Vettel can clinch fourth straight F1 title on NBCSN this weekend in Japan

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At the age of 26, Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) can clinch his fourth consecutive Formula One World Championship on Sunday at the Japanese Grand Prix, highlighting 15 hours of motorsports coverage this weekend on NBCSN.

Vettel can clinch his fourth consecutive F1 title with a win this weekend, coupled with a finish of ninth or worse by Fernando Alonso(Ferrari), who trails Vettel by 77 points in the F1 points standings with five races remaining. Vettel is a three-time winner at the Japanese Grand Prix, earning victories in three of the last four seasons at Suzuka International Racing Course, while Alonso has won the Japanese Grand Prix twice. Vettel clinched his second World Championship in 2011 at the Japanese Grand Prix with a third-place finish.

Vettel enters the Japanese Grand Prix following back-to-back “Grand Slams” at the Singapore and Korean Grands Prix, where he won the pole position, led every lap, and recorded the fastest lap en route to victory. It was only the third time ever a driver has achieved a Grand Slam in consecutive F1 races, and the first time in 50 years.

With a fourth consecutive World Championship, Vettel would tie Alain Prost (4) and trail only Juan Manuel Fangio (5) and Michael Schumacher (7) for the most career F1 World Championships. Vettel’s resume currently includes numerous F1 records, including youngest polesitter, youngest race winner, and youngest world champion.

Live coverage of the Japanese Grand Prix begins with practice on Friday at 1 a.m. ET on NBCSN, followed by qualifying on NBCSN on Saturday at 1 a.m. ET. Live race coverage of the Japanese Grand Prix begins on Sunday at 1:30 a.m. ET. NBCSN will also air an encore presentation of the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. F1 Extra, NBC Sports Group’s half-hour post-race show, will air immediately following the conclusion of NBCSN’s Japanese Grand Prix coverage.

Live coverage of practice, qualifying, and the Japanese Grand Prix can also be seen on NBC Sports Live Extra – NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, and tablets.

NBCSN will also air episodes of TRANSLOGIC as part of NBC Sports Group’s motorsports coverage.

Date Coverage Network Time (ET)
Fri., October 11 F1 Japanese Grand Prix – Practice NBCSN 1 a.m.
TRANSLOGIC NBCSN 2:30 a.m.
TRANSLOGIC NBCSN 11:30 p.m.
Sat., October 12 F1 Japanese Grand Prix – Qualifying NBCSN 1 a.m.
TRANSLOGIC NBCSN 2:30 a.m.
TRANSLOGIC NBCSN 10:30 p.m.
Sun., October 13 TRANSLOGIC NBCSN 1 a.m.
F1 Japanese Grand Prix NBCSN 1:30 a.m.
F1 Extra NBCSN 4 a.m.
F1 Japanese Grand Prix – Qualifying (Encore) NBCSN 11:30 a.m.
F1 Japanese Grand Prix (Encore) NBCSN 1 p.m.
F1 Extra (Encore) NBCSN 3:30 p.m.
Mon., October 14 IndyCar Grand Prix of Houston – Race 1 (Encore) NBCSN 1 a.m.

COMMENTATORS: Lead F1 announcer Leigh Diffey will call the Japanese Grand Prix and 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 the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, Japan.

Following are quotes from Hobbs on Vettel:

Hobbs on what sets Vettel apart: “He has a genius feel for the car – how it grips going into the corner. He has an unmatched ability to get the maximum amount out of the car on the first lap, which is incredibly hard to do.”

Hobbs comparing Vettel and Michael Schumacher: “We said when Michael Schumacher was around that it would never happen again. Well, now we’re seeing it again…I’m in total awe of him.”

Hobbs on historical context of Vettel’s performance: “We are watching something that has never happened in 60 years of grand prix racing. With his age and the team he’s driving for, the possibility of him winning seven World Championships and reaching Schumacher is very likely.”

The rest of the release can be found on the NBC Sports Group Press Box website.

Al Unser Jr. to race Pikes Peak Hill Climb for first time in 29 years

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Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. is coming out of retirement to race again.

Unser Jr., who turns 56 on April 19, will compete in the 96th Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 24. It will be the first time Unser has raced at Pikes Peak in 29 years, since the 1989 event.

Unser won the Hill Climb and was named “King of the Mountain” in the 1983 event.

Unser said in 2007 that he was retiring from racing and had no plans to race in the future. However, he has taken part since then in some selected vintage racing events.

Speaking of vintage cars, Unser is slated to drive a 1936 Chevrolet Sedan in this year’s Hill Climb, according to race organizers.

He’ll compete with a number of luminaries including eight-time Hill Climb winner Paul Dallenbach; Layne Schranz, who will be competing in his 25th “Race to the Clouds”; 23-time champion Clint Vahsholtz; 25-time Hill Climb competitor David Schmidt II and three-time Climb winner Spencer Steele.

Unser recently returned to IndyCar racing as a consultant with Harding Racing, which is beginning its first full season in the series with Gabby Chaves behind the wheel.