MRTI: Broadcast schedule, talent revealed for NBCSN shows

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Andersen Promotions and the IMS Productions teams have announced a broadcast schedule and TV talent for the three Mazda Road to Indy series: Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. All three will be shown on NBCSN, and be produced by IMSP.

The 14 rounds of Indy Lights action will be showcased in 10 shows which will include full coverage of single race events, and highlight coverage of the 40-minute “sprint” race rounds within full coverage of the standard 60-minute feature races at the four double-header events. Seven of the 10 shows will air either immediately before or after the IndyCar Series race broadcast, with the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway airing live on May 23.

Pro Mazda and USF2000 competition will continue to be featured in four one-hour highlight shows, featuring an equal split between the two over the course of the show. One race per series will be featured, and one highlighted in the 60-minute time slot.

Kevin Lee, pit reporter for NBCSN’s IndyCar coverage, will anchor all shows with color commentary coming from Anders Krohn. Krohn, the Norwegian better known as “The Viking” raced in Indy Lights from 2010 through 2012 and has additional experience in Pro Mazda; he currently runs and operates CoForce International, which provides racing and corporate development services for young drivers. Jake Query will be on pit lane.

All Indy Lights races will be carried live on the IMS Radio Network to Sirius XM Satellite Radio, and the INDYCAR app from Verizon.

Mark Jaynes, who has held over a decade-long role as an announcer for the network, will continue his duties as anchor with driver Pippa Mann as analyst, IndyCar Series pit reporter Nick Yeoman on pit lane alongside Rob Howden, owner of Howden Media Group, who is the “official” voice of the Mazda Road to Indy serving as PA announcer and ceremonies host for the three ladder series. IMS Radio Network coverage will also include Pro Mazda and USF2000 news and results.

Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires 2014 Broadcast Schedule
April 4 Streets of St. Petersburg   4:00-5:00 pm ET Delayed
April 13 Streets of Long Beach   2:30-4:00 pm ET Same Day
April 27 Barber Motorsports Park   5:30-6:30 pm ET Same Day
Week of May 19 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (RC)   TBD Delayed
May 23 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Oval) 12:00-1:00 pm ET Live
July 6 Pocono Raceway   4:00-5:00 pm ET Same Day
July 20 Streets of Toronto   6:00-7:00 pm ET Same Day
August 3 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course   6:00-7:00 pm ET Same Day
August 17 The Milwaukee Mile   6:00-7:00 pm ET Same Day
August 24 Sonoma Raceway   7:00-8:00 pm ET Same Day
2014 Highlight Show Broadcast Schedule: NBCSN
May 24 1:30-2:30 am ET Barber Motorsports Park Streets of St. Petersburg
June 13 2:00-3:00 am ET Indianapolis Motor Speedway (RC) Indianapolis Motor Speedway (RC)
August 24 2:00-3:00 am ET Streets of Houston Streets of Toronto
Sept. 5 2:00-3:00 am ET Sonoma Raceway Sonoma Raceway

F1 Preview: 2018 Australian Grand Prix

Photo: Getty Images
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Save for two occasions, in 2006, and 2010, the Australian Grand Prix has served as the season-opening event for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship since 1996, and this weekend’s event will be the 21st time that the city of Melbourne has kicked off the Formula 1 campaign.

The 2018 season is the fifth one of the current hybrid power unit era, the second season of the current aero regulations, and the second under Liberty Media’s guidance.

Last year saw titans Mercedes AMG Petronas and Scuderia Ferrari duel for supremacy for most of the season before Mercedes distanced Ferrari late in the season to take the constructor’s title and the driver’s title, with Lewis Hamilton, who is now tied with Sebastian Vettel on four world championships apiece.

Four drivers on the grid have Formula 1 world championships to their name: Hamilton, Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, and Fernando Alonso. Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley also has a world championship to his name as a two-time titlist in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

So, what can viewers expect from the 2018 curtain-raiser in Australia? A handful of things to watch are below?

2018 Australian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Does Anyone Have Anything for Mercedes?

Only on one day during pre-season testing did a Mercedes driver lead the way – Lewis Hamilton was fastest on the final day of Week 1 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

However, all indications were that was by design, with the team focusing the majority of the second week, if not the entire second week, on long runs with their W09 EQ Power+ chassis.

Such a decision is an ominous one, in that it indicates the team is very comfortable with the amount of speed in the car and did not see a need, or desire, to show their hand during testing.

With that in mind, the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas may yet again have the best and fastest cars, and the team looks poised to potentially make it five constructor’s and driver’s championships in a row.

Ferrari and Red Bull Look to End Mercedes Reign

The biggest threats to Mercedes are undoubtedly Ferrari and Red Bull, the only other teams to win in 2017.

And both teams displayed a lot of pace during testing, particularly in the “one-lap speed” category. Ricciardo set a lap record around the Catalunya circuit during the second week, only for Vettel to supplant that mark later in the week. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen led the way during the final day of testing.

It is unknown how that pace will translate over the course of a race distance. Mercedes appeared to have an edge on both Ferrari and Red Bull over long runs and race simulations, but there is also a theory that neither Ferrari nor Red Bull had their true long-run form on display.

Still, if a team is going to knock off Mercedes, it will likely be either Ferrari or Red Bull.

McLaren on the Rebound?

Put simply, the previous three seasons for McLaren F1 Team were a bit of a disaster. Their partnership with Honda yielded point totals of 27 (2015), 76 (2016), and 30 (2017) in a three-year venture that was defined by poor reliability and underwhelming power.

The relationship hit a boiling point last year and both entities parted ways ahead of the 2018 season, with McLaren signing a new power unit deal with Renault.

Testing went better than in previous years, though the team continued to battle reliability problems. However, all issues appeared to be minor, needling issues rather than more significant, foundational problems, as the other Renault teams (Red Bull and Renault Sport F1 Team) had solid runs with few reliability issues.

The car does appear to have speed in it, so if the reliability problems are behind them, McLaren could be in for a rebound season.

Stuck in the Midfield Again

Formula 1’s battle amongst the midfield is set to be as fierce as ever as a host of a several teams have a chance at being “best of the rest.”

Sahara Force India has been the frontrunner from the the midfield teams each of the last two years, finishing fourth in the constructor’s title in both 2016 and 2017, though if the steady conflict between drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez continues through 2018, it could hamper their efforts significantly.

Renault Sport F1 Team and Haas F1 Team look to improve on their 2017 form, while Toro Rosso is in a new partnership with Honda power units…and has experienced a surprisingly smooth pre-season as Honda’s 2018 platform looks significantly better, with the team enjoying a solid run of testing with few, if any, reliability problems.

Williams Martini Racing and Alfa Romeo Sauber appear to be at the back of the pack entering the season, but both could battle for points finishes if those ahead of them falter.