NBC Sports to feature 19.5 hours of Monaco coverage, with race live on NBC

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For the first time, Formula One’s famed Monaco Grand Prix will air live on network television Sunday, May 26 at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBC. NBC Sports Group will present a total of 19.5 hours of Monaco coverage from Thursday to Sunday, May 23-26, across NBC, NBC Sports Network and NBC Sports Live Extra. Race day, Sunday May 26, will begin with a live pre-race show at 7 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Network, “Mimosas from Monaco,” and conclude with F1 Extra, NBC Sports Network’s half-hour post-race show, live from Monaco after the race.

Coverage from Monaco also includes live practice, qualifying and GP2 races on NBC Sports Network. Practice will air live on Thursday, May 23, at 8 a.m. ET. Qualifying will air live on Saturday, May 25, at 8 a.m. ET. In addition, NBC Sports Network will air two GP2 races, F1’s developmental series, at 12 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 26.

NBC Sports Group’s Monaco Grand Prix Coverage (subject to change):

Date Coverage Network Time (ET)
Thurs., May 23 Practice NBCSN 8 a.m.
Fri., May 24 Practice Encore NBCSN 1:30 a.m.
Fri., May 24 Practice Encore NBCSN 11:30 p.m.
Sat., May 25 Qualifying NBCSN 8 a.m.
Sat., May 25 Qualifying Encore NBCSN 10:30 p.m.
Sun., May 26 GP2 Race 1 NBCSN 12 a.m.
Sun., May 26 Pre-Race Show NBCSN 7 a.m.
Sun., May 26 Monaco Grand Prix NBC 7:30 a.m.
Sun., May 26 F1 Extra NBCSN 10 a.m.
Sun., May 26 Monaco Grand Prix Encore NBCSN 10:30 a.m.
Sun., May 26 F1 Extra Encore NBCSN 1 p.m.
Sun., May 26 GP2 Race 2 NBCSN 1:30 p.m.
Sun., May 26 Monaco Grand Prix Encore NBCSN 10:30 p.m.

COMMENTATORS ON SITE: NBC Sports Group’s F1 announce booth will be on site to capture the unique glitz-and-glamour atmosphere of the Monaco Grand Prix. Leigh Diffey will serve as lead race announcer alongside veteran analyst and former racecar driver David Hobbs, analyst and former race mechanic for the Benetton F1 team Steve Matchett, and F1 insider and journalist Will Buxton.

ON MONACO:

Diffey: “Monaco is so special because people want to see something they can’t believe they are seeing, and that is the Monaco Grand Prix in a nutshell. It is an unbelievable spectacle. Cars that are way too fast for the track they are racing on, a track way too narrow for the speed of the cars. The element of danger is way too high for the modern day sport. But that is why Monaco is Monaco.”

Hobbs: “Monaco is one of the older races on the calendar and the circuit has changed very little over the nearly 90 years of running. Monaco is built around a fabulous natural harbor filled with the world’s most expensive yachts and a backdrop of gorgeous mountains. Throw in 20 or so multimillionaire drivers, team owners and top technicians in the most glamorous spot in the world, spiced with high danger content, and you end up with the most unique weekend of any sporting event in the world.”

ON THE RACE:

Diffey: “The form guide over the past three years screams Infiniti Red Bull Racing, but if you base it on the last Grand Prix everything points at Ferrari. With that being said, the Mercedes AMG Petronas team has shown incredible qualifying speed this year and qualifying well at Monaco is paramount.”

Hobbs: “This is the race all drivers and teams want to win. It has that extra something driven by its vintage location and crowd. It is a difficult race between very unforgiving walls, miles of guardrail, tightness of the turns and the narrow width of the road. It’s a tiring event for drivers and controlled aggression is key for a driver. Go fast, but keep off the walls.”

ON THE DRIVERS:

Diffey: “Over the last seven years there are only two drivers who have won more than once. Mark Webber has won two of the last three years and Fernando Alonso won back to back in 2006-07. Drivers who like Monaco always do well there and those guys are definitely in that group.”

Hobbs: “This year is proving to be very competitive. Team Ferrari is on a roll and Fernando Alonso, previous winner in Monaco, always goes well here. Red Bull and Mark Webber, two-time Monaco winner will go well – their car is suited to most tracks. Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus should shine here, and Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes is fast every time he comes here.

NBC SPORTS DIGITAL & SOCIAL COVERAGE

F1 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 Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday, May 26, as well as qualifying on Saturday, May 25, and practice on Thursday, May 23. A vast majority of coverage 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.

Coverage airing on:

  • NBC will live stream to PCs, mobile devices and tablets through NBC Sports Live Extra;
  • NBC Sports Network will live stream to PCs, mobile devices and tablets through NBC Sports Live Extra, and to the digital platforms of participating cable, satellite, and telco services, via “TV Everywhere,” which is available on an authenticated basis to subscribers of participating MVPDs.

F1 ON MOTORSPORTSTALK: MotorSportsTalk (@MotorSportsTalk) on NBCSports.com brings racing fans up-to-the-minute news, video and information on Formula One™, IZOD IndyCar Series, 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 F1 and IndyCar, including contributions from on-air commentators.

MotorSportsTalk’s content is provided by top racing journalists and expert analysts, including:

  • Keith Collantine (@KeithCollantine), editor and creator of the F1Fanatic blog;
  • Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1) creator of the F1 site RichlandF1.com.

To explore the site, please visit MotorSportsTalk.com.nbcsports.com or www.NBCSports.com.

SOCIAL: Follow @MotorsportsTalk@F1onNBCSports and @NBCSN on Twitter and “like” Facebook.com/NBC Sports for the most up-to-date news, videos and commentary about Formula One on NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network.

Commentator Twitter Chats – During the week of the Monaco race, F1 on NBC Sports commentators including @leighdiffey@mrstevematchett@mrdavidhobbs and @willbuxton will take part in various Twitter Chats allowing fans to get their questions answered from our very own experts.

Ryan Norman set to take next ‘Journey’ in debut Indy Lights season

Photo: Andretti Autosport
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One of the more unheralded drivers entering this year’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires campaign has been Ryan Norman, the 19-year-old out of Cleveland who has made strides in his rookie campaign.

Norman was the only one of Andretti Autosport’s Indy Lights quartet new to the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires this year. Teammates Nico Jamin, Dalton Kellett and Colton Herta have all been in the MRTI before, while Norman has undergone a significant learning process of taking on new tracks and a new championship.

But Norman’s been one of the year’s more pleasant surprises with methodical growth and improvement over the course of the season.

Through 12 races, Norman has improved his starting position by the end of the race in nine of them, and scored 10 top-10 finishes overall – a number that is tied for second in the series with Zachary Claman De Melo, behind only season points leader Kyle Kaiser who has been in the top-10 in all 12. He’s also won multiple Tilton Hard Charger awards for advancing the most positions in a race from his grid position, and additional Staubli Awards.

Norman ranks 10th in the points standings, ahead of two three-year veterans and two rookies.

Incidentally, it’s been the few races where Norman has qualified in the top five – fourth at the Freedom 100, third at Elkhart Lake race one and fourth in Iowa – where his results haven’t measured up to his starting position. A first lap accident took he and Herta out at the Freedom, while he still banked solid fourth and eighth place finishes in the other two races.

Norman heads to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend for the next step of his journey on his rookie season – literally.

After running in a vibrant orange-and-black livery the first 12 races, Norman will now step aboard the No. 48 Journey Mazda for Andretti Autosport this weekend, as the legendary rock band formed in 1973 comes onto the car, and the livery changes along with it for the balance of the season.

Not far from Norman’s hometown of Cleveland, the same city of The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Lexington, Ohio course will see Norman debut the new livery. ORACAL’s new 970 Premium Special Effect Cast in Sunset Shift, a color-changing wrap like Norman’s Red Bull Global Rallycross teammate Scott Speed’s race car. The new design echoes Journey’s iconic logo, featuring giant wings on the side pod and nose cone of Norman’s Dallara IL-15.

It’s an orange livery with yellow and blue stripes. Needless to say Norman is ready to rock out on home turf this weekend and look to continue his rapid growth in his first season this weekend.

“I am very excited to have Journey on board for the rest of my 2017 season,” Norman said in a release. “It’s unique to have a rock band sponsoring a race car. Journey was inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, which is my hometown, so it makes the next race at Mid-Ohio very special to me. I love Journey’s music and having “Don’t Stop Believin’” on the side of my car is very fitting. This song has inspired a lot people including athletes like myself.”

Norman isn’t the only Andretti Autosport driver with a story this weekend at Mid-Ohio; teammate Jamin looks to snap a rough patch of results and extend his own personal winning streak at Mid-Ohio from its current run of five races between USF2000 (three races in 2015) and Pro Mazda (two in 2016) while Herta looks to keep his championship hopes alive. Kellett has had the opposite bit of luck as Norman this year; he’s qualified significantly better but had a rough run of results in the races themselves that haven’t matched his potential.

Indy Lights race coverage from Mid-Ohio airs Sunday, July 30, at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Luca Ghiotto joins Hungary test list for Williams

Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.
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Formula 2 front-runner Luca Ghiotto is the latest young driver to be confirmed for the post-Hungarian Grand Prix test, with the Italian set to run on one of the two days for Williams Martini Racing.

Ghiotto battled Esteban Ocon for the GP3 title in 2015 but lost out to the Frenchman, and has since moved up a category on his own.

Ghiotto and Felipe Massa will split the two days of running between Tuesday and Wednesday after the Grand Prix.

“A big thanks to Williams for this opportunity. I think the first F1 test for any driver is a special moment, and to do it with such an historic team is even better so I’m really excited. Of course, I also need to focus on the F2 weekend beforehand, but I’m really looking forward to the test and I really hope it goes well,” Ghiotto said of his first F1 test.

Claire Williams, deputy team principal added, “This will be Luca’s first opportunity of a Formula One outing. Our team has a strong track record for developing young talent, and we always enjoy seeing young drivers getting opportunities to demonstrate their ability. I look forward to seeing how he performs in the car next month.”

Magnus brings in ‘hired gun’ Spencer Pumpelly for Mid-Ohio

Photo: Magnus Racing
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With Mansfield, Ohio the home of the prison in The Shawshank Redemption in the Ohio State Reformatory (also known as the Mansfield Reformatory) and with Magnus Racing PR ace and “Dinner with Racers” co-creator Sean Heckman one of two who’ve coined the inside joke that Spencer Pumpelly allegedly tried to kill a guy, it was only natural that Pumpelly will play the role of Magnus Racing’s “hired gun” near the prison at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for Pirelli World Challenge competition this weekend.

The joke stems from the first season of “DWR” and was a running joke throughout the season. The “hired gun” play-on-words riffs on the fact Pumpelly will be substituting for Pierre Kaffer in the team’s No. 4 Audi R8 LMS this weekend, with Kaffer on duty at the Total 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps for Audi Sport.

Pumpelly has raced alongside Kaffer and Dane Cameron in PWC SprintX competition this season – Pumpelly and Cameron actually won the second race of the weekend at Lime Rock Park – and now the veteran sports car driver and Atlanta native will make his first PWC Sprint starts of the year, and first since his similar fill-in role with Heckman’s “DWR” co-creator, Ryan Eversley, at RealTime Racing last year… which also started at Mid-Ohio.

“It’s great to have Spencer back in the team,” stated Magnus Racing team owner and driver John Potter, who is in the team’s No. 44 Audi in GTA. “Spencer has always fit right in with us, but driving the team to our first series victory of course sealed a very special place for his legacy with us. We’re hoping Mid-Ohio suits both Spencer and the No. 4, and hopefully we can repeat the same feat.”

“It’s great to return to the team,” stated Pumpelly. “Obviously our last race together went extraordinarily well, and we’re hoping that same momentum can continue in to Mid Ohio. It’s always tough to say what to expect, especially in these very frantic sprint races, but we’re optimistic that the circuit should suit us. The entire team at Magnus has done a great job putting this effort together, and we look forward to pushing for additional results.”

Jay Frye expresses positive outlook on 2018 car

Photo: IndyCar
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In a teleconference with members of the media on Monday, the prevailing mindset of INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations Jay Frye, who helped oversee the design of the 2018 universal aero kit (pictured above in a Chevrolet livery), was one of positivity following it’s official unveiling, in speedway trim, earlier today.

First and foremost, though he helped head the effort, he was vocal about the input he got from a number of different entities during the process of creating the design.

“This has been a year and a half in the making, and the process has finally come to a point where we can get the car on the track, so we’re quite excited about that,” he revealed. “We certainly appreciate everyone’s help, from Dallara to the teams who have helped to the manufacturers who have helped and certainly the fans. Over the last few months we kept putting out some different things to get reactions from fans to see what they thought of the project. It helped us a lot, because it made us feel like we were going in the right direction, which is great.”

The 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series chassis in a Honda livery. Photo: IndyCar

The overall timeline of the project dates back to last year, particularly at tests at Phoenix International Raceway and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where the experimentation process began. It was after those tests, as Frye explained, that the 2018 car began to take shape. “From that point (after tests at Phoenix and Mid-Ohio), we took what we thought the car should look like, and that’s where we talked about reverse engineering the car and to aesthetically make it have a historical feel, but in a very forward car, and I think we’ve done that.”

And with the project now open for the public to see, Frye appears confident that people will like how it performs. “The numbers have come back very strong, which we’re quite excited about. And here we are coming up to tomorrow, where we’re going to have our first on-track test. It’s been a long process, but it’s been very methodical,” he added.

Specific to those numbers, two obvious areas stand out the most: cost and downforce. First, as Frye explained, the operating cost of the 2018 aero kit is expected to be considerably less in comparison to the current aero kits from Chevrolet and Honda. Further, the conversion costs, the money the teams will spend in switching their chassis over to the new kits, is less than expected, making the package significantly more economical. As Frye explained, this is a result of negotiations in which it was agreed that this package will be in use for at least three years.

“From a total cost perspective, one of the things we looked at is called a conversion cost. What would it cost to convert the cars now? It’s not as much as we first thought it would be,” Frye detailed. “The annual cost will be 30-40 percent less than what the current car is. One of the things with having a universal car is we were able to negotiate the term, which is for three years, so the teams can plan for it. That was something that was very important: what the conversion cost was going to be and what the annual cost was going to be over this term.”

And, in terms of downforce, there will be reductions in aerodynamic downforce as well as overall downforce. First, most of the car’s grip will be generated from the bottom of the car, whereas currently most of the grip is produced by airflow over the top of the car. As Frye explained, this not only is significant to the overall performance of the car and how it will race, but it also reduces the chance for large debris fields after an accident.

“Sixty to seventy percent of the downforce is generated from the bottom of the car, where as before it was 40-45 percent, so there’s been a big gain in that. Also, another piece to the puzzle, there are less parts and pieces on top of the car, which creates less debris opportunities,” said Frye.

Further, the overall package is expected to produce 20-25 percent less downforce, that estimation even accounting for teams’ ability to develop the chassis to find areas where downforce could be added.

Frye added that this was a key element in the design of the car. “What we tried to do is create a window, so the total potential window of the car’s downforce level has shifted down. Obviously, as the teams start running the car, they’ll get better and better and better, so we wanted to make sure to move it a different direction that, once downforce comes back to a degree, we haven’t exceeded this window we’re looking at,” he revealed.

And, of course, enhanced safety was a big factor as well. Frye discussed a particular emphasis on side impacts, especially in the wake of accidents involving James Hinchcliffe (2015) and Sebastien Bourdais (2017), in which they suffered serious injuries following side-on impacts with the wall.

“The side-impact piece that’s in this car is moved forward, the radiator is moved forward, so it’s also a much more robust protection piece for the side-impact of the drivers,” Frye described.

And, of particular note in the wake of the F1 Strategy Group revealing that a halo will be introduced in 2018, Frye added that cockpit protection remains at the forefront, and while nothing is set in stone at the moment, the new chassis has room for cockpit protection to be added.

“The cars are built and designed around having some sort of application like that,” Frye said of cockpit protections. “At some point, we’ll test something, whatever application we can come up with. We’re definitely conscious of it, we’re conscious of how it will affect aesthetically, we’re conscious of the safety piece.”

The Verizon IndyCar series will test the 2018 car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway tomorrow, with Juan Pablo Montoya and Oriol Servia doing the driving, with additional tests scheduled for Iowa Speedway, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and Sebring International Raceway later this year.

Soon after series testing is complete, Honda and Chevrolet will begin receiving chassis for their respective teams to test, with all IndyCar teams scheduled to receive their cars beginning in November. Individual team testing will then begin in January of 2018.

Follow Kyle Lavigne.