifying that it could put up a fight to the Silver Arrows at the front. Both Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat have ran well in the wet before, and from the second row of the grid, they could yet spring a surprise.

For Ricciardo, it will be important for him to pick up some big points in what has been a difficult season. Slipping behind Kvyat in the drivers’ championship will have done little to help his standing in F1, and although the smile will remain, he needs to unleash his inner Honey Badger soon.


Although the rain is set to ease during the race, conditions will still be treacherous at the start, setting the stage for an almighty battle between the drivers out on track. Real ‘wet’ races in F1 have been quite sparse in recent years – let’s hope today’s US GP makes up for that.

Quite how the weather will have affected attendance figures remains unclear, but it’s hard to believe the three-day figure of over 250,000 will get even close to being matched this year. Austin has kept its smile regardless, though, which has been wonderful to see.


After all these years, Alexander Rossi will finally race in the United States Grand Prix today. The American driver becomes the first to race at home since Scott Speed back in 2007, and will be hoping to use the weather to his advantage in his star-spangled Manor.

That said, this has been about as ‘Alexander Rossi’ a weekend as you could have imagined: lots of promise, only for something to get in the way (namely the weather). Regardless of his end result at COTA, today is arguably the biggest of his career to date.


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

* grid penalty
** missed 107% cut, given dispensation to race by stewards

The United States Grand Prix is live on NBC and Live Extra from 2:30pm ET on Sunday.

Strong rebounds for Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi amid some disappointments in the Indy 500


INDIANAPOLIS – Alex Palou had not turned a wheel wrong the entire Month of May at the Indy 500 until Rinus VeeKay turned a wheel into the Chip Ganassi Racing pole-sitter leaving pit road on Lap 94.

“There is nothing I could have done there,” Palou told NBC Sports. “It’s OK, when it is my fault or the team’s fault because everybody makes mistakes. But when there is nothing, you could have done differently there, it feels bad and feels bad for the team.”

Marcus Ericsson was a master at utilizing the “Tail of the Dragon” move that breaks the draft of the car behind him in the closing laps to win last year’s Indianapolis 500. On Sunday, however, the last of three red flags in the final 16 laps of the race had the popular driver from Sweden breathing fire after Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden beat him at his own game on the final lap to win the Indianapolis 500.

Despite the two disappointments, team owner Chip Ganassi was seen on pit road fist-bumping a member on his four-car team in this year’s Indianapolis 500 after his drivers finished second, fourth, sixth and seventh in the tightly contested race.

Those are pretty good results, but at the Indianapolis 500, there is just one winner and 32 losers.

“There is only one winner, but it was a hell of a show,” three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and Chip Ganassi Racing consultant Dario Franchitti told NBC Sports. “Alex was very fast, and he got absolutely caught out in somebody else’s wreck. There was nothing he could have done, but he and the 10 car, great recovery.

“Great recovery by all four cars because at half distance, we were not looking very good.”

After 92 laps, the first caution flew for Sting Ray Robb of Dale Coyne Racing hitting the Turn 1 wall.

During pit stops on Lap 94, Palou had left his stall when the second-place car driven by VeeKay ran into him, putting Palou’s Honda into the wall. The car sustained a damaged front wing, but the Chip Ganassi crew was able to get him back in the race on the lead lap but in 28th position.

Palou ultimately would fight his way to a fourth-place finish in a race the popular Spaniard could have won. His displeasure with VeeKay, whom he sarcastically called “a legend” on his team radio after the incident, was evident.

“The benefit of being on pole is you can drive straight and avoid crashes, and he was able to crash us on the side on pit lane, which is pretty tough to do, but he managed it,” Palou told NBC Sports. “Hopefully next year we are not beside him. Hopefully, next year we have a little better luck.”

Palou started on the pole and led 36 laps, just three fewer than race leader Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren Racing.

“We started really well, was managing the fuel as we wanted, our car was pretty good,” Palou said. “Our car wasn’t great, we dropped to P4 or P5, but we still had some good stuff.

“On the pit stop, the 21 (VeeKay) managed to clip us. Nothing we could have done there. It was not my team’s fault or my fault.

“We had to drop to the end. I’m happy we made it back to P4. We needed 50 more laps to make it happen, but it could have been a lot worse after that contact.

“I learned a lot, running up front at the beginning and in mid-pack and then the back. I learned a lot.

“It feels amazing when you win it and not so good when things go wrong. We were a bit lucky with so many restarts at the end to make it back to P4 so I’m happy with that.”

Palou said the front wing had to be changed and the toe-in was a bit off, but he still had a fast car.

In fact, his Honda was the best car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway all month. His pole-winning four lap average speed of 234.217 miles per hour around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a record for this fabled race.

Palou looked good throughout the race, before he had to scratch and claw and race his way back to the top-five after he restarted 28th.

In the Indianapolis 500, however, the best car doesn’t always win.

“It’s two years in a row that we were leading the race at the beginning and had to drop to last,” Palou said. “Maybe next year, we will start in the middle of the field and go on to win the race.

“I know he didn’t do it on purpose. It’s better to let that pass someday.”

Palou said the wild racing at the end was because the downforce package used in Sunday’s race means the drivers have to be aggressive. The front two cars can battle for the victory, but cars back in fourth or fifth place can’t help determine the outcome of the race.

That is when the “Tail of the Dragon” comes into the play.

Franchitti helped celebrate Ericsson’s win in 2022 with his “Tail of the Dragon” zigzag move – something he never had to do in any of his three Indianapolis 500 victories because they all finished under caution.

In 2023, however, IndyCar Race Control wants to make every attempt to finish the race under green, without going past the scheduled distance like NASCAR’s overtime rule.

Instead of extra laps, they stop the race with a red flag, to create a potential green-flag finish condition.

“You do what you have to do to win within the rules, and it’s within the rules, so you do it,” Franchitti said. “The race is 200 laps and there is a balance.

“Marcus did a great job on that restart and so did Josef. It was just the timing of who was where and that was it.

“If you knew it was going to go red, you would have hung back on the lap before.

“Brilliant job by the whole Ganassi organization because it wasn’t looking very good at half-distance.

“Full marks to Josef Newgarden and Team Penske.”

Franchitti is highly impressed by how well Ericsson works with CGR engineer Brad Goldberg and how close this combination came to winning the Indianapolis 500 two-years-in-a-row.

It would have been the first back-to-back Indy 500 winner since Helio Castroneves in 2001 and 2002.

“Oh, he’s a badass,” Franchitti said Ericsson. “He proved it last year. He is so calm all day. What more do you need? As a driver, he’s fast and so calm.”

Ericsson is typically in good spirits and jovial.

He was stern and direct on pit road after the race.

“I did everything right, I did an awesome restart, caught Josef off-guard and pulled away,” Ericsson said on pit lane. “It’s hard to pull away a full lap and he got me back.

“I’m mostly disappointed with the way he ended. I don’t think it was fair and safe to do that restart straight out of the pits on cold tires for everyone.

“To me, it was not a good way to end that race.

“Congrats to Josef. He didn’t do anything wrong. He is a worthy champion, but it shouldn’t have ended like that.”

Palou also didn’t understand the last restart, which was a one-start showdown.

“I know that we want to finish under green,” Palou said. “Maybe the last restart I did, I didn’t understand. It didn’t benefit the CGR team.

“I’m not very supportive of the last one, but anyway.”

Dixon called the red flags “a bit sketchy.”

“The red flags have become a theme to the end of the race, but sometimes they can catch you out,” Dixon said. “I know Marcus is frustrated with it.

“All we ask for is consistency. I think they will do better next time.

“It’s a tough race. People will do anything they can to win it and with how these reds fall, you have to be in the right place at the right time. The problem is when they throw a Red or don’t throw a Red dictates how the race will end.

“It’s a bloody hard race to win. Congrats to Josef Newgarden and to Team Penske.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500