NBC Sports IndyCar coverage from Brazil announced

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NBC Sports Network continues coverage of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series this weekend, with the Sao Paulo Indy 300 live on Sunday, May 5, at 11 a.m. ET. Coverage begins on Sunday, May 5, at 1 a.m. with qualifying. IndyCar 36 returns at 6:30 p.m. ET on Saturday with an inside look at Charlie Kimball, the first licensed driver with diabetes in the history of IndyCar to compete at the most elite level of the series.

IZOD IndyCar Series leader Helio Castroneves returns to his hometown of Sao Paulo as he aims to extend his series lead against Japanese driver Takuma Sato, who ranks second after a win at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Three-time defending Sao Paulo champion Will Power drives for a fourth straight win in Brazil, while 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series champion and Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay looks to get back in the winner’s circle.

COMMENTATORS: NBC Sports Network’s IndyCar booth features lead voice Leigh Diffey, analyst Townsend Bell, and reporters Jon Beekhuis and Robin Miller covering from Indianapolis, Ind. Veteran Kevin Lee will report from pit road in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

INDYCAR 36NBC Sports Network offers motorsports fans another episode of the all-access series IndyCar 36. This week the cameras follow California driver Charlie Kimball, who races for Chip Ganassi Racing, and competes despite being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

The NBC Sports Network original series is produced by IMS Productions and gives viewers an all-access pass into the life of a world-class driver in the middle of race season. The cameras will follow a driver for 36 hours during a race weekend providing a behind-the-scenes look at the on- and off-track activities of the stars of the IndyCar Series. The all-access 36 series also includesNHL 36, Fight Night 36 and F1 36.

Date Event Time (ET)
Sat., May 4 IndyCar 36: Charlie Kimball 6:30 p.m.
Sun., May 5 Sao Paulo Qualifying 1 a.m.
Sun., May 5 Sao Paulo Indy 300 11 a.m.
Mon., May 6 Sao Paulo Indy 300 Encore 1 a.m.

IZOD INDYCAR ON NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA: NBC Sports Live Extra — NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, and tablets — will live stream the Sao Paulo Indy 300 at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, May 5. The race will be streamed via “TV Everywhere,” the media industry’s effort to make quality content available to authenticated customers both in and out of the home and on multiple platforms.

For desktops, NBC Sports Live Extra can be accessed at NBCSports.com/liveextra. The NBC Sports Live Extra app for mobile devices and tablets is available at the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and on select Android handset and tablet devices within Google Play.

MOTORSPORTSTALK: MotorSportsTalk (@MotorSportsTalk) on NBCSports.com brings racing fans up-to-the-minute news, video and information on the IZOD IndyCar Series, Formula One, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and all other motorsports racing from around the world. The site also serves as the destination for all news, analysis and video from NBC and NBC Sports Network productions of IndyCar and F1, including contributions from on-air commentators.

For more information about NBC Sports Group shows and properties, including press releases, photos, talent and executive bios and headshots, please visit NBCSportsGroupPressBox.com.

Street race in Vietnam could lead Formula One’s Asia expansion

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TOKYO (AP) — Formula One is expected to add more races in Asia, including a street circuit in the capital of Vietnam, a country with little auto racing history that is on the verge of getting a marquee event.

“We think Hanoi could come on in the next couple of years, and we’re working with the Hanoi government to that end,” Sean Bratches, Formula One’s managing director of commercial operations, told the Associated Press.

There is even speculation it could be on the schedule next season, which Bratches rebuffed.

Vietnam would join countries like Azerbaijan, Russia and Bahrain, which have Grand Prix races, little history in the sport, and authoritarian governments with deep pockets that serve F1 as it tries to expand into new markets.

“This (Hanoi) is a street race where we can go downtown, where we can activate a large fan base,” Bratches said. “And you have extraordinary iconography from a television standpoint.”

A second race in China is also likely and would join Shanghai on the F1 calendar. Bratches said deciding where to stage the GP will “be left to local Chinese partners” – Beijing is a strong candidate.

Bratches runs the commercial side of Formula One, which was acquired last year by U.S.-based Liberty Media from long-time operator Bernie Ecclestone.

Formula One’s long-term goal is to have 24-25 races – up from the present 21 – and arrange them in three geographical segments: Asia, Europe and the Americas. Bratches said the Europe-based races would stay in middle of the calendar, with Asia or the Americas opening or ending the season.

He said their positioning had not been decided, and getting this done will be slowed by current contracts that mandate specific places on the calendar for several races. This means eventually that all the races in Asia would be run together, as would races in Europe and the Americas.

The F1 schedule is now an inefficient jumble, allowing Bratches to take a good-natured poke at how the sport was run under Ecclestone.

“We’ve acquired an undermanaged asset that’s 67-years-old, but effectively a start-up,” Bratches said.

Early-season races in Australia and China this year were conducted either side of a trip to Bahrain in the Middle East. Late in the season Formula One returns to Asia with races in Japan and Singapore.

The Canadian GP this season is run in the middle of the European swing, separated by four months from the other races in the Americas – the United States, Mexico and Brazil. These three are followed by the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, which means another trip across the globe.

“With the right economics, with the right structure and cadence of events across territories, 24 or 25 is probably where we’d like to be from a longer-term standpoint,” Bratches said.

Big changes are not likely to happen until the 2020 season ends. This is when many current rules and contracts expire as F1’s new owners try to redistribute some income to allow smaller teams to compete.

“There’s more interest than we have capacity in the schedule,” Bratches said, firing off Berlin, Paris or London as potentially attractive venues. “We want to be very selective.”

“Those cites from an economic impact standpoint would find us value, as do others around the world,” Bratches added. “It’s very important for us as we move forward to go to locations that are a credit to the Formula One brand.”

An expanded schedule would have to be approved by the teams, which will be stretched by the travel and the wear-and-tear on their crews. The burden will fall on the smaller teams, which have significantly smaller revenue compared with Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull.

Bratches also envisions another race in the U.S., joining the United States Grand Prix held annually in Austin, Texas. A street race in Miami is a strong candidate, as are possible venues like Las Vegas or New York.

“We see the United States and China as countries that could support two races,” he said.

Liberty Media has reported Formula One’s total annual revenue at $1.8 billion, generated by fees paid by promoters, broadcast rights, advertising and sponsorship. Race promotion fees also tend to be higher in Asia, which makes the area attractive – along with a largely untapped fan base.

In a four-year cycle, F1 generates more revenue than FIFA or the International Olympic Committee, which rely almost entirely on one-time showcase events.

Reports suggest Vietnamese promoters may pay between $50-60 million annually as a race fee, with those fees paid by the government. Bratches said 19 of 21 Formula One races are supported by government payments.

“The race promotion fee being derived from the government … is a model that has worked historically,” Bratches said.