Kvyat wins GP3 championship ahead of F1 debut in 2014

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Russian driver Daniil Kvyat has won the 2013 GP3 championship in Abu Dhabi this weekend as he prepares to step up to Formula One next season with Scuderia Toro Rosso.

Kvyat’s appointment came as a surprise to many with fellow Red Bull junior drivers Antonio Felix da Costa and Carlos Sainz Jr. having more experience and appearing to be a safer option. However, Kvyat has enjoyed a sensational season in GP3, and he clinched the championship in Abu Dhabi on Saturday after winning the first race of the weekend whilst championship rival Facu Regalia could only finish sixteenth. As a result, Kvyat was crowned champion with one round remaining.

“It’s fantastic and I’m really happy for the team, they did an amazing job,” the Russian driver told the official GP3 website. “It’s been a great run since Barcelona. We just focused so much and we’ve been working so hard. I am unbelievably happy to be champion today.”

GP3 is the direct support series to GP2, which in turn feeds into Formula One. Esteban Gutierrez and Valtteri Bottas are both former champions whilst Alexander Rossi also competed in the championship, finishing fourth in 2010.

For the final race of the season, Kvyat started P8 as the top eight finishers on Saturday are reversed for the grid on Sunday. However, he produced another brilliant drive to finish in fifth place and finish the season thirty points clear of Regalia and over 100 points ahead of fellow Red Bull youngster Carlos Sainz Jr. In the race, American driver and 2013 Indy 500 runner Conor Daly managed to finish third, capping off a good weekend in Abu Dhabi for U.S. racers after Alexander Rossi’s maiden GP2 victory yesterday.

Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost confirmed Kvyat’s plans for the rest of the year in a press conference on Friday.

“We will have a test with him next week to get the super licence,” he explained. “Afterwards, he will go out on Friday in America and in Sao Paulo and of course we will have winter time, where he has to do a lot of work with physical training, mental training then working on the simulator to prepare him as good as possible for the next season.”

At the age of nineteen, Kvyat’s age could be cause for concern, but the management at Red Bull have cited his maturity and attitude as being the reason behind his appointment.

F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on NBCSN, NBC Sports App this week

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After five years and 98 Grands Prix broadcast since 2013, NBC Sports Group’s coverage of Formula 1 concludes with the 2017 season finale from Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina Circuit this week.

The lights come on for the day-into-night Grand Prix of the year as the sun sets on five years of broadcasts, original content and additional digital specific features such as Paddock Pass.

For Abu Dhabi this week, all of the race, qualifying and second free practice will be live on NBCSN with first and third free practice live on the NBC Sports App. The race returns is back in the usual morning a.m. time slots after three mid-day races in Austin, Mexico City and Sao Paulo, and a pair of overnight affairs in Kuala Lumpur and Suzuka. Formula 2 coverage of its season finale from Abu Dhabi also airs both on NBCSN and online.

With this the final race of the season before F1’s winter break, there’s still a handful of things to get sorted even though Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have wrapped their respective championships.

Sebastian Vettel (Brazil) and Max Verstappen (Mexico) have won the last two races, with Hamilton’s most recent win coming at Circuit of the Americas. Will it be any of these three that wrap the year on a high or could any of their teammates – Kimi Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo or Valtteri Bottas – upend the script?

Mercedes has won the last three races in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton winning in 2014 and 2016 with Nico Rosberg taking the 2015 crown.

Vettel and Hamilton have three wins apiece in Abu Dhabi, Vettel having taken all of his with Red Bull in 2009, 2010 and 2013, and Hamilton adding a 2011 McLaren triumph to his last two with Mercedes. Raikkonen (2012, Lotus) and Rosberg are the other Abu Dhabi winners, and while both Vettel and Raikkonen have won in Abu Dhabi, Ferrari never has in the first eight races here.

The last place up for grabs in the constructor’s battle is for sixth, with Toro Rosso (53 points), Renault (49) and Haas (47) separated by only six total points. Toro Rosso and Renault got into a nasty war of words in Brazil, and will part ways after the weekend.

Felipe Massa signs off his career in F1 for the second and expected final time at Williams, and with Toro Rosso having confirmed Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley last week, his seat is one of only three left to fill for 2018, and the most attractive.

McLaren and Honda also bring to an end their partnership after three troubled seasons, but on the bright side will look to score points for a third straight race together, which hasn’t happened since the Hungarian, German and Belgian Grands Prix of 2016.

As ever, and perhaps for the final time as a collective unit, Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett will be on the call with Will Buxton reporting from the pits and paddock.

Here’s the F1 schedule, with stream links and TV network if applicable:

  • Practice 1: Friday, Nov. 24, 4 a.m.-5:30 a.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Practice 2: Friday, Nov. 24, 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 3: Saturday, Nov. 25, 5 a.m.-6 a.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Qualifying: Saturday, Nov. 25, 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Pre-Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 7 a.m.-8 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 8 a.m.-10 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Post-Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 10 a.m.-10:55 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race (Replay): Sunday, Nov. 26, 7 p.m.-9 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • F2 Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 6 a.m.-7 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • F2 Race (Replay): Sunday, Nov. 26, 9 p.m.-10 p.m. ET (NBCSN)