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MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: 2016 Bahrain GP

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Since becoming a night race in 2014, the Bahrain Grand Prix has carved itself a curious niche as being one of the most entertaining events in the early part of the season.

Nico Rosberg arrives in Bahrain on a high after winning the opening race of the season in Australia, leading home Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton for a comfortable one-two finish.

It was a brilliant strategy call that won it for Mercedes Down Under, but this time around, Ferrari may pose a more serious threat after impressing early on last time out.

Here are the MST team’s picks for this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race WinnerNico Rosberg. Go on then, let’s run with Rosberg again. Nico showed signs of his 2014 self in Australia with a cool, fuss-free victory. At the site of one of his most painful defeats in racing two years ago, I’m backing him to extend the winning streak to five.

Surprising FinishCarlos Sainz Jr. Having been stuck in Max Verstappen’s shadow for much of his rookie season, Sainz showed signs (or should that be sainz, hur hur hur…) in Australia that he is no longer willing to lay down for his hyped up teammate. The Toro Rosso car is solid, so I’ll back Sainz to score a top five on Sunday.

Most to ProveHaas F1 Team. Harsh? Maybe. We all loved Haas’ debut charge to the points, but the real challenge now facing the team is repeating it. Bahrain could give us a sign of what to truly expect from the American team in its first F1 season.

Additional Storyline to WatchQualifying. I worked a Fall Out Boy lyric into my race preview, and I’ll do the same here: “Sugar we’re going down swinging” – let’s hope this is the last we see of elimination qualifying.

Predict the Podium

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

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race Winner: Sebastian Vettel. Going to go bold with the first non-Mercedes pick of the season. Had Ferrari got its tire choice correct at Melbourne, Vettel’s start vaulted him ahead and put him in position to win. And with Ferrari having gone for more mediums than Mercedes in Bahrain, it may aid them in terms of tire management during the race. Vettel could win it with that combo of close enough pace and better tire strategy, compared to the Mercs.

Surprising FinishMax Verstappen. After the disappointment of Melbourne, pegging the precocious teenager to bag a big result in the desert.

Most to Prove: Haas F1 Team. The follow-up act is always harder than the premiere. With the team riding the wave of momentum after its shock sixth place in Melbourne, how will Haas fare in what is more likely to be a more straightforward GP, absent a mid-race crash and safety car period? Points aren’t required again but if Haas can put together two clean races for Grosjean and Gutierrez, including standard pit stops, it’ll have been a solid second act.

Additional Storyline to Watch: Qualifying. Again. Qualifying was a debacle in Melbourne, so naturally, it’s getting a second chance encore in Bahrain. What’s the old saying about trying the same thing and expecting different results? We’ll see whether the sequel here is as bad as the debut.

Predict the Podium

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

Indianapolis Motor Speedway can have 10,000 fans for IndyCar races

Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have crowds for its NTT IndyCar Series race weekend next month, the first time fans are allowed at the track this year.

The track announced Friday that up to 10,000 fans will be allowed in the grandstands daily from Oct. 1-4. The IndyCar Harvest GP race doubleheader will be held on the track’s road course Oct. 2-3.

IMS has played host to several events this year without fans, including the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23 and a NASCAR-IndyCar weekend July 4-5 that included the Brickyard 400. Plans originally were made to have fans at the Indy 500 before reversing course a few weeks ahead of the race. In a letter last month, Roger Penske vowed that fans would return for the 2021 Indy 500.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS president Doug Boles said in a release. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

Fans will undergo temperature screenings upon entry and also be required to wear face coverings at all times on property. The track said each attendee will receive a mask and bottle of hand sanitizer.

The Friday, Oct. 2 race will be shown at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA, and NBC will broadcast the Saturday, Oct. 3 race at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s the release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 – For the first time in 2020, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans to the Racing Capital of the World for the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators can be in the grandstands each day of racing action Oct. 1-4, per approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.

Tickets are available now via IMS.com and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The massive facility, which holds more than 300,000 people, will provide two spectator zones with up to 5,000 fans in each. The zones will be located in Turns 1 and 4 of the oval, offering strong sightlines of the road course. Strict health and safety rules will be in place, including the following:

  • Face coverings must be worn throughout the property at all times;
  • All fans will receive temperature screenings before gate entry;
  • Grandstand seats will be marked for distancing;
  • Attendees must use pre-assigned gates and remain in their designated zones.

Global Medical Response, the world leader in compassionate, quality emergency medical and patient relocation services, will be the presenting sponsor of the penultimate weekend of INDYCAR racing this season.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

The plan, which includes each attendee receiving a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer upon entering the track, was developed in consultation with state and local health officials.

This event weekend is highlighted by an NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader, with races Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3. It will be the penultimate event of the series’ season as the field pursues the champion’s prestigious Astor Challenge Cup to be awarded Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The INDYCAR Harvest GP will pay tribute to a storied IMS event, the Harvest Classic in September 1916. The Harvest Classic was the only racing event held outside of May at IMS from 1911 through 1993. The event featured three races, all won by legendary driver Johnny Aitken.

Fans also will see a host of facility improvements during the event weekend, including more than 30 new LED video boards, refreshed concession stands and restrooms, and 5G wireless connectivity throughout the facility.

The first race will air at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday, Oct. 2 on the USA Network. NBC will broadcast the second race at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Oct. 3, with WTHR-13 airing the action live in Central Indiana.

Also racing that weekend will be the first pairing of two major sports car series — the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS. Former Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ryan Briscoe is among the drivers in the Indianapolis 8 Hour event held Sunday, Oct. 4.

The event also will showcase drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America and the TC America series.

The full on-track schedule is available at IMS.com.