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Rosberg anticipating ‘big battle’ with Ferrari in Bahrain

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Nico Rosberg is readying himself for a “big battle” with Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen in Bahrain as he looks to continue his strong start to the 2016 Formula 1 season this weekend.

Rosberg won the opening round of the year in Australia to extend his winning streak to four races, leading home Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton for a one-two finish.

However, Ferrari enjoyed the rule of the race in Melbourne early on, suggesting that Mercedes could face a tougher fight at the front of the pack in 2016.

“We’ve stepped up our game once again with a fantastic car, but Ferrari were a real threat all weekend in Melbourne and it’s clear that we’ve got a big battle on our hands, so we have to keep pushing very hard,” Rosberg said.

“The new radio rules make things quite a big challenge. It’s tough out there – and for me it’s a good direction we’ve taken, giving the drivers more responsibility. The important thing is whether it’s what the fans want to see, so we need to listen to them.

“It’s Bahrain next – a track which always seems to provide entertainment for me! I’ve had some great battles there in the last two years with Lewis and also the Ferraris, so I’m expecting more of the same this time and very much looking forward to that.

“It was great to win the first race – but the aim is to come out on top at every step of the way this season, starting this weekend. There’s a long way to go…”

The Bahrain Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and CNBC this weekend. Click here for full TV details.

Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

Andretti Autosport James Hinchcliffe
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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

VEACH OUT: Driver elects to vacate seat for rest of season

“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”