2019 Italian GP (MotoGP) – Preview

Marc Márquez took control of the French Grand Prix, and claimed his third race victory of the season, and his second in as many races to equal his current teammate Jorge Lorenzo in fourth on the all-time list for most premier class wins. However, with three Ducati bikes behind him at Le Mans, the threat to the defending world champion is ever real as the grid heads to the Mugello Circuit in Italy for Round Six of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship.

Márquez (95 points) leads the championship by eight points over Mission Winnow Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso (87 points), with Dovizioso looking primed for success at Mugello after winning there back in 2017, especially after finishing inside the Top Four after each of the opening five races of 2019, but still faces a tall order given the form Márquez has been in so far this year, despite the strengths of the Ducati being well-suited to Mugello.

Álex Rins (75 points) is third in the world championship for Team SUZUKI ECSTAR, 20 points behind Márquez after a shocking French Grand Prix, qualifying only in 19th, and finishing the race only in 10th, his worst result of the season, and his his worst result since last year’s Czech Republic Grand Prix, where he finished in 11th. Rins will need to better in Italy if he wants to stay in the championship fight.

Valentino Rossi (72 points) is three points behind Rins in fourth after finishing fifth at Le Mans, but he knows that Mugello is a great opportunity to score some big points, and with the exception of his first year in the premier class back in 2000, every time he has started and finished the Italian Grand Prix, he has finished inside the Top Six, winning at Mugello seven times (2002-2008) in the premier class. You feel though he really needs to win this weekend if he is to keep his hopes of winning an eighth premier class world championship alive.

Dovizioso’s teammate Danilo Petrucci (57 points) is fifth in the championship, and will be aiming for a podium, if not his first race victory of his career this weekend after finishing third at the French Grand Prix, while Jack Miller (42 points) will be looking continue his good form this weekend for Alma Pramac Racing as he aims to claim what would be the second win of his MotoGP career.

Behind the Top Six in the world championship, Cal Crutchlow (34 points) is seventh for LCR Honda after finishing ninth at Le Mans, followed by Franco Morbidelli (34 points) for Petronas Yamaha SRT, who finished in seventh, just behind Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Pol Espargaró (31 points), who finished the French Grand Prix in sixth in what was the team’s best-ever dry weather performance, while Rossi’s teammate Maverick Viñales (30 points) is in 10th in the championship as his inconsistent season so far continues.

Looking beyond the Top 10, we find Lorenzo (16 points) in 14th position in the standings, and without a Top 10 race finish in 2019, and it is now beyond bewildering as to why he is where he is right now! You have to wonder whether physically he is right, or whether the bike is being set-up right for him, or more specifically whether the set-up of the bike, which may be alright for someone like Márquez, isn’t the right set-up for Lorenzo, because when everything is right, Lorenzo is certainly not this far behind Márquez on a consistent basis. However, we all know he has a great record at Mugello, finishing inside the Top Two in nine of his last 10 races at Mugello, so if he is nowhere near this level this weekend, it will officially be a crisis, and a potentially hopeless situation for Lorenzo to lift himself from.

So, who will win the 2019 Italian Grand Prix?

This is a great opportunity for Ducati to claim a race victory, and although most people will favour either Andrea Dovizioso or Danilo Petrucci this weekend, I am going to predict a surprise race win for Jack Miller, despite his poor record at Mugello, just ahead of Marc Márquez, while Valentino Rossi will claim his 12th premier class podium at Mugello in third position in what will be an exciting race!

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2019 Monaco Grand Prix – Preview

Another race, another dominant performance from Mercedes, and a fifth-straight one-two finish with Lewis Hamilton finishing ahead of Valtteri Bottas after beating him off the line from second on the grid, while Ferrari continue to underperform in contrast to expectations prior to the season, and would need a massive change in fortune to get on terms with Mercedes when Round Six of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship gets underway from the iconic streets of Monaco.

However, before I move into more of the preview, I would like to pay tribute to former three-time world champion Niki Lauda, who has sadly passed away at the age of 70. Lauda was quite simply a Formula One legend, winning the world championship with Ferrari in 1975 and 1977, and one with McLaren in 1984, claiming 25 wins, 54 podiums, 24 pole positions, and 24 fastest laps across a 177 (171 starts) race career.

However, Lauda was also amazing in his entrepreneurial pursuits in the aviation industry in particular, but came back to work in Formula One later in his life, being employed as a consultant for Ferrari in the 1990s, and was the team principal of Jaguar from 2001 to 2002, but most successfully as non-executive chairman of Mercedes since September 2012, and played a huge role in the signing of Lewis Hamilton, and as they say in the classics, the rest is history! It was a life well lived, a winner, a fighter, a legend! The great Niki Lauda! Rest In Peace!

Looking ahead to the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix, Hamilton (112 points) leads the championship by seven points over his teammate Bottas (105 points) after his third race victory of the season, and the 76th win of his career. Hamilton will be looking to win the Monaco Grand Prix for the third time in tribute to the man who helped get him to Mercedes, while Bottas will be looking to bounce back after finishing second in Spain, and continue his sublime qualifying form, having taken pole position in each of the last three races.

Max Verstappen (66 points) is a distant third in the world championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda, 46 points behind the five-time world champion Hamilton, while Ferrari continue to struggle in contrast to their expectations with Sebastian Vettel (64 points) and Charles Leclerc (57 points) 48 and 55 points behind Hamilton respectively after the opening five races, and face an uphill battle to get somewhat back into contention for race wins, and the championship against the might of Mercedes.

However, the top five currently in the standings have finished inside the top five in each of the opening five races of 2019, and have pulled away from the rest of the grid, with Pierre Gasly (21 points), the teammate of Verstappen, now 36 points behind Leclerc in sixth in the world championship after a disappointing start to his time at Red Bull Racing-Honda.

Behind the top six in the championship, Kevin Magnussen (14 points) is seventh for  Haas-Ferrari, ahead of Sergio Pérez (13 points) for Racing Point-BWT Mercedes, while Kimi Räikkönen (13 points), and Lando Norris (12 points) complete the Top 10 in the standings for Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari, and McLaren-Renault respectively.

However, beyond the Top 10 in the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, we find last year’s Monaco Grand Prix winner in Daniel Ricciardo (six points) in 12th position in the standings for his new team Renault after just one points-scoring finish, which was back in the third race of the season in China, the 1000th race in Formula One history, wearing the Jack Brabham tribute helmet, but have largely struggled for speed, and have struggled to be regularly inside the Top 10.

So, how do I think Ricciardo is going to go in Monaco?

I think it is going to be tough for Ricciardo to win for a second-straight year on the streets of the principality, but I think he will be in the thick of things for a high points-scoring finish!

Looking at the Constructors Championship, Mercedes (217 points) lead by 96 points over Ferrari (121 points), with Red Bull Racing-Honda (87 points) in a comfortable third. Then in the battle of the rest, McLaren-Renault (22 points) is fourth ahead of Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (17 points), Haas-Ferrari (15 points), Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (13 points), Renault (12 points), and Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (six points), with Williams-Mercedes (zero points) sadly at the back of the field, and looking unlikely to score points anytime soon!

So, who is going to win the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix?

I feel like Mercedes have the strongest car to tackle the slow and tight corners around the streets of Monaco, ahead of Red Bull Racing-Honda, while the understeer balance in the Ferrari will hurt them this weekend, and certain teams, in particular Renault, will move up closer to the three front-running teams.

So with that, I am tipping Lewis Hamilton will win the Monaco Grand Prix for the third time, with Valtteri Bottas coming home in second, while Max Verstappen will grab his first Monaco podium in Formula One ahead of the amazing Daniel Ricciardo in a brilliant fourth!

2019 French GP (MotoGP) – Preview

Marc Márquez got the swift redemption that he was looking for after crashing out of the Grand Prix of the Americas by winning the Spanish Grand Prix for the second-straight year, and for just the third time in his career, Álex Rins backed up his first MotoGP victory, which he achieved at the Circuit of the Americas by finishing second behind his fellow Spaniard at the Circuito de Jerez-Ángel Nieto, while Maverick Viñales got his first podium of the season, and his first since winning in Australia last year as he attempts to bounce back after his awful start to 2019.

However, the struggles continued for Jorge Lorenzo at home, finishing only 12th, and he will be desperate to change his fortunes very quickly as the 2019 MotoGP World Championship heads to the Circuit Bugatti in Le Mans in France for Round Five of the championship, the 2019 French Grand Prix.

Márquez (70 points) re-takes the lead of the world championship for the Repsol Honda Team by a single point over Team SUZUKI ECSTAR rider Rins (69 points) after claiming his 46th MotoGP victory, and his 72nd race victory across all classes. Márquez is just one win away from moving into equal-fourth for most premier class victories alongside his current teammate Lorenzo.

Meanwhile, Rins extended his streak of Top Five finishes to eight after claiming his second podium of the season. Rins has now achieved Top Five finishes in 10 of his last 11 races, but needs to qualify a little bit closer to the front if he is to challenge Márquez on a consistent basis.

Andrea Dovizioso (67 points) is third in the championship for Mission Winnow Ducati after a second-straight fourth-place finish in 2019 at the Circuito de Jerez-Ángel Nieto, but will be feeling optimistic about his chances over the course of the next three races, maybe not necessarily at Le Mans, but certainly at Mugello and Barcelona, circuits which should suit the characteristics of the Ducati extremely well.

Valentino Rossi (61 points) is fourth in the championship for Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP after finishing a difficult race in sixth after starting the Spanish Grand Prix in 13th after failing to qualify into the second part (Q2) of qualifying. He is 20 points ahead of Dovizioso’s teammate in Danilo Petrucci (41 points) in the standings after the Ducati rider continued his consistent run in 2019 by finishing in fifth-place in Jerez de la Frontera after finishing in sixth in each of the opening three races.

Rossi’s teammate Viñales (30 points) is just 11 points behind Petrucci after finishing third in Spain, but is already 40 points behind Márquez, and his hopes of claiming his first MotoGP World Championship in 2019 almost gone. However, Viñales is certainly capable of winning in France just like he did back in 2017, but he needs to qualify well, and most importantly start well to give himself the best possible chance.

Jack Miller (29 points) is seventh in the world championship for Alma Pramac Racing despite crashing out of the Spanish Grand Prix, and is ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (29 points) in the standings by virtue of his third-place finish at the Grand Prix of the Americas.

Nakagami’s LCR Honda teammate Cal Crutchlow (27 points) is ninth in the championship just two points behind his teammate after finishing eighth at the Circuito de Jerez-Ángel Nieto, while Franco Morbidelli (25 points) completes the Top 10 in the standings by finishing the Spanish Grand Prix in seventh for Petronas Yamaha SRT.

However, it was heartbreak for Morbidelli’s teammate Fabio Quartararo (17 points), who after becoming the youngest rider to claim pole position in the history of the premier class, was running in a comfortable second behind Márquez before a gearbox issue struck on Lap 14, ending his chances of a first MotoGP podium and leaving him in 13th position in the world championship.

Immediately behind Quartararo in the standings, it is Lorenzo (11 points), who had an absolutely awful race in Jerez de la Frontera, finishing 12th and 18.473 behind his teammate and race winner Márquez, and looking like a shadow of the rider that has won five world championships, including three in the premier class, and really needs to do some serious soul searching if he wants to return to the level of rider we all know that he can be!

However, Lorenzo has finished inside the Top Seven in all of his MotoGP races at the Circuit Bugatti, and has finished inside the Top Two in nine of his last 10 races at Mugello, so if he doesn’t perform well at either, if not both, of those two races, there will be some serious question marks regarding Lorenzo’s future.

So, who will win the 2019 French Grand Prix?

I think the safest bet will be Marc Márquez, but I think Álex Rins on the Suzuki, Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales on the Yamaha, as well as Andrea Dovizioso on the Ducati will be his closest challengers in Le Mans.