Live F1, IndyCar races highlight 20-plus hours of NBCSN racing coverage this weekend

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NBC Sports Group will present 21.5 hours of motorsports coverage this weekend, highlighted by live Formula One and IndyCar Grands Prix on NBCSN on Sunday. NBCSN’s Sunday doubleheader of live race coverage begins at 7:30 a.m. ET with the Shell Belgian Grand Prix, and continues with the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at 4 p.m. ET.

Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) continues to maintain his lead atop the F1 points standings over Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus), despite a third place finish in Hungary last month. Raikkonen is a four-time winner of the Shell Belgian Grand Prix, while Vettel took the checkered flag in Belgium in 2011.

Helio Castroneves (Penske) continues to maintain his position atop the IZOD IndyCar Series points standings over Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi). Both are past winners at Sonoma; Dixon took the checkered flag in 2007, while Castroneves earned a victory in 2008. Charlie Kimball (Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi) became the fourth driver this season to earn his first career IndyCar Series win with his victory at Mid-Ohio three weeks earlier.

Coverage of the Shell Belgian Grand Prix begins on Friday with live practice on NBCSN at 8 a.m. ET. Live streaming coverage of qualifying can be seen on NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices and tablets, on Saturday at 8 a.m. ET, and on NBCSN at 12:30 p.m. ET. Sunday’s live coverage of the Shell Belgian Grand Prix on NBCSN begins at 7:30 a.m. ET.

NBCSN’s coverage of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma starts with qualifying on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET. NBCSN’s live telecast of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma airs Sunday at 4 p.m.

NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will combine to provide live AMA Motocross coverage this Saturday from Lake Elsinore, Calif. Live coverage starts on NBC Sports Live Extra at 1 p.m. ET and will also air on NBCSN at 3:30 p.m. ET.

ARCA Racing rounds out NBC Sports Group’s motorsports coverage this weekend on Friday at 11 p.m. on NBCSN.

Date Coverage Network Time (ET)
Fri., August 23 F1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix – Practice NBCSN 8 a.m.
ARCA Racing NBCSN 11 p.m.
Sat., August 24 F1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix – Practice (Encore) NBCSN 1 a.m.
F1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix – Qualifying (Live) NBC Sports Live Extra 8 a.m.
F1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix – Qualifying NBCSN 12:30 p.m.
AMA Motocross NBC Sports Live Extra 1 p.m.
AMA Motocross NBCSN 3:30 p.m.
AMA Motocross NBC Sports Live Extra 5:30 p.m.
GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma – Qualifying NBCSN 9 p.m.
AMA Motocross (Encore) NBCSN 10 p.m.
Sun., August 25 F1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix – Qualifying (Encore) NBCSN 1 a.m.
F1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix NBCSN 7:30 a.m.
F1 Extra NBCSN 10 a.m.
GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma NBCSN 4 p.m.

 

COMMENTATORS: NBC Sports Group’s IndyCar and Formula One play-by-play voice Leigh Diffey will call the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. Diffey will be joined in the booth this week by former drivers Townsend Bell and Wally Dallenbach. Reporters Jon BeekhuisKevin LeeMarty Snider and Robin Miller will manage the pits.

Veteran motorsports broadcaster Bob Varsha will call the Shell Belgian Grand Prix. He will be joined by veteran analyst and former racecar driver David Hobbs, and analyst and former race mechanic for the Benetton F1 team Steve Matchett. F1 insider Will Buxton will serve as the team’s on-site reporter from Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.

Jason WeigandtJeff Emig and Kelli Stavast will provide AMA Motocross coverage from Lake Elsinore National in Lake Elsinore, Calif.on Saturday afternoon.

Rick BenjaminAndy Hillenburg and Kevin Lee have the call of the Allen Crowe 100 from the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Friday night.

INDYCAR AND FORMULA ONE 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 Shell Belgian Grand Prix and the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sunday. Coverage will be streamed via “TV Everywhere,” the media industry’s effort to make quality content available to MVPD 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 NBCSN 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.

Click here for the participating cable/satellite/telco companies offering NBC Sports Live Extra.

Ocon picks up maiden F1 point in Australia, finishes as top rookie

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Esteban Ocon picked up his first point in Formula 1 during his maiden outing for Force India in Australia on Sunday, finishing the race 10th and as the top rookie.

Ocon made his F1 debut in Belgium last year with the backmarker Manor team, completing the final nine rounds of the season before moving into a seat with Force India for 2017.

Embarking on his first full season of F1 (and therefore still a rookie) in 2017, Ocon qualified 14th in Australia on Saturday before spending much of the race battling with Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg, the trio going three-wide down the main straight at one point.

Ocon was able to come out on top, clinching the final point on offer in Melbourne by finishing P10 to complete a double-points finish for Force India after Sergio Perez ended up seventh.

“Very happy with today. It’s been a tough weekend but a great reward at the end,” Ocon told NBCSN after the race.

“Fighting with Alonso made things difficult. It was side by side. Then I had the better pace with him. It’s so much harder to overtake, but I made the pass and got the point.

“I’m learning all the time. It’s good what we’ve done here. This is good for the team. We hope we can score many more for the championship.”

Ocon emerged as the top rookie in Melbourne, with Antonio Giovinazzi and Stoffel Vandoorne finishing 12th and 13th respectively. Williams’ Lance Stroll – making his first start in F1 – retired due to a brake disc issue.

F1 Paddock Pass: Australian Grand Prix post-race (VIDEO)

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And so, the 2017 Formula 1 season is officially underway with the Australian Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari are on top, having beat Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes both on strategy and on pace to kick off this new era in the sport’s history.

A recap of the day from the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne occurs below in the latest edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series, Paddock Pass, as F1 pit reporter and insider Will Buxton and producer Jason Swales go into the paddock to run down the stories of the day.

MORE: Full Australian Grand Prix event replay; Mosaic replay

The podium saw Vettel ahead of Hamilton, with Mercedes’ new driver Valtteri Bottas coming third on debut for the team.

Other interviews that occurred during NBCSN’s post-race coverage on F1 Extra included with Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen, who came fourth and fifth respectively, with Force India’s Esteban Ocon who scored his first career point, and with McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who doggedly dragged his McLaren Honda into a potential points-paying finish before a late-race retirement.

Paddock Pass is in three parts and can be viewed below.

Haas’ sophomore F1 season starts badly with double DNF in Australia

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The Haas Formula 1 team’s sophomore campaign got off to a bad start on Sunday as drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were both forced to retire from the Australian Grand Prix.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his eponymous operation into F1 last year, making its debut in Australia 12 months ago.

Grosjean scored a memorable sixth-place finish on that day in Melbourne, and looked poised to repeat the result in 2017 after qualifying sixth on Saturday.

A poor start was Grosjean drop to seventh, but he managed to hold position through the opening stint of the race ahead of the pit stop cycle.

However, Grosjean had no chance to wield some strategic genius as Haas did last year, with a water leak forcing him to retire while inside the top 10.

“I suddenly lost a lot of power. I told the guys, then the next thing I knew I had to slow down the car,” Grosjean explained.

“It’s a pretty disappointing result, but again, right now I’m hot and we’re all disappointed to lose a seventh-place position, but the car was there in qualifying in P6. The start wasn’t ideal, so we need to improve that. I felt I was faster than the Williams, so there’s huge potential in the car.

“I guess the key for us is to keep the momentum and get the consistency we didn’t have last year, where I’d be fifth in Bahrain then 19th in China. I really want to improve on that and get more consistency in terms of results. If we do that, then I’m sure there are going to be plenty of races where we can score good points.”

Grosjean’s new teammate for 2017, Kevin Magnussen, suffered an early setback when he clashed with Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson on the first lap, and ultimately retired due to a suspension issue stemming from the incident.

“I had Ericsson on the outside and I understeered into the side of him, which was unfortunate. I lost my front wing and damaged the car a little bit,” Magnussen said.

“We changed the front wing and then I went for a long test session to feel the car and learn a bit more about it, which was good. It feels good and the car is fast.

“That’s the really positive thing from this weekend. The car is there. We just have to make it finish and score points.”

Team principal Guenther Steiner added: “Not the race we wished for, or we expected. With Romain it looks like we had a water leak. We don’t know yet where that came from.

“Obviously, Kevin’s race was destroyed in the third corner after the contact with Ericsson. He then ended up later with a suspension failure, which we still have to investigate why.

“The good thing we take out of here is that the car seems to be fast. We need to work on a few parts and, hopefully, we can get back strong again in China in two weeks.”

Sam Posey previews 2017 with ‘The Winds of Change’ (VIDEO)

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As the 2017 kicks off from Australia, our resident poet laureate Sam Posey has penned his latest essay on what’s to come ahead of the new year.

Here’s a look ahead to the new season, with Posey’s “The Winds of Change” looking at the vast transformation in the sport that occurred over the winter, from the change in ownership, to the change in cars, to the change in the lineups… and to the change in the pecking order.

An archive of Posey’s 2016 essays are linked here.