3-year extension proposed for IndyCar at Long Beach, with possible F1 return afterwards

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The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is set to remain part of the Verizon IndyCar Series calendar for a little while longer – but Formula One may now have a way to eventually return there.

The Long Beach (Calif.) City Council has proposed a three-year extension with the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach that will see the IndyCars race there through the 2018 season, per the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

However, the Press-Telegram also reports that the city will indeed open the event up for bidding, meaning that F1 could come back to the Beach after racing there from 1976 to 1983.

The proposed extension still needs to be confirmed in open session; the city’s current contract with the GPALB runs through next summer.

“This is precisely what we wanted,” GPALB president/CEO Jim Michaelian said to the Press-Telegram. “They have every right to explore other options, but by the same token we have the certainty of conducting the event through 2018. That’s important because we have lots of sponsorship agreements.”

Chris Pook, who has been the point man in F1’s attempt to return to the venerable street circuit, was also happy about the decision.

“I’m not knocking the IndyCar race, but Formula One will bring the economic value the city enjoys,” he said.

Pook recently estimated that upgrades to bring the Long Beach circuit to F1 standards would cost a little more than $9 million, and has maintained the stance that staging an F1 race would not be as costly as some may expect.

He re-iterated that belief to the Press-Telegram, saying: “We wouldn’t be talking about this if it wasn’t financially successful.”

This year’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach opens up NBCSN’s 2014 IndyCar coverage on Sunday, April 13 at 4 p.m. ET. A full TV schedule can be found here.

‘No desire’ for Lewis Hamilton to race in Indianapolis 500

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Lewis Hamilton has ruled out a future appearance in the Indianapolis 500, saying he has “no real plans” to do any serious racing once his time in Formula 1 is over.

Former teammate and current McLaren driver Fernando Alonso took part in the 101st running of the Indy 500 in May, qualifying fifth and running high up the order before retiring late on with an engine issue.

The F1-to-IndyCar crossover proved to be one of the biggest motorsport stories of the year, and has stirred the imagination of other drivers to make a similar step into other events in the future, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans which is known to be on Alonso’s radar as well as that of Haas racer Romain Grosjean.

Three-time F1 world champion Hamilton admired 2017 Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato’s victory ring when on the podium at the Japanese Grand Prix earlier this month, trying it on and joking it may spur him to enter the race to try and win the jewelry.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, Hamilton stressed he made the comment in jest, saying he holds not interest in entering the ‘500.

“Honestly it hasn’t inspired me to do the Indy 500,” Hamilton said.

“I’ve always respected it and appreciated it. I got to watch part of it when Fernando did it which I thought was super exciting. I love the idea of drivers being able to do more than one series.

“Just the other day I got to drive an F1 car on an oval circuit which was interesting. I have a huge amount of respect for those drivers as it is quite scary approaching those banks at the speeds that they do.

“I personally don’t have a desire to drive it. Maybe one day I will go out and have some fun.

“I have a lot of opportunities to do those kinds of things, but no real plans to do anything serious.”

Hamilton has previously said he would like to try a NASCAR race for fun one day, but has made clear his plan after his F1 career is over is to distance himself from racing in order to pursue other interests.