My 2019 NRL commentary samples (2019 GB Lions Tour – Second Test Match – New Zealand vs. Great Britain)

 

2019 United States Grand Prix – Preview

Despite expectations of not being as competitive compared to their rivals, Lewis Hamilton delivered Mercedes a wonderful victory at the 2019 Mexico Grand Prix, his 10th for the season, the 83rd of his career, and is now very much on the verge, if he wasn’t already, of becoming a six-time world champion as the grid heads to the Circuit of the Americas for the 2019 United States Grand Prix, Round 19 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Hamilton (363 points) leads the championship by 74 points over teammate Valtteri Bottas (289 points) after a brilliant drive at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, with Mercedes outsmarting Ferrari on strategy to allow Hamilton to jump ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the battle for the win, and Bottas to move, and then stay ahead of Charles Leclerc in the fight for third.

With that result for Hamilton, he has an even better opportunity to move to within one of Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championships this weekend if (and please note that you must finish inside the Top 10 in the race to claim a point for setting the fastest lap):

1. If Bottas wins the race (with the fastest lap), Hamilton must finish 8th or higher.

2. If Bottas wins the race (without the fastest lap), Hamilton must finish 9th (with the fastest lap if he finishes in 9th) or higher.

3. If Bottas finishes second or lower (with or without the fastest lap).

Behind the Top Two in the championship, Leclerc (236 points) sits in third in the standings for Ferrari, six points ahead of teammate Vettel (230 points) after finishing a disappointing fourth in the end at the Mexico Grand Prix after inheriting pole position from Red Bull Racing-Honda driver Max Verstappen, his seventh for the season, which means he cannot be overtaken for most pole positions in 2019, but Ferrari must review and rectify their inability to convert pole positions, and front row starts in victories in the last three races of 2019 if they are going to give themselves the best chance of success against Mercedes in 2020.

Verstappen (220 points) is fifth in the world championship after a disappointing Mexico Grand Prix after firstly being stripped of pole position after failing to adhere to the yellow flag after the Bottas accident, followed by a scruffy opening lap of the race, and then being forced to pit at the end of Lap Five after suffering a tyre puncture after the front wing of Bottas’ car made contact with the right rear tyre on Lap Four, but managed to fight his way back to finish in sixth.

The circumstances surrounding Verstappen being stripped of pole position, and the subsequent three-place grid penalty, will be something that he will learn from going forward, but the race stewards should have reported the incident earlier than they did, and quite possibly, both Verstappen and the race stewards should have taken into account that Verstappen would have still been on pole position even if that final lap wasn’t completed, and you would hope that both parties will learn from this experience going forward.

Behind Verstappen in the championship, there is a huge three-way battle for sixth between Pierre Gasly (77 points) from Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, Carlos Sainz Jr. (76 points) from McLaren-Renault, and Alexander Albon (74 points) from Red Bull Racing-Honda, although you sense that Albon will be the favourite to take sixth by the end of the season due to the superior car that he has underneath him, compared to the Toro Rosso and McLaren.

Racing Point-BWT Mercedes driver Sergio Pérez (43 points), and Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo (38 points) complete the Top 10 in the standings after both achieved points-scoring finishes in Mexico.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (652 points), who are just four points from surpassing their points tally of 2018 (655), and 17 points from surpassing their points tally of 2017 (668), lead by 186 points over Ferrari (466 points), with Ferrari being 125 points ahead of Red Bull Racing-Honda (341 points) with three races remaining.

Ferrari can claim second in the Constructors’ Championship for the third-straight season, and the fourth time in the last five years if Red Bull Racing-Honda don’t outscore Ferrari in the United States by 37 points or more.

Behind the Top Three, McLaren-Renault (111 points) are heading towards fourth in the championship, ahead of Renault (73 points), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (64 points), and Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (64 points) battling for fifth, with Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (35 points), Haas-Ferrari (28 points), and Williams-Mercedes (one point) rounding out the field.

So, who will win the 2019 United States Grand Prix?

This should be a great race, like last year, and while Ferrari have had the one lap speed advantage over Mercedes since the mid-season break, you sense it will be Mercedes with the fastest race car this weekend, and I think Lewis Hamilton will claim his sixth Formula One World Championship in style!

2019 Malaysian GP (MotoGP) – Preview

The margin won’t say so, but the 2019 Australian Grand Prix was one of the best races of the year, with plenty of battles at the front of the field before it became a battle between Marc Márquez and Maverick Viñales, with Márquez shadowing Viñales for a number of laps until the final lap, when Márquez made his move, passing Viñales on the Gardner Straight/into the Doohan Corner (Turn One).

Viñales tried all he could to overtake Márquez, but crashed out on the final lap entering the braking zone of Turn 10, throwing away a certain podium, and Márquez went onto claim his third win at Phillip Island, his 11th for the season, and the 55th of his premier class career, overtaking Mick Doohan into third on the all-time premier class winners list.

However, there is still plenty on the line for not only Márquez, but also the rest of his rivals as we head into the penultimate round, the 2019 Malaysian Grand Prix, Round 18 of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship.

Márquez (375 points) leads the championship for the Repsol Honda Team by 135 points over Andrea Dovizioso (240 points) from Mission Winnow Ducati after winning in Australia, and despite having the world championship well and truly wrapped up, Márquez still has plenty to play for, including equalling his win tally from 2014 of 13, as well as the record for the most points in a premier class season, Márquez currently just eight points away from Jorge Lorenzo’s record of 383 points that was set back in 2010, and the biggest world championship winning margin, with the Spaniard’s lead just 12 points away from Valentino Rossi’s record winning margin of 147 points set back in 2005 when the great Italian was at the peak of his powers.

Meanwhile, Dovizioso has secured second in the championship for the third-straight season in what has been a difficult season overall with two races remaining.

Behind the Top Two though, it is a giant battle for third in the standings between Álex Rins (183 points) from Team SUZUKI ECSTAR, Viñales (176 points) from Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, Danilo Petrucci (169 points) from Mission Winnow Ducati, and Fabio Quartararo (163 points) from Petronas Yamaha SRT.

However, the only rider to finish the 2019 Australian Grand Prix from these four riders was Rins, who finished in a lowly ninth after another disappointing qualifying session, qualifying 12th in a performance symptomatic of his season, and his performance over one lap is something that must be addressed if he is to ever challenge for a MotoGP World Championship.

Behind those four, Valentino Rossi (153 points) from Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, Jack Miller (141 points) from Alma Pramac Racing, and Cal Crutchlow (133 points) from LCR Honda are still in the hunt for third in the championship, but it will be a tall order for those three to challenge the four ahead of them in the standings for third.

However, the performances of Crutchlow in finishing second, and Miller in finishing in third at Phillip Island were simply magnificent, and they will be hoping to take this form into the final two races of 2019.

Behind them, Franco Morbidelli (105 points) closes out the Top 10 for Petronas Yamaha SRT.

In terms of the Teams’ Championship, the Repsol Honda Team (408 points) are somehow, thanks largely to the performances of Márquez, just a single point behind Mission Winnow Ducati (409 points) heading into the final two races as Honda look to win the Riders’, Constructors’, and Teams’ championships.

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

There is only one rider that you could tip with confidence, supreme confidence, to win this weekend, and is probably in his best form since the first 10 races of 2014. It has got to be Marc Márquez to claim his sixth-straight race victory, and win the Malaysian Grand Prix for just the third time in the premier class.

2019 Mexico Grand Prix – Preview

It was a magnificent, but more importantly a morale-boosting performance from Valtteri Bottas to claim the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix, his third race victory of the season, and is now the only driver that can challenge Lewis Hamilton for the 2019 championship, which means for the first time in Formula One history, a team, which in this case is Mercedes, will win six-consecutive driver and constructor championships after Mercedes claimed their sixth-straight Constructors’ Championship at Suzuka!

However, with Ferrari showing fantastic speed over one lap, and Red Bull Racing-Honda normally very strong at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, there will be a lot of factors for Mercedes to deal with as we head into Round 18 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, the 2019 Mexico Grand Prix.

Hamilton (338 points) leads the championship by 64 points over his Mercedes’ teammate Bottas (274 points), the only driver that can challenge Hamilton for the world championship, and this weekend, Hamilton can move to within one of Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championships if (and please note that you must finish inside the Top 10 in the race to claim a point for setting the fastest lap):

1. Hamilton wins the race (with the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes fourth or lower.

2. Hamilton wins the race (without the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes fifth or lower (with or without the fastest lap).

3. Hamilton finishes 2nd (with or without the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes eighth or lower (without the fastest lap).

4. Hamilton finishes 2nd (without the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes ninth or lower (with or without the fastest lap).

5. Hamilton finishes 3rd (with the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes ninth or lower.

6. Hamilton finishes 3rd (without the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes 10th or lower (without the fastest lap).

However, you sense it is going to be uphill struggle for Hamilton and Mercedes this weekend given the challenges they have had in recent times at high altitude in Mexico, which could very well mean that the championship goes onto the Circuit of the Americas the week after the Mexico Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc (221 points) is third in the championship, and the best of the rest for Ferrari despite finishing the Japanese Grand Prix in seventh after fighting back through the field after colliding with Max Verstappen on the opening lap, forcing Leclerc to come into the pits to change his front wing.

Verstappen (212 points) is still fourth in the standings for Red Bull Racing-Honda despite having to retire from the race at Suzuka due to damage suffered to his car after the collision with Leclerc. Vettel (212 points) is now level on points with Verstappen for Ferrari after finishing second behind Bottas in Japan, but still trails Verstappen in the championship due to having more wins than Vettel (two wins to one).

Behind the Top Five in the world championship, Carlos Sainz Jr. (76 points) is sixth in the world championship for McLaren-Renault, followed by Pierre Gasly (75 points) and Alexander Albon (64 points) for Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, who will be changing their name to Scuderia Alpha Tauri-Honda in 2020, and Red Bull Racing-Honda respectively, while Sergio Pérez (37 points) for Racing Point-BWT Mercedes and Lando Norris (35 points) for McLaren-Renault complete the Top 10 in the standings following the disqualifications of both Renault drivers (Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg) from the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix after both cars were found to have had illegal pre-set, automated brake bias system after a protest by Racing Point-BWT Mercedes.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (612 points) have claimed their sixth-consecutive title, and have an unassailable 177-point lead over Ferrari (435 points), who have a 112-point lead over Red Bull Racing-Honda (323 points). Ferrari can claim second in the 2019 Constructors’ Championship this weekend if they outscore Red Bull Racing-Honda by 21 points or more.

Behind the Top Three, McLaren-Renault (111 points) have increased their grip on fourth, while Renault (68 points), after the disqualifications of both their cars from the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix, are slipping back into the clutches of Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (62 points), and Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (58 points), with Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (35 points) and Haas-Ferrari (28 points) in a battle for eighth, while Williams-Mercedes (one point) look set to remain in last barring a minor miracle in the last four races.

So, who will win the 2019 Mexico Grand Prix?

Mercedes have a poor recent record at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez due to the track characteristics in part, but more specifically the higher than usual altitude, which affects the usual cooling package of their car, meaning that they have to allow more air into the car to cool various components, including components within the power-unit, thus reducing the overall performance of the car.

With that being the case, I look towards both Ferrari and Red Bull Racing-Honda, and while Ferrari have shown a great upturn in form since the mid-season break generally, I am going to tip Max Verstappen to grab his third race victory of 2019, and place heavy pressure on Charles Leclerc in the battle for third in the world championship.

And, with that, the championship battle between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will continue onto the United States!

2019 Australian GP (MotoGP) – Preview

It was another well-managed race by Marc Márquez at Motegi to claim the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix, and in the process helped Honda to their fourth-consecutive Constructors’ Championship, their eighth in nine seasons, and their 25th overall in the premier class.

However, with Márquez just 33 points behind the record for most points scored in a season, a record incidentally held by his current teammate Jorge Lorenzo (383 points), which was set back in 2010, and the Teams’ Championship very much up for grabs for the Repsol Honda Team, and Mission Winnow Ducati, there is still a lot to play for as the grid heads to Australia, and to the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit for the 2019 Australian Grand Prix, Round 17 of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship.

Márquez (350 points) leads by 119 points for the Repsol Honda Team over Andrea Dovizioso (231 points) from Mission Winnow Ducati, who looks as if he has got second in the championship under complete control, and can officially secure second in the standings for the third-straight season if he can not be outscored by Álex Rins and Maverick Viñales by five points or more, by Danilo Petrucci by 12 points or more, and by Fabio Quartararo by 18 points or more.

Behind the Top Two in the standings, there is a four-way battle developing for third in the championship between Rins, Viñales, Petrucci, and Quartararo.

Rins (176 points) is third in the world championship for Team SUZUKI ECSTAR, level on points with Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP rider Viñales (176 points), but ahead of Viñales on the basis of having two wins to the lone race victory that Viñales had at Assen.

Petrucci (169 points) is fifth in the championship for Mission Winnow Ducati after a seventh-straight finish outside of the Top Five, while the rapidly-rising Quartararo (163 points) is sixth in the standings for Petronas Yamaha SRT after a second-straight podium finish, his fourth in six races, including three in his last four.

Valentino Rossi (145 points) is seventh in the world championship for Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP after suffering his fourth Did Not Finish (DNF) result of the season, the most DNF results he has had in a season in the premier class, with Jack Miller (125 points) in eighth for Alma Pramac Racing, Cal Crutchlow (113 points) in ninth for LCR Honda, and Franco Morbidelli (100 points) completing the Top 10 in the championship for Petronas Yamaha SRT.

As far as the Teams’ Championship is concerned, the Repsol Honda Team (383 points) is remarkably 17 points behind Mission Winnow Ducati (400 points) with three races remaining in a battle which will surely go down to the final race in Valencia.

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

On paper, Phillip Island should suit Marc Márquez perfectly, but has only won twice at Phillip Island in the premier class, and despite the fact it should suit him, the track characteristics of Phillip Island tend to bring the grid closer together, and make it such a tight fight.

Outside of Márquez, the rider that is deserving of a race victory in 2019 is Fabio Quartararo, especially after claiming the Rookie of the Year award last weekend in Motegi, and if Márquez isn’t the one to claim victory this weekend, I think Quartararo will claim his first premier class race victory.