MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: 2016 Chinese GP

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After winning the opening two races of the 2016 Formula 1 season, Nico Rosberg arrives at the site of his first ever grand prix victory this weekend with hopes of extending his streak.

Rosberg has won the last five F1 races – a feat no driver has managed without becoming champion – and will look to extend the run to six on Sunday in the Chinese Grand Prix.

Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton will be hungry to bounce back from a tough start to the season that has seen him slip 17 points behind Rosberg in the championship, and also boasts an impressive record in Shanghai.

As usual, MotorSportsTalk writers Luke Smith and Tony DiZinno have made their picks for the weekend ahead. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

The Chinese Grand Prix weekend is live across NBCSN and Live Extra this weekend. For full TV information, click here.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race Winner: Lewis Hamilton. As impressive as Nico Rosberg’s run has been, I’m marking this down as the weekend that Hamilton finally strikes back. His record in China is matched by no-one, and if he can make a good start and go wheel-to-wheel with Rosberg, I’d tip him to come out on top and claw back some of the deficit.

Surprising FinishEsteban Gutierrez. Gutierrez was unfortunate to drop out in Bahrain early on due to a brake disc issue, but his good qualifying and start does give a sign of things to come. I’ll back Esteban to score his first F1 points in over two years in China.

Most to ProveSauber. After a disappointing start to the season on-track, Sauber’s future is now coming under scrutiny once again. The team will be in China, but it needs to prove that it has a plan for the future and that it can still battle for points.

Additional Storyline to WatchFall out from qualifying. We may be going back to the 2015 format this weekend, yet it will be fascinating to watch the political fall out of it all. Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt backed down in the face of the strength from the teams, but at what price?

Predict the Podium

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

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race Winner: Lewis Hamilton. If ever there was a time or place for Hamilton to stop the Rosberg train, it’s at a track where Hamilton has four past wins, including the last two. A pivotal weekend for him and I think he seizes it.

Surprising Finish: Pascal Wehrlein. Not sure if we can call Grosjean/Haas scoring big points a surprise anymore – who’d have thought we’d be typing that weeks ago – so perhaps China is the place where Wehrlein breaks into the points on merit. Very promising signs were shown in Bahrain and I think he keeps it up this weekend.

Most to ProveFerrari. Two reliability failures in two races have them already 50 points back of Mercedes this early in the season. Seems hard to believe that the Constructor’s Championship is already getting out of reach but Ferrari needs two solid points finishes, and in an ideal world getting at least one of its cars ahead of a Merc.

Additional Storyline to Watch: The returns. Assuming Alonso has been cleared to go and the 2015 qualifying format makes a welcome comeback, here’s two elements of the race weekend that will be important to watch.

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull