Shoes a pain for Sauber tester Sergey Sirotkin in Bahrain test

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How to assess Sergey Sirotkin’s Tuesday at Bahrain International Circuit? Depends on how you look at the charts – the young Russian turned in 76 laps in Sauber’s Ferrari-powered C33 during the test, but his fastest time was more than three seconds off the pace set by Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg.

Of course, the bigger goal was getting Sirotkin enough miles to qualify for his FIA superlicense and that was accomplished. He needed to run 300 kilometers, and he ended up breaking 400 km.

However, Sirotkin’s speed may have been hampered a bit by a footwear issue – namely, his shoes were too small.

It’s probably best to let him explain it.

“The problem was that my shoes didn’t arrive and the ones we had here were too small,” he told Crash.net. “When you brake hard, it gave a lot of problems with the feet, so really at one stage, I couldn’t come back to the pits – it was so painful. There are so many braking points here that every time you go on the straights you thing ‘Argh, no, I need to brake next corner!’

“It was really a lot of trouble. I was not able to finish the laps. Every time I started a really good lap due to this, I was never able to finish the lap. Anyway, it’s the first time for me. The first time with new equipment and I didn’t know exactly what should be here. So these things can happen, it’s nothing strange for me…”

But despite the shoe trouble and having to get used to the C33, test engineer Paul Russell thought Sirotkin persevered nicely.

“…As he had not driven the car before and did not know the track either, he had a lot to do in the cockpit,” Russell said in a team release. “Sergey had to learn all of this and he handled it pretty well. The lap times were very good.

“He seemed to be learning the car and the track quite well. In the afternoon, we continued our programme and finished the day with the long runs. All in all, it was a positive day.”

Giedo van der Garde will take over the C33 tomorrow.

F1 Mexican Grand Prix on NBC, NBCSN, App this week

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Lewis Hamilton is poised to wrap his fourth Formula 1 World Championship early at this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix, as NBC Sports covers the 18th of 20 rounds this season from the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.

Expanded TV coverage comes this weekend on NBC, NBCSN and the NBC Sports App.

All sessions will air live. Both Friday practice sessions are live on NBCSN at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. ET. Saturday third practice airs live via the NBC Sports App at 11 a.m. ET with a practice replay show at 12:30 p.m. before live qualifying at 2 p.m. ET, those two on NBCSN.

On Sunday, race day, F1 Countdown starts at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC leading to lights out and the race at 3 p.m. ET. Post-race coverage continues on NBC for one hour, from 5 to 6 p.m. ET.

Mercedes AMG Petronas has won both Mexican Grands Prix since the race was reinstated in 2015 after a 23-year hiatus. Nico Rosberg won in 2015 a race after Hamilton had clinched that year’s title, while Hamilton won last year in a 1-2 with Rosberg continuing to close on his first title.

Controversy reined about third place in Mexico last year with all of Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and ultimately Daniel Ricciardo ending in third, Ricciardo getting the podium after post-race penalties were assessed to the other two. Valtteri Bottas is the other active podium finisher in Mexico, having come third in 2015 with Williams.

Vettel enters Mexico 66 points behind Hamilton and can only keep the title alive to Brazil if he gets the gap under 50 points; any top-five finish for Hamilton will ensure the Englishman equals Vettel on four titles. So if Vettel doesn’t finish first or second, he can’t score enough points (either 25 or 18) to get that gap under 50 markers.

Last year’s race featured a bit of a “Noah’s Ark” finishing order with just the top five teams in the championship scoring points at this race, almost in descending order of just two-by-two. It was two Mercedes, then two Red Bulls, then two Ferraris, then Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India before the two Williams, and finally hometown hero Sergio Perez in the second Force India.

Perez is the lone home favorite this race with Esteban Gutierrez not on the grid this season.

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

  • Practice 1: Friday, Oct. 27, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 2: Friday, Oct. 27, 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 3: Saturday, Oct. 28, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Practice 3 (Replay): Saturday, Oct. 28, 12:30 p.m.-2 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Qualifying: Saturday, Oct. 28, 2 p.m.-3:45 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Pre-Race: Sunday, Oct. 29, 2:30 p.m.-3 p.m. ET (NBC)
  • Race: Sunday, Oct. 29, 3 p.m.-5 p.m. ET (NBC)
  • Post-Race: Sunday, Oct. 29, 5 p.m.-6 p.m. ET (NBC)
  • Race (Replay): Sunday, Oct. 29, 8:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)

The next race is the Brazilian Grand Prix, on November 12.