UPDATED: IndyCar targeting return to Brazil for 2015 season

5 Comments

The INDYCAR sanctioning body has announced that it’s exploring a return of the Verizon IndyCar Series to Brazil for the 2015 championship. However, it’s not Sao Paulo that the series is looking at in regards to which city will host the event.

Instead, the series has revealed that they’re talking with event organizers in the South American country’s capital of Brasilia, which is home to more than 2.7 million people and will serve as one of the host cities for this summer’s FIFA World Cup.

The series raced from 2010-2013 in Sao Paulo, and enjoyed a strong local following there with Brazilian drivers such as Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan as the main attraction.

“Brazil has a real history in Indy car racing and we would like to re-establish a championship race there as early as 2015,” Hulman & Co. CEO  Mark Miles said in a statement. “We are engaged in on-going discussions toward this goal and hope suitable arrangements can be finalized soon.

“There is still a lot of work to be done, but we are encouraged by the efforts from The Government of the Federal District – GDF and the Governor of Brasilia, Agnelo Queiroz, as well as the TV Bandeirantes Group.”

However, the Associated Press is reporting that “a deal with local race promoters was signed at an event in Sao Paulo” and that the GDF has said in a statement that there will be a race held from 2015-2019 at the Autodromo Nelson Piquet in Brasilia, a 3.4-mile road course.

That track is not to be confused with the former Autodromo Nelson Piquet in Rio de Janeiro, which hosted Formula One’s Brazilian Grand Prix in the 1980s and the Champ Cars from 1996-2000 on an accessory oval.

The AP also passes along a statement from Castroneves:

“I’m very happy to find out that our return to the calendar is secured. It will be great to race in Brasilia and I can’t wait for that to happen. Several challenges kept Brazil from hosting the race in 2014, but that’s life. Sometimes we need a step backward to come back stronger.”

When the sanctioning body released this year’s Verizon IndyCar Series schedule back in October of last year, Miles had left the door open for the Sao Paulo race’s return.

However, in December, the series sued Bandeirantes – reportedly for a sanctioning fee of just under $10 million – arguing that the promoter was contractually obligated to find another race venue when planned road work around the Sao Paulo street circuit caused Bandeirantes officials to tell INDYCAR that they couldn’t hold the event.

With that said, INDYCAR has continued to show the desire to return to Brazil, which has proven to be a solid market for the series. Considering that Bandeirantes appears in on this new race for Brasilia, perhaps the two sides have settled their differences in some form or another.

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

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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)