Hildebrand helps Pagenaud learn art of the first pitch (VIDEO)

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Following the completion of Bump Day today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the 33 starters in the Indianapolis 500 field will fan out across North America to promote next weekend’s big race.

You can expect to see a few of the big-name drivers make their way across morning television shows and major newspapers in the next couple of days. But the driver with perhaps the neatest perk in all of this is Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports’ Simon Pagenaud, who will be throwing out the first pitch in Milwaukee as the Brewers host the Los Angeles Dodgers at Miller Park.

Ceremonial first pitches can be a tricky business, of course. Getting the ball over the plate would seem simple enough, but it’s not when you have tens of thousands of people watching you. And you certainly can’t chuck it into the dirt and make yourself look bad.

Luckily for the Frenchman, he was able to get a lesson from Panther Racing’s J.R. Hildebrand (pictured) — who recently threw out the first pitch at a Detroit Tigers game while on promotion duties for the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit at Belle Isle Park (the next race following the “500”).

Long before he stepped into the cockpit of the No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet, Hildebrand — who is well-known for his allegiance to the San Francisco Giants — played varsity baseball in his high school years out in California, so he knows a thing or two about the grand old game. Check out the video above to see him give some baseball wisdom to IndyCar’s reigning rookie of the year.

F1 2017 driver review: Esteban Ocon

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Esteban Ocon

Team: Sahara Force India
Car No.: 31
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P5 (Spain, Mexico)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 87
Championship Position: 8th

A shining star in Mercedes’ junior programme, Esteban Ocon vaulted fellow youngster Pascal Wehrlein in the pecking order to secure a seat at Force India for 2017 – and boy, did he live up to the hype.

Ocon arrived at Force India with half a season of racing under his belt after his outings with Manor late in 2016, but wasted little time in settling in, scoring points on debut in Australia after winning a thrilling three-way fight with Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso.

The Frenchman spent much of the year close to teammate Sergio Perez – even if things did get a little too close in Canada, Baku and, finally, Spa, prompting the team to introduce team orders – and impressed the entire paddock with his displays.

While no podium was forthcoming, Ocon was often leading the midfield fight, enjoying three straight finishes ahead of Perez from Japan to Mexico. Given how well Perez is rated on-track in the paddock, to have convincingly beaten him in such fashion did a lot for Ocon’s reputation.

The term ‘Oconsistency’ also came into F1’s dictionary as he set a new record for consecutive finishes from his first race, with his retirement in Brazil ending the streak at 27 grands prix. It was also his first retirement in a single-seater race since the 2014 Macau Grand Prix.

The highlight moment arguably came at Monza, though, when Ocon stuck his Force India third on the grid through torrential rain in qualifying. While he would drop to P6 at the checkered flag, the display nevertheless cemented his place as one of F1’s rising stars.

Mercedes rates Ocon very highly, and with Valtteri Bottas’ future beyond 2018 already being questioned by the paddock, a good season could see the youngster move on up to the top table of F1 for 2019. His progression in the next 12 months will be fascinating to keep track of.

Season High: Lining up P3 on the grid at Monza after a rainy qualifying.

Season Low: Clashing with Perez in Baku, costing Force India a possible podium.