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MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: 2016 Canadian GP

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The Canadian Grand Prix has established itself as one of Formula 1’s most popular races over the years for both fans and members of the paddock alike.

Lewis Hamilton is a particular fan of the event, having won at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve four times during his F1 career.

The Briton arrives in Montreal hopeful of adding a fifth on Sunday and continuing from where he left off last time out in Monaco as he claimed his first win of the 2016 season.

The result not only ended a poor run of form, but it also almost halved the championship lead Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg had forged in the opening five races of the season.

However, with Rosberg up for a fight and the Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen on the rise, Hamilton is unlikely to have it all his own way this weekend.

Here are our predictions for the weekend ahead. Let us know in the comments section how you see the Canadian Grand Prix playing out.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race Winner: Lewis Hamilton. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is arguably where we see Lewis Hamilton at his very best. His wet-dry masterclass in Monaco was a joy to behold, and with rain on the horizon in Montreal, he could excel in the conditions once again. I can’t look past him after such a big breakthrough last time out. The momentum has swung in the title race.

Surprise Finish: Romain Grosjean. Grosjean usually goes well in Canada, having finished second here back in 2012 with Lotus. Such a lofty result may be out of the question with Haas this weekend, but a return to the points will be the aim.

Most to Prove: Max Verstappen. Following his victory in Spain, Verstappen came back down to earth with a bump last time out in Monaco. The Dutchman crashed three times across the course of the weekend, putting an end to what looked set to be a productive weekend. Now armed with the upgraded Renault power unit, he’s got a point to prove in Canada.

Additional Storyline: Groundhogs. F1’s furry friends often make an appearance in Montreal. Let’s see if the drivers can avoid them on-track this weekend.

Predict the Podium

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

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race Winner: Lewis Hamilton. Perhaps lucky to win in Monaco – OK, very lucky – Hamilton should be able to win on outright form at a track where he has four past victories. Keeps the momentum going.

Surprise Finish: Valtteri Bottas. Given how underwhelming the Finn has been in comparison to his teammate and on the whole this year at Williams, is due a podium or top-four result.

Most to Prove: Daniel Ricciardo. How, you ask, does the guy who probably could have won each of the last two GPs had it not been for strategy screw-ups by his team have the most to prove? Ricciardo famously got his first GP win in Canada a couple years ago and this could be a weekend for him to do it on outright pace since the Red Bull is there, in a more straightforward fight compared to the weather affected at Monaco. He’ll want to prove the team has done him wrong the last two races and get on top of his own.

Additional Storyline: Whither Ferrari? At a track where straight line speed is king, does Ferrari have it what it takes to match the Mercs and Red Bulls or will they fall further behind?

Predict the Podium

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

IndyCar’s revised schedule gives Tony Kanaan an extra race in 2020

INDYCAR Photo by Joe Skibinski
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Tony Kanaan got a bit of good news when the latest revised NTT IndyCar Series schedule was released Monday.

Kanaan’s “Ironman Streak” of 317 consecutive starts would have concluded with the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 15. That race was postponed, and the races that followed have been canceled or rescheduled later in the year. The season tentatively is scheduled to start June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway.

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is the reason for the tentative nature of this year’s 2020 NTT IndyCar Series schedule.

Kanaan, the 2004 IndyCar Series champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner, started the season with a limited schedule for A.J. Foyt Racing in the No. 14 Chevrolet. That schedule included all five oval races, including the 104th Indianapolis 500.

A silver lining for Kanaan is that this year’s trip to Iowa Speedway will be a doubleheader, instead of a single oval contest. His schedule has grown from five to six races for 2020, should the season start on time with the June 6 contest at Texas Motor Speedway and the additional race at Iowa.

“I’m really happy that IndyCar has been very proactive about the schedule and keeping us posted with the plans,” Kanaan told NBCSports.com Tuesday afternoon from his home in Indianapolis. “I’m double happy that now with Iowa being a doubleheader, I’m doing six races instead of five.”

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Kanaan’s “Last Lap” is something that many fans and competitors in IndyCar want to celebrate. He has been a fierce foe on the track but also a valued friend outside the car to many of his fellow racers.

He also has been quite popular with fans and likely is the most popular Indianapolis 500 driver of his generation.

Scott Dixon was Kanaan’s teammate at Chip Ganassi Racing from 2013-17. At one time, they were foes but eventually became friends.

“I hope it’s not T.K.’s last 500,” Dixon told NBCSports.com. “I was hoping T.K. would get a full season. That has changed. His first race of what was going to his regular season was going to be the 500. Hopefully, that plays out.

“You have to look at T.K. for who he is, what he has accomplished and what he has done for the sport. He has been massive for the Indianapolis 500, for the city of Indianapolis to the whole culture of the sport. He is a legend of the sport.

“We had our differences early in our career and had problems in 2002 and 2003 and 2004 when we were battling for championships. We fought for race wins and championships in the 2000s. I’ve been on both sides, where he was fighting against me in a championship or where he was fighting with me to go for a championship. He is a hell of a competitor; a fantastic person.

“I hope it’s not his last, but if it is, I hope it’s an extremely successful one for him this season.”

Even before Kanaan joined Chip Ganassi Racing, Dixon admitted he couldn’t help but be drawn to Kanaan’s personality.

“T.K. is a very likable person,” Dixon said. “You just have to go to dinner with the guy once, and you understand why that is. The ups and downs were a competitive scenario where he was helping you for a win or helping someone else for a win. There was never a dislike or distrust. We always got along very well.

“We are very tight right now and really close. He is a funny-ass dude. He has always been a really good friend for me, that’s for sure.”

Back in 2003 when both had come to the old Indy Racing League after beginning their careers in CART, the two drivers were racing hard for the lead at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan on April 13, 2003. They were involved in a hard crash in Turn 2 that left Kanaan broken up with injuries. IRL officials penalized Dixon for “aggressive driving.” Dixon had to sit out the first three days of practice for the next race – the 2003 Indianapolis 500.

Kanaan recovered in time and did not miss any racing. He started second and finished third in that year’s Indy 500.

“We were racing hard and going for the win,” Dixon recalled of the Motegi race. “It was a crucial part of the season. Everybody has to be aggressive. I respect Tony for that. He was not letting up. That is what I always saw with Tony, how hard the guy will push. He will go to the absolute limit, and that is why he was inspiring and why he was a successful driver.

“Those moments are blips. You might not talk to the guy for a week, but then you are back on track. T.K. is very close with our family and we are with his.”

This season, because of highly unusual circumstances, T.K.’s IndyCar career will last for one more race than previously scheduled.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500