F1: Briatore hypes up Baku, while Bernie shoots down Magny-Cours

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Former Benetton and Renault team boss Flavio Briatore (pictured, left, with his wife at last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix) was a driving force in bringing Formula One to Azerbaijan in 2015, and the Italian is keen to push the country’s capital of Baku as a tremendous setting for a Grand Prix.

“It’s very close to Europe, the city is amazing – it’s like a little Dubai,” Briatore told Reuters in Monte Carlo. “And more importantly, everything is new.

“The heart of the town is renovated completely so you have the flavor of the old days and of the oil money. The hotels are amazing, the facilities for your guys is super. It’s very nice.”

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone confirmed earlier this month that a deal has been signed with officials in Azerbaijan. The street race in Baku will be a direct replacement for the Korean Grand Prix, which has been dropped from the calendar along with the Indian Grand Prix.

Meanwhile, it appears that those hoping for a return of the French Grand Prix will be disappointed.

The country currently boasts three F1 drivers in Romain Grosjean, Jean-Eric Vergne, and Jules Bianchi, but has not had its own Grand Prix since 2008.

The French round had run at Magny-Cours, and recent French media reports have said that the track’s head was in negotiations with Formula One Management about reviving the race next year.

But Ecclestone has coolly shot down that prospect. When asked about going back to France, he replied: “No.”

“They’ll knock at the door but I don’t think we can do anything,” he added to Reuters.

Recapping the 2018 Dakar Rally with “best of” video highlights

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EDITOR’S NOTE: NBCSN will air additional Dakar Rally highlights on Monday at 7 p.m. ET.

As it has done so for four decades, the 40th annual Dakar Rally – the most grueling test of man and machine anywhere – produced a number of surprise finishes and also several disappointments for drivers or riders who were expected to do well in the nearly 5,600-mile trek that began in Peru and continued through Bolivia and ending in Argentina.

NBCSN has aired highlights from all 14 stages (actually 13, because one stage was completely rained out) during the Rally’s two-week run, which concluded Saturday.

Here’s some of the “best of” highlights from the overall Rally highlights, followed by a quick guide that gives you wrapups to all 14 stages.

So, without further adieu, here’s NBCSN’s “best of” the 2018 Dakar Rally:

2018 Dakar Rally: Best of cars

2018 Dakar Rally: Best of bikes

2018 Dakar Rally: Best of trucks

2018 Dakar Rally: Best of quads

Lastly, here’s a day-by-day wrapup of how the Rally played out.

MORE: Dakar Rally daily stages schedule, NBCSN broadcast schedule, list of all competitors.

MORE: Stage 14 overall Rally wrapup

MORE: Stage 13 wrapup

MORE: Stage 12 wrapup

MORE: Stage 11 wrapup

MORE: Stage 10 wrapup

MORE: Stage 9 cancelled due to weather, impassible course conditions

MORE: Stage 8 wrapup

MORE: Stage 7 wrapup

MORE: Stage 6 wrapup

MORE: Stage 5 wrapup

MORE: Stage 4 wrapup

MORE: Stage 3 wrapup

MORE: Stage 2 wrapup

MORE: Stage 1 wrapup