Miles bullish on Verizon IndyCar awareness plans

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Less is more for Verizon Wireless as a company, according to Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles.

As Verizon has scaled back its sports sponsorships to just the National Football League and now title sponsor of the Verizon IndyCar Series, there is more room for growth, activation and promotion for both.

The NFL may be the sports behemoth, but IndyCar appeals to Verizon from a technology standpoint. Miles explained it during an appearance on Inside Indiana Business with Gerry Dick, in an interview with reporter Bill Brenner.

“They’ve been on a strategy where they’ve reduced their sports sponsorships, but increased involvement as title sponsor with us,” Miles said.

“Why? They have two principal sponsorships, NFL and IndyCar. They are determined to spread the message that they are a technology company, not just a telecommunications company.”

Verizon already released a teaser ad to go along with the entitlement partnership announcement. Now, Miles said the ad budget will be huge to moving IndyCar’s story forward.

“When they looked at our sport, they see so many moving parts, and want to improve the operations,” he said. “Their plans for that are terrific, and it will make a difference. They have a $1.2 billion advertising budget. They don’t want to keep it a secret.”

Other topics of the interview included more of his thoughts on expanding the month of May and discussing the various concert lineups as well. You can see a link to the full interview here.

The series kicks off this Sunday at St. Petersburg, with the first race on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra Long Beach on April 13.

F1 2017 driver review: Esteban Ocon

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Esteban Ocon

Team: Sahara Force India
Car No.: 31
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P5 (Spain, Mexico)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 87
Championship Position: 8th

A shining star in Mercedes’ junior programme, Esteban Ocon vaulted fellow youngster Pascal Wehrlein in the pecking order to secure a seat at Force India for 2017 – and boy, did he live up to the hype.

Ocon arrived at Force India with half a season of racing under his belt after his outings with Manor late in 2016, but wasted little time in settling in, scoring points on debut in Australia after winning a thrilling three-way fight with Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso.

The Frenchman spent much of the year close to teammate Sergio Perez – even if things did get a little too close in Canada, Baku and, finally, Spa, prompting the team to introduce team orders – and impressed the entire paddock with his displays.

While no podium was forthcoming, Ocon was often leading the midfield fight, enjoying three straight finishes ahead of Perez from Japan to Mexico. Given how well Perez is rated on-track in the paddock, to have convincingly beaten him in such fashion did a lot for Ocon’s reputation.

The term ‘Oconsistency’ also came into F1’s dictionary as he set a new record for consecutive finishes from his first race, with his retirement in Brazil ending the streak at 27 grands prix. It was also his first retirement in a single-seater race since the 2014 Macau Grand Prix.

The highlight moment arguably came at Monza, though, when Ocon stuck his Force India third on the grid through torrential rain in qualifying. While he would drop to P6 at the checkered flag, the display nevertheless cemented his place as one of F1’s rising stars.

Mercedes rates Ocon very highly, and with Valtteri Bottas’ future beyond 2018 already being questioned by the paddock, a good season could see the youngster move on up to the top table of F1 for 2019. His progression in the next 12 months will be fascinating to keep track of.

Season High: Lining up P3 on the grid at Monza after a rainy qualifying.

Season Low: Clashing with Perez in Baku, costing Force India a possible podium.