2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Preview

After 20 hard-fought, and exciting races, the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship comes to a close at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi for Round 21 of the championship, a season that will be remembered for Lewis Hamilton winning his fifth world championship, equalling the record of Juan Manuel Fangio, and moving to within two of Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championships.

However, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will mark the end of the Formula One career of two-time world champion Fernando Alonso. 313 entries (311 starts), 32 wins, 97 podiums, 22 pole positions, and 23 fastest laps, racing for the likes of Minardi, Renault, McLaren, and Ferrari over the course of 17 seasons in Formula One. It has truly been a remarkable career for the most part.

For the record, Hamilton (383 points) leads the championship for Mercedes by an unassailable 81 points over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel (302 points), but the focus in the world championship lies in the battle for third between Kimi Räikkönen (251 points), Valtteri Bottas (237 points), and Max Verstappen (234 points) with only 17 points separating the three with one race to go.

Both Räikkönen and Verstappen have been in great form in recent races, with the Finn having three-straight podiums in the last three races, including claiming the United States Grand Prix, and will be looking to secure third in the championship before leaving Ferrari for Sauber-Ferrari next year, while the Dutchman has been on the podium in four-straight races, including winning the Mexican Grand Prix, and should have won in Brazil after Esteban Ocon, who was attempting to unlap himself, collided with Verstappen while he was leading the race.

However, Bottas hasn’t been on the podium in the last three races, finishing fifth in all three of those races, and will be desperate to get a win before the season comes to an end.

As far as the championship permutations for third, this is how each driver can claim third in the world championship.

For Räikkönen:

  1. If he finishes ahead of Bottas and Verstappen.
  2. If Bottas wins the race, Räikkönen must finish 4th or higher.
  3. If Bottas finishes second, Räikkönen must finish 8th or higher assuming Verstappen doesn’t win the race.
  4. If Bottas finishes third, Räikkönen must finish 10th or higher assuming Verstappen doesn’t finish inside the top two.
  5. If Bottas finishes fourth or lower assuming Verstappen doesn’t finish inside the top two.
  6. If Verstappen wins the race, Räikkönen must finish 5th or higher.
  7. If Verstappen finishes second, Räikkönen must finish ninth or higher assuming Bottas doesn’t win the race.
  8. If Verstappen finishes third or lower assuming Bottas doesn’t finish inside the top two.

For Bottas:

  1. If Bottas wins the race, Räikkönen must finish 5th or lower.
  2. If Bottas finishes second, Räikkönen must finish 9th or lower assuming Verstappen doesn’t win the race.
  3. If Bottas finishes third, Räikkönen must finish 11th or lower assuming Verstappen doesn’t finish inside the top two.

For Verstappen:

  1. If Verstappen wins the race, Räikkönen must finish 6th or lower.
  2. If Verstappen finishes second, Räikkönen must finish 10th or lower assuming Bottas doesn’t win the race.

Behind the top five in the championship, Daniel Ricciardo (158 points) will finish in sixth, while there is, mathematically at least, a six-way battle for seventh in the standings between Nico Hülkenberg (69 points), Sergio Pérez (58 points), Kevin Magnussen (55 points), Fernando Alonso (50 points), Esteban Ocon (49 points), and Carlos Sainz Jr. (45 points), while Romain Grosjean (35 points), Charles Leclerc (33 points), and Pierre Gasly (29 points) all remain in mathematical contention of finishing inside the top 10 in the world championship.

As far as the Constructors’ Championship is concerned, Mercedes (620 points) claimed their fifth-straight championship in Brazil, and lead by an unassailable 67 points over Ferrari (553 points), while Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer (392 points) will finish in third.

Behind the clear top three, the battle is still on for fourth between Renault (114 points) and Haas-Ferrari (90 points), while McLaren-Renault (62 points) are sixth, but could still be challenged by Force India-Mercedes (48 points) and Sauber-Ferrari (42 points), who could still yet be challenged by Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (33 points), while Williams-Mercedes (seven points) will certainly finish 10th barring a minor miracle.

So, who will win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?

I think Mercedes will be strong once again in the United Arab Emirates, but I think they will face some strong competition from Ferrari. Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer can challenge, but they will need to focus fully on the race if they are to challenge.

In my view, this is the best chance for Valtteri Bottas to claim a race victory in 2018, and if he does claim victory in Abu Dhabi, it will certainly be well-deserved!

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2018 Newcastle 500 – Preview

IMG_1379[1]

Photo of the Newcastle Street Circuit precinct a few weeks before the event.

For the second time in as many years, the Supercars Championship is set for a thrilling conclusion in Newcastle, and this time, it will be a battle between two Kiwi drivers in Scott McLaughlin from DJR Team Penske, and Shane Van Gisbergen from Triple Eight Race Engineering as the 2018 Supercars Championship heads to the Newcastle Street Circuit for the 16th and final round of the season, the Newcastle 500.

Just 14 points separate McLaughlin (3656 points) and Van Gisbergen (3642 points) with both having stellar seasons, but within those stellar seasons, they have both had down moments.

McLaughlin has claimed eight wins and 19 podiums overall in 29 races, including four-straight wins from Race 9 to Race 12 of the season (Phillip Island and Barbagallo), and 13 podiums in 14 races, including a streak of eight-straight podiums, but before winning Race 29 at Pukekohe in New Zealand, McLaughlin had gone nine completed races without a race victory.

Conversely, Van Gisbergen started off the season superbly by winning the opening two races of the season in Adelaide, before going 15 races without win. After this barren run though, Van Gisbergen won four of the next five races from Race 18 to 22 of the championship (Townsville, Ipswich, Sydney Motorsport Park, and The Bend Motorsport Park), , and of course won Race 28 of the championship at Pukekohe in New Zealand to give us a titanic fight in Newcastle. Overall, Van Gisbergen has had seven wins and 17 podiums in 29 races coming into Newcastle.

During the season, McLaughlin and Van Gisbergen have finished first and second (in either order) in the same race five times in 2018, and with the championship battle set to be a “winner takes all” scenario, things are certain to heat up!

Looking at the Newcastle Street Circuit on paper, it is a circuit that should suit Triple Eight Race Engineering and the Holden ZB Commodore, given the lack of long, fast corners, and the point and squirt nature of the circuit.

However, despite street circuits typically lacking grip compared to your normal permanent venue, I expect the Newcastle Street Circuit to provide plenty of grip, which should suit DJR Team Penske and their Ford FG X Falcon beautifully, but on a circuit that I consider “The Monaco of the South”, anything can happen.

What also should be considered within the battle for the championship is the battle for third in the standings between Jamie Whincup (3175 points), Craig Lowndes (3117 points), and David Reynolds (2918 points), three drivers in strong cars who are capable of deciding who wins the championship.

Of course both Whincup and Lowndes are both teammates of Van Gisbergen, and will be looking to do what they can to help their Kiwi teammate claim his second championship. However, it will be an emotional weekend for Lowndes as he competes in what will be his final full-time Supercars Championship event, and the three-time Supercars champion will be looking to do what he can to beat seven-time Supercars champion Whincup into third in the championship, and maybe claim one last victory as a full-time driver.

Reynolds is the interesting one though, 257 points behind third-place Whincup and unlikely to get third, and 249 points ahead of sixth-place Chaz Mostert (2669 points) and unlikely to be surpassed for fifth in the championship, and the highest-ranked driver in the standings not associated with either Triple Eight Race Engineering or DJR Team Penske, so he is the most likely driver, along with Mostert that you think could sway the outcome of the championship one way or another.

So, what are the championship permutations?

For Saturday, only Scott McLaughlin can claim the championship over Shane Van Gisbergen with one race remaining:

  1. If McLaughlin finishes 1st or 2nd, and Van Gisbergen retires from the race.

I will update the championship permutations before Race 31 of the championship on Sunday morning should the battle continue through to Sunday.

So, who will win both races at the Newcastle 500, and who will claim the 2018 Supercars Championship?

I think if qualifying goes to the form book, I think Saturday’s race will be a largely normal race, and I think Shane Van Gisbergen will win Race 30 of the season, with Scott McLaughlin finishing second or third.

However, I think Sunday’s race, regardless of whether qualifying and the Top 10 Shootout goes to form or not, will be chaotic, and my gut feeling tells me something is going to happen between McLaughlin and Van Gisbergen that is going to decide the championship, and/or have major repercussions going forward.

However, regardless of what happens, I cannot wait to see what unfolds!

 

After Shane Van Gisbergen was given a post-race 25-second time penalty for a Breach of Rule D25.6.3.2. after Race 30 of the championship, dropping him from 1st to 5th, thus giving Scott McLaughlin his ninth race victory of the season, it means the championship picture has changed going into the final race of the season, with McLaughlin now having a 53-point lead in the standings over Van Gisbergen.

So, McLaughlin can win his first championship:

1. If McLaughlin finishes ahead of Van Gisbergen.

2. If Van Gisbergen wins the race, McLaughlin must finish 6th or higher.

3. If Van Gisbergen finishes 2nd, McLaughlin must finish 8th or higher.

4. If Van Gisbergen finishes 3rd, McLaughlin must finish 10th or higher.

5. If Van Gisbergen finishes 4th, McLaughlin must finish 12th or higher.

6. If Van Gisbergen finishes 5th, McLaughlin must finish 15th or higher.

7. If Van Gisbergen finishes 6th, McLaughlin must finish 18th or higher.

8. If Van Gisbergen finishes 7th, McLaughlin must finish 20th or higher.

9. If Van Gisbergen finishes 8th, McLaughlin must finish 22nd or higher.

10. If Van Gisbergen finishes 9th, McLaughlin must finish 24th or higher.

11. If Van Gisbergen finishes between 10th and 17th, McLaughlin must finish the race (26th or higher).

12. If Van Gisbergen finishes 18th or lower, McLaughlin is the CHAMPION!

 

Van Gisbergen can win his second championship:

1. If Van Gisbergen wins the race, McLaughlin must finish 7th or lower.

2. If Van Gisbergen finishes 2nd, McLaughlin must finish 9th or lower.

3. If Van Gisbergen finishes 3rd, McLaughlin must finish 11th or lower.

4. If Van Gisbergen finishes 4th, McLaughlin must finish 13th or lower.

5. If Van Gisbergen finishes 5th, McLaughlin must finish 16th or lower.

6. If Van Gisbergen finishes 6th, McLaughlin must finish 19th or lower.

7. If Van Gisbergen finishes 7th, McLaughlin must finish 21st or lower.

8. If Van Gisbergen finishes 8th, McLaughlin must finish 23rd or lower.

9. If Van Gisbergen finishes 9th, McLaughlin must finish 25th or lower.

10. If Van Gisbergen finishes between 10th and 17th, McLaughlin must not finish the race/not score points.

 

2018 Valencian GP (MotoGP) – Preview

After 18 rounds (17 races after the British Grand Prix didn’t get underway), and countless races that we will remember for a long time, the 2018 MotoGP World Championship comes to a conclusion at the final round (Round 19) at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, a chance to celebrate the season, and farewell a number of riders that will be leaving the MotoGP grid, including Scott Redding, Bradley Smith, Álvaro Bautista, Xavier Simeon, and the retiring Dani Pedrosa.

Pedrosa is the biggest name from this group of riders to be moving on from MotoGP after 54 wins (31 in MotoGP), 153 podiums (112 in MotoGP), 49 pole positions (31 in MotoGP), and 64 fastest laps (44 in MotoGP), claiming the 125cc World Championship in 2003, as well as the 250cc World Championship in 2004 and 2005, with a best championship finish in the MotoGP World Championship of second in 2007, 2010, and 2012, falling 18 points short of Jorge Lorenzo in 2012 after becoming the Repsol Honda Team’s main championship contender after the ankle injury suffered by Casey Stoner at Indianapolis.

Overall, Pedrosa has scored 4151 points across all classes (2959 points in MotoGP), and will start for the 295th and final time across all classes on Sunday (217th time in MotoGP).

However, that won’t be the only focal point in Valencia, and while Marc Márquez (321 points) and Andrea Dovizioso (220 points) have secured first and second in the world championship respectively, the battle for third is still alive between the two Movistar Yamaha MotoGP teammates in Valentino Rossi (195 points) and Maverick Viñales (193 points) in what is a “winner takes all” scenario in terms of finishing third in the championship in very simplistic terms, although it could be more complicated than that should they finish the race in Valencia down the field.

In addition to this, the fight for fifth in the world championship is still alive in what is also a “winner takes all” scenario between Álex Rins (149 points), Johann Zarco (149 points), and Danilo Petrucci (144 points). Cal Crutchlow (148 points) is in-between Zarco and Petrucci in the standings, but is out of Valencia after breaking his right ankle in Friday practice at Phillip Island.

Andrea Iannone (133 points) could also finish fifth in the world championship, as can Jorge Lorenzo (130 points), but both would need results to go their way to achieve that, while Dani Pedrosa (106 points) can still finish his final MotoGP season in 10th-place in the championship should he win in Valencia, and Lorenzo scores no points.

So, who will take out the final race of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship?

Judging by recent form, and his four wins from his last five races, it has to be Marc Márquez to claim what would be his 10th race victory of the season, and it would be just the second time in his premier class career, third across all classes, that he would have won 10 races or more in a single season.

I think on the podium with Márquez will be Andrea Dovizioso, while Dani Pedrosa will claim his first podium of 2018 in his final MotoGP race.

2018 Mackinnon Stakes – Preview

It is the final day of the 2018 Melbourne Cup Carnival, and after a wonderful three days, we head into the last day of the carnival with a couple of showpiece Group One’s left to run.

The VRC Sprint Classic, where defending champion and two-time winner of The Everest Redzel will be looking to secure his spot as the best current day sprinter, but faces strong opposition from the likes of Kementari, Pierata, and Santa Ana Lane.

And then the main race, the 2018 Mackinnon Stakes, where the Victoria Derby winner Extra Brut, and the Empire Rose Stakes winner Shillelagh will be chasing a rare Group One double at the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

It is set to be a great day, so here are my tips for the final day of the 2018 carnival.

 

Race 1. 12:15pm 1600m Melbourne’s Own 3AW Trophy

1st 7. Eshtiraak (3)

2nd 3. Manuel (1)

3rd 6. Call It a Day (6)

4th 2. Al Passem (4)

Race 2. 12:50pm 2000m Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Plate

1st 7. Danon Roman (JPN) (1)

2nd 5. Lucky For All (NZ) (7)

3rd 1. Lycurgus (3)

4th 11. Top Prospect (NZ) (5)

Race 3. 1:30pm 1400m Watch Racing.com Springtime Stakes

1st 4. Yulong January (3)

2nd 12. No Emotion (8)

3rd 13. Secret Vega (1)

4th 9. Wagner (13)

Race 4. 2:10pm 1400m DeRucci Chatham Stakes

1st 1. Widgee Turf (2)

2nd 4. Dreamforce (13)

3rd 10. Spectroscope (USA) (4)

4th 7. Mr Sneaky (5)

Race 5. 2:50pm 2600m Queen Elizabeth Stakes

1st 3. Lord Fandango (GER) (2)

2nd 7. Jaameh (IRE) (11)

3rd 13. Sully (NZ) (6)

4th 10. Sir Isaac Newton (GB) (5)

Race 6. 3:30pm 2000m 7News Matriarch Stakes

1st 14. Our Libretto (NZ) (6)

2nd 12. Aqua D’ivina (10)

3rd 15. Silent Roar (1)

4th 2. Savvy Coup (NZ) (15)

Race 7. 4:10pm 1200m VRC Sprint Classic

1st 3. Santa Ana Lane (5)

2nd 7. Kementari (9)

3rd 6. Pierata (3)

4th 1. Redzel (8)

Race 8. 4:55pm 2000m Seppelt Mackinnon Stakes

1st 5. Doubt Defying (10)

2nd 9. Extra Brut (9)

3rd 8. Shillelagh (NZ) (6)

4th 4. Trap for Fools (8)

Race 9. 5:45pm 1100m Grand Handicap

1st 7. Lagerfeld (4)

2nd 13. As It Lies (9)

3rd 11. Order of Command (1)

4th 16. Dennis (7)

Best of 2018 NRL season commentary – My full calls

Throughout 2018, I have called a number of National Rugby League (NRL) matches to attempt to showcase to you my commentary skills, including displaying to you the research that I do for matches, and I thought I give you the opportunity, just in case that you missed it, to relive my 2018 NRL calls in their entirety. I hope you all enjoy my calls!

 

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/03/19/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-one-and-round-two/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/04/02/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-three-and-round-four/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/04/14/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-five-and-round-six/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/04/23/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-seven/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/04/26/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-eight-anzac-day-cup/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/04/30/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-eight/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/05/08/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-nine/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/05/13/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-10/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/05/19/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-11-brisbane-broncos-vs-sydney-roosters/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/05/21/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-11-melbourne-storm-vs-manly-warringah-sea-eagles/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/05/28/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-12/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/06/02/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-13-south-sydney-rabbitohs-vs-cronulla-sutherland-sharks/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/06/10/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-14/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/06/16/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-15-sydney-roosters-vs-penrith-panthers/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/07/01/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-16/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/07/07/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-17-penrith-panthers-vs-nz-warriors/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/07/16/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-18/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/07/21/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-19-brisbane-broncos-vs-penrith-panthers/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/07/22/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-19-north-queensland-cowboys-vs-st-george-illawarra-dragons/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/07/29/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-20-melbourne-storm-vs-canberra-raiders/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/07/30/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-20-sydney-roosters-vs-st-george-illawarra-dragons/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/08/04/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-21-south-sydney-rabbitohs-vs-melbourne-storm/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/08/06/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-21-penrith-panthers-vs-canberra-raiders/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/08/12/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-22-south-sydney-rabbitohs-vs-sydney-roosters/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/08/13/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-22-melbourne-storm-vs-cronulla-sutherland-sharks/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/08/18/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-23-penrith-panthers-vs-newcastle-knights/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/08/19/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-23-canberra-raiders-vs-sydney-roosters/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/08/24/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-24-nz-warriors-vs-penrith-panthers/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/08/26/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-24-sydney-roosters-vs-brisbane-broncos/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/08/31/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-25-melbourne-storm-vs-penrith-panthers/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/09/01/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-round-25-newcastle-knights-vs-st-george-illawarra-dragons/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/09/07/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-qualifying-final-melbourne-storm-vs-south-sydney-rabbitohs/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/09/09/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-elimination-final-penrith-panthers-vs-nz-warriors/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/09/15/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-first-semi-final-cronulla-sutherland-sharks-vs-penrith-panthers/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/09/16/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-second-semi-final-south-sydney-rabbitohs-vs-st-george-illawarra-dragons/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/09/21/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-first-preliminary-final-melbourne-storm-vs-cronulla-sutherland-sharks/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/09/22/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-second-preliminary-final-sydney-roosters-vs-south-sydney-rabbitohs/

https://ryaneckfordsports.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/my-2018-nrl-commentary-samples-2018-nrl-grand-final-sydney-roosters-vs-melbourne-storm/

2018 VRC Oaks Day – Preview

It is the third day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, VRC Oaks Day, and what a day we have on the cards with Amphitrite the favourite for the Kennedy Oaks, but faces a strong challenge from the likes of Aristia, Qafila, Verry Elleegant, Zapurler, and Collectable among others.

And after Extra Brut won the Victoria Derby on Saturday, and Cross Counter became the first English-trained horse to win the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday, we are set for another great day at Flemington.

Here are my tips for today.

 

Race 1. 12:15pm 1000m Maribyrnong Plate

1st 5. Chicago Bull (6)

2nd 9. Vinicunca (4)

3rd 7. Art Collection (5)

4th 8. Knowles (1)

Race 2. 12:55pm 1700m DrinkWise Plate

1st 11. Wild Sea (20)

2nd 10. Global Sanction (8)

3rd 5. Hunboshi (NZ) (7)

4th 4. Guipure (11)

Race 3. 1:35pm 1800m Twitter Trophy

1st 12. Tan Tat Trusting (NZ) (3)

2nd 5. Al Galayel (IRE) (12)

3rd 13. Legale (10)

4th 3. A Shin Rook (JPN) (13)

Race 4. 2:15pm 1400m Off The Track Subzero Handicap

1st 3. Harbour Grey (NZ) (2)

2nd 12. Ivoryman (NZ) (1)

3rd 11. Don’t Blush Baby (14)

4th 10. Our Girl Silke (NZ) (7)

Race 5. 2:55pm 1600m Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Final

1st 13. Cochada (19)

2nd 1. Superhard (11)

3rd 14. Full of Theories (12)

4th 17. Triage (4) (EM1)

Race 6. 3:35pm 1000m Absolut Stakes

1st 5. I’ll Have a Bit (8)

2nd 3. Super Cash (11)

3rd 13. Written Choice (3)

4th 4. Kaepernick (17)

Race 7. 4:15pm 1800m TCL TV Stakes

1st 9. Vow And Declare (3)

2nd 8. Magnum Opus (9)

3rd 14. Waka (11)

4th 6. Junipal (13)

Race 8. 5:00pm 2500m Kennedy Oaks

1st 4. Verry Elleegant (NZ) (13)

2nd 10. Scamper (12)

3rd 12. Collectable (11)

4th 1. Amphitrite (5)

Race 9. 5:45pm 1100m World Horse Racing Roses Stakes

1st 18. The Closer (1)

2nd 11. Final Choice (9)

3rd 16. Bleu Roche (10)

4th 3. Humma Humma (15)

2018 Brazilian Grand Prix – Preview

It was a magnificent win for Max Verstappen at the Mexican Grand Prix, another tough race for Daniel Ricciardo ending in his eighth retirement of the season, but the biggest headline was Lewis Hamilton becoming just the third man after Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher to win five Formula One World Championships, an incredible achievement.

However, the focus now turns to the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in São Paulo, Brazil for the penultimate round, Round 20 of the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship, and a battle not only for the Constructors’ Championship, but also for third in the Drivers’ Championship.

Hamilton (358 points) became a five-time Formula One World Champion after his fourth-place finish in Mexico, a performance in any other circumstances would have been described as a lacklustre one, finishing 78.738 seconds behind race winner Verstappen, and the last car on the lead lap. Hamilton and Mercedes will be looking for a much better performance in the final two races of the season in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, two circuits which should suit Mercedes on paper much better.

Sebastian Vettel (294 points) has secured second in the world championship after finishing second in Mexico, which wasn’t enough to keep the championship battle going in his Ferrari, but the positive sign for the Prancing Horse is that Ferrari have regained the speed that they had before the flyaway races, winning in Austin with Kimi Räikkönen, and being the second-best car in Mexico behind Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer at a track which very much suited Red Bull.

Talking about Räikkönen (236 points), he leads a three-way battle for third in the world championship with Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas (227 points), and Verstappen (216 points), while Ricciardo (146 points) will finish 2018 in sixth after retiring for the second-straight week, this time due to a hydraulics failure.

Behind the top six in the championship, there is a huge scrap for seventh with Nico Hülkenberg (69 points), Sergio Pérez (57 points), Kevin Magnussen (53 points), Fernando Alonso (50 points), Esteban Ocon (49 points), and Carlos Sainz Jr. (45 points) all within 24 points of each other with two races remaining.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (585 points) could claim their fifth-straight championship Brazil, currently leading by 55 points over Ferrari (530 points). Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer (362 points) are locked-in for third with Renault (114 points) close to locking up fourth ahead of Haas-Ferrari (84 points).

Then beyond the top five, McLaren-Renault (62 points) are hanging onto sixth ahead of Force India-Mercedes (47 points), while a great battle continues for eighth in the championship with Sauber-Ferrari (36 points) overtaking Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (33 points), while Williams-Mercedes (seven points) will finish 10th in the Constructors’ Championship barring a minor miracle.

Looking at the championship permutations, Mercedes can claim the 2018 Constructors’ World Championship in Brazil if they are not out-scored by Ferrari by 13 points or more. If Ferrari finish first and second in São Paulo, the battle will go down to the final race in Abu Dhabi regardless of what Mercedes does. However, if one Mercedes driver finishes the Brazilian Grand Prix inside the top two, the other Mercedes driver must finish fifth or higher unless the first Mercedes driver win, with a Mercedes win being enough to clinch the Constructors’ Championship regardless of what Ferrari does.

And, we also have the battle for third in the championship on the line in Brazil, which can be decided in favour of Kimi Räikkönen:

  1. If Räikkönen wins the race, Bottas must finish 6th or lower.
  2. If Räikkönen finishes second, Bottas must finish 9th or lower, and Verstappen must finish 4th or lower.

So, who will win the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix?

In my opinion, I think Mercedes will return back to their best form, but I still suspect Ferrari will be with them in the battle for the victory at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace. Overall, I think Sebastian Vettel will find his best form to claim his sixth race win of the season, but I think the two Mercedes will be on the podium to claim their fifth-straight Constructors’ World Championship.