Former Caterham chief Abiteboul joins Renault

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Following the sale of Caterham F1 Team earlier this week, former team principal Cyril Abiteboul has returned to Renault as Managing Director.

After a difficult five years of racing, Malaysian businessmen Tony Fernandes sold the team earlier this week to a consortium that was advised by former Spyker and Jordan man Colin Kolles. Ex-Minardi driver Christijan Albers will work as team principal, with the changes taking immediate effect.

Abiteboul joined Caterham in 2012 to head up the F1 team for Fernandes, but when news broke about a potential sale, it seemed likely that he would be returning to Renault to work with its engine supply. Today, Renault Sport confirmed the news and the resignation of former president Jean-Michel Jalinier.

“The Renault Group regretfully announces the departure of Mr. Jean-Michel Jalinier, President and Managing Director of Renault Sport F1, who has decided to exercise his right to retirement for personal reasons,” a statement from the French marque read.

“From July 3, Renault Sport F1’s new President will be Mr. Jérôme Stoll who will take on the role in addition to his current responsibilities as Chief Performance Officer and Group Sales and Marketing Director.

“Mr. Cyril Abiteboul has been appointed to fill the newly-created position of Managing Director of Renault Sport F1, reporting to Mr. Jérôme Stoll.”

Caterham took to Twitter to wish Abiteboul the best of luck in his new role.

Although Caterham is now under new management, its future is still far from certain. For Abiteboul, his task will be to get Renault back up to speed after a difficult start to the season that has hampered its clients.

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.