F1 Grand Prix of Japan - Previews

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.

McCormack confirms Davey Hamilton Jr. for Indy Lights

Photo: McCormack Racing
Photo: McCormack Racing
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New team, new driver in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series. It’s not full-time – yet – but this is good.

The full release from McCormack Racing is below:

18 year-old King of the Wing Sprint Car Series champion Davey Hamilton, Jr. has come to terms to compete for Jack McCormack & McCormack Racing in the 2016 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires.  The third generation driver originally from Boise, ID will be making his debut campaign in a single seater.

Hamilton hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps as the latest American racer to translate asphalt Open Wheel & Sprint Car success into an INDYCAR career.  Hamilton, Jr.’s 2015 concluded with his fifth Sprint Car win of the year at Madera in November en route to the King of the Wing Western Sprint Car Series championship and third in the national championship.

His father Davey, Sr. has competed in 11 Indianapolis 500s with a best finish of fourth.  He also finished second in series points in back-to-back seasons in 1997 and 1998.  He remarkably finished ninth in the 2007 edition of the 500 after a six year comeback from a devastating crash at Texas Motor Speedway.

“This opportunity with Jack McCormack is something I have been looking forward to for a long time,” Hamilton, Jr. said.  “We are working hard to be on the grid in March to challenge for wins and ultimately an Indy Lights championship.  We still have some work to do financially but we’re pushing hard.”

McCormack’s racing history goes back to 1966 in drag racing before a successful career in engineering and car ownership across IMSA, IndyCar, Indy Lights, and USAC.  McCormack has worked with a diverse range of top drivers such as Sam Posey, Skip Barber, Pancho Carer, Roger McCluskey, Jerry Sneva, Roger Mears, Tom Sneva, Geoff Brabham, and Dick Simon.

McCormack Racing and Hamilton have spent much of the off season testing primarily at Buttonwillow Raceway in California.  After several weeks practicing a third-generation Indy Lights car, Hamilton took controls of the current fourth-generation IL-15 for numerous testing days.  Hamilton and McCormack will make a private oval test later this month before joining the series officially on February 24th for the test on the one-mile oval Phoenix International Raceway.

The team has tentative agreements in place to compete in the entire Indy Lights starting with the Streets of St. Pete March 11-13.  Two separate Indy Lights races will be contested across opening weekend for the series.  Indy Lights’ 2016 agenda also includes oval races at Phoenix, Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Freedom 100 on Carb Day, and Iowa Speedway.

Both Hamilton and McCormack are still searching for additional funding to solidify an effort to be the seventh American on the grid this spring.

Alain Prost confirms having no role with Renault Sport F1 Team

Four-time Formula One champion Alain Prost visits the paddock area prior to the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix race at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, southern Austria, Sunday, June 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)
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BUENOS AIRES – Alain Prost has confirmed that he will not have a role within the revived Renault Sport Formula 1 Team’s management.

Renault will return to F1 with a works team in 2016 after five years away, having taken over the Lotus operation at Enstone in December.

On Wednesday, the team unveiled its driver line-up and management team for the season, with Prost not being announced as having a role.

Many expected the four-time F1 world champion to take up a position similar to that of Niki Lauda at Mercedes, where the Austrian works as a non-executive director.

Speaking to MotorSportsTalk in Buenos Aires, Prost confirmed that he will not be involved with the F1 operation and will instead focus on his broadcasting commitments and his role in Formula E with Renault e.dams.

“I decided for sure, not so long ago. I prefer to be away from the operational work because it’s too complicated anyway with Formula E and the ambassador role and Canal+ [in France] and maybe Channel 4 [in Britain], different things that I have to do,” Prost said.

“I cannot do things everywhere, it does not work anyway. I think also the image could create more problems than advantages, especially for the management. They have a structure.

“It’s going to be tough at the beginning. I’ll let them work and I’ll still keep my role of ambassador and different things.”

Jose Maria Lopez open to Formula E move in the future

Reigning champion of the World Touring Car Championship series Jose Maria Lopez of Argentina of team Citroen Total, attends a press conference in Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, April 30, 2015. The World Touring Car Championship, will take place on the  Hungaroring circuit in Mogyorod on May 2 and 3. (Zsolt Szigetvary/MTI via AP)
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BUENOS AIRES – Two-time WTCC champion Jose Maria Lopez has expressed an interest in entering Formula E in the future, hinting that he would be open to a move for 2017.

In 2014, Lopez became the first driver from Argentina to win an FIA-sanctioned world championship since Juan Manuel Fangio won his fifth Formula 1 title in 1957.

The Citroen driver added a second championship to his haul last year, but is on the lookout for future opportunities after the French manufacturer announced that it would be quitting WTCC following the 2016 season.

Speaking in Buenos Aires ahead of this weekend’s ePrix, Lopez said that he would be open to racing in Formula E in the future and giving Argentine fans a home driver to support.

“It would be fantastic for me to be part of this fantastic series, with this fantastic bunch of drivers,” Lopez said. “Today I have compromises with the brand with Citroen and also with the series I’m involved in, WTCC, we are developing the car so it’s a time of timing it’s not possible.

“But it would be fantastic because it’s a series which, [as] I’ve said before, is growing up really quick and it’s very interesting for the drivers. The fact that we have a race in Argentina, it would be fantastic to have as well an Argentinian driver.

“We will see. Today, everything is guessing because nothing is concrete and we talk about why not in 2017? It could be a good option.”

Lopez has previously substituted for the DS Virgin Racing team for a test thanks to its ties with Citroen, and enjoyed trying out a Formula E car.

“I did a small test with a team because there was no driver available and I was lucky enough to be there that day so I jumped in the car a few laps,” Lopez said.

“The first thing is you don’t have the noise of an engine. You hear everything what’s going on in the car – when the car is touching the ground, for example, you can hear the noise of the gearbox all the time, when you hit a kerb you can hear the suspension suffering.

“It’s quite a strange feeling but it’s still racing – the level of the series is fantastic, the driving is fantastic. And that is also very important. I know the drivers – I’ve been racing in the past with them.

“I’ve shared teams with Loic Duval, Jerome d’Ambrosio, Lucas di Grassi – they tell me the races are really, really, really fun, the car is fun to drive and the competition of is very very high.”

Nick Heidfeld to race in Buenos Aires as planned

FIA Formula E Championship 2015/16.
Beijing ePrix, Beijing, China.
Nick Heidfeld (GER), Mahindra Racing M2ELECTRO 
Press Conference
Beijing, China, Asia.
Saturday 24 October 2015
Photo: Sam Bloxham / LAT / FE
ref: Digital Image _SBL7972
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BUENOS AIRES – Nick Heidfeld will take part in this weekend’s Formula E race in Buenos Aires as planned after completing a trouble-free shakedown for Mahindra.

Heidfeld missed the last race in Uruguay after undergoing surgery on his wrist in a bid to remedy a recurring problem.

The German driver confirmed on Thursday that he would make a decision after shakedown on his participation, despite being 99% sure that he would be fit to race after testing an old GP2 car last week.

Shakedown took place on Friday afternoon, after which Heidfeld decided that he was happy to take part in the race as planned, as confirmed to MotorSportsTalk by Mahindra.

Two-time IndyCar starter and 2009 A1 GP champion Adam Carroll had flown to Buenos Aires as backup in the event that Heidfeld could not race, but will not be needed for tomorrow’s ePrix.