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What to expect during NBC Sports’ biggest racing weekend of 2014

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IndyCar, Formula One, Red Bull Global Rallycross and Lucas Oil Pro Motocross (plus IndyCar and F1’s main development leagues, Indy Lights and GP2) are all in action this weekend – the biggest motorsports weekend of the year for us at the NBC Sports Group.

Whether you prefer two wheels, four wheels, asphalt, or dirt, NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, and NBC Sports Live Extra will have you covered.

If you’re planning to keep up with us, here’s how the main television and streaming schedule will look for the weekend.

It all begins Friday morning with F1 practice from the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

Also, everything will be streamed online and on mobile devices through NBC Sports Live Extra at NBCSports.com/LiveExtra and the NBC Sports Live Extra app (available on the App Store and Google Play).

THIS WEEKEND’S TV/STREAMING SCHEDULE

Friday
4 a.m. ET, Live Extra F1: German Grand Prix, Practice 1
8 a.m. ET, CNBC – F1: German Grand Prix, Practice 2
2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN – F1: German Grand Prix, Practice 2 Re-Air

Saturday
5 a.m. ET, Live Extra – F1: German Grand Prix, Practice 3
8 a.m. ET, CNBC – F1: German Grand Prix, Qualifying
11:30 a.m. ET, Live Extra – Lucas Oil Pro Motocross: Spring Creek National, Practice
Noon ET, NBCSN – F1: German Grand Prix, Qualifying Re-Air
1:15 p.m. ET, Live Extra – Lucas Oil Pro Motocross: Spring Creek National, Pre-Show
1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN – IndyCar: Honda Indy Toronto Qualifying, Race 1
2 p.m. ET, Live Extra – Lucas Oil Pro Motocross: Spring Creek National, 1st Motos
3 p.m. ET, NBCSN – IndyCar: Honda Indy Toronto, Race 1
4 p.m. ET, Live Extra – Lucas Oil Pro Motocross: Spring Creek National, 450 Class
5 p.m. ET, Live Extra – Lucas Oil Pro Motocross: Spring Creek National, 250 Class
6 p.m. ET, NBCSN – Lucas Oil Pro Motocross: Spring Creek National

Sunday
7:30 a.m. ET, CNBC – F1: German Grand Prix
Noon ET, NBCSN – F1: German Grand Prix Re-Air
2 p.m. ET, NBC – Red Bull Global Rallycross: New York
3 p.m. ET, NBCSN – IndyCar: Honda Indy Toronto, Race 2
6 p.m. ET, NBCSN – Indy Lights: Toronto
7 p.m. ET, NBCSN – GP2: Germany

VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES – HONDA INDY TORONTO (Sat. & Sun., 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
On-Air: Bob Varsha, Paul Tracy and Townsend Bell (booth); Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Kevin Lee, Robin Miller (pits)

The grueling summer stretch for North America’s top open-wheel series will only get harder this weekend with a pair of 85-lap races on the streets of Toronto. The 11-turn, 1.75-mile circuit has several passing opportunities but its tight quarters can lead to wrecked cars, angry drivers, and a type of mayhem usually reserved for NASCAR short tracks (with no Sprint Cup race this weekend, consider this a cue to have your stock car buddies tune in). Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves leads Will Power by just nine points, with 2012 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay and Simon Pagenaud lurking in third and fourth place.

FORMULA ONE – GERMAN GRAND PRIX (Sun., 7:30 a.m. ET, CNBC)
On-Air: Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs, Steve Matchett, and Will Buxton (on-site)

Nico Rosberg enters his home Grand Prix riding the wave of off-track momentum – his national team claimed the FIFA World Cup last Sunday, he just got married, and he just extended his Mercedes contract. Now, he looks to reassert authority within the team after teammate Lewis Hamilton scored a critical victory on his own home turf at Silverstone two weeks ago, as Rosberg ground to a halt with gearbox failure. In any event, Rosberg’s keen to reclaim the top spot in his home race, and extend his dwindling championship lead in Hockenheim.

RED BULL GLOBAL RALLYCROSS – VOLKSWAGEN RALLYCROSS NY (Sun., 2 p.m. ET, NBC)
On-Air: Brian Till and Tommy Kendall (booth); Kristin Kenney (reporter)

Cars like the Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Veloster, and VW Polo may not scream “racing” when you see them on the road. But in the delightfully crazy world of Red Bull Global Rallycross, cars like these are turned into pint-sized rockets, capable of going 0-60 mph in two seconds or less. Hand ‘em over to some of the best rallycross racers in the world, cut ‘em loose on a twisty circuit made up of asphalt, dirt and gravel, and you’ve got a spectacle that can’t be ignored. A couple of ex-NASCAR and Formula One racers, Scott Speed (Andretti Autosport) and Nelson Piquet Jr. (SH Racing Rallycross), are separated by just one point entering the weekend.

LUCAS OIL PRO MOTOCROSS – SPRING CREEK NATIONAL (Coverage starts Saturday at 11:30 a.m. ET, Live Extra)
On-Air: Jason Weigandt and Grant Langston (booth); Georgia Lindsay (pits)

Ryan Dungey will look to cut into Red Bull KTM teammate Ken Roczen’s lead atop the 450 Moto standings as the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship visits Spring Creek Motocross Park in Millville, Minnesota; Roczen holds a 26-point edge going into Spring Creek. Meanwhile, 250 class points leader Jeremy Martin will literally have a home race on the track that’s been owned by his parents since the late 1980s.

INDY LIGHTS – TORONTO (Sun., 6 p.m. ET, NBCSN; On-Air: Kevin Lee, Anders Krohn, and Jake Query)
GP2 – HOCKENHEIM (Sun., 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN; On-Air: Will Buxton)

A chance to see the rising open-wheel stars back-to-back in both North America and Europe occurs with the top feeder series to IndyCar and Formula One rounds out the weekend coverage on Sunday. In Indy Lights, Gabby Chaves (Belardi Auto Racing) leads Zach Veach (Andretti Autosport) by 11 points on the strength of four victories to Veach’s two. In GP2, a pair of wins and points finishes in each of the first 10 races sees DAMS’ Jolyon Palmer head of the standings with 143 points. Felipe Nasr (Carlin) is second with 105. Two young Americans race in the series; Alexander Rossi now with Campos, and Conor Daly with Lazarus.

Esteban Ocon secures Mercedes DTM seat for 2016

2015 GP3 Series Round 9
Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Sunday 29 November 2015.
Esteban Ocon (FRA, ART Grand Prix) 
Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.
ref: Digital Image _G7C8733
© GP3 Series
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2015 GP3 Series champion Esteban Ocon will race in the DTM championship this year with Mercedes in tandem with a reserve role in Formula 1 at Renault.

Ocon joined Mercedes’ junior program in the spring of 2015 before becoming a fully-fledged member at the end of the year just days before his GP3 title success.

The Frenchman was known to be considering a move into either DTM or GP2 for 2016, but will now replace F1-bound Pascal Wehrlein at Mercedes’ factory team for the new DTM campaign.

“It’s an incredible feeling to be part of such a professional and strong racing series,” Ocon said.

“I’m very pleased to be driving for Mercedes-Benz. It’s the best team in the DTM and I’m very grateful for this fantastic opportunity.

“Mercedes is the most successful manufacturer in DTM history. You can only achieve that with real passion and hard work, and those are characteristics that we share. After driving in free practice during the final race weekend of the 2015 season at Hockenheim, I can’t wait to start a DTM race.

“I obviously have a lot to learn, but my goal – and that of everyone in the team – is to fight for wins as soon as possible.”

Trident completes 2016 GP2 line-up with Armand

2015 GP2 Series Test 3.
Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Friday 4 December 2015.
Philo Armand (INA, Status Grand Prix).
Photo: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service.
ref: Digital Image _L0U4261
© GP2 Series
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Trident has completed its line-up for the 2016 GP2 Series season by signing Indonesian driver Philo Paz Armand.

Armand has previously raced in a number of European Formula Renault 2.0 championships, and most recently took part in half of last year’s Formula Renault 3.5 rounds, scoring one point.

Armand will now step up to GP2 for the 2016 season, racing alongside 2015 GP3 runner-up Luca Ghiotto at Trident.

“We are very excited to start this collaboration with Philo and we are confident he will express all his talent thanks to the team’s help,” Trident team manager Giacomo Ricci said.

The grid for GP2’s support series, GP3, is also beginning to come together for the new season following the announcements of Tatiana Calderon and Honda junior Nirei Fukuzumi.

Calderon moves into GP3 from FIA F3 and will race for Carlin, while Fukuzumi joins ART Grand Prix, continuing the French squad’s association with Honda.

Marchionne calls for Alfa Romeo to consider F1 entry

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 20:  The Alfa Romeo 4C on display at the Vanity Fair Campaign Hollywood Alfa Romeo Ride and Drive luncheon at The Polsky Residence on February 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
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Fiat-Chrysler CEO and Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne believes that Italian car manufacturer Alfa Romeo must consider entering Formula 1 with a team in the near future.

Alfa Romeo last raced as a constructor in F1 between 1979 and 1985, but has enjoyed no involvement within the series since 1988 when it supplied engines to the Osella team.

Marchionne believes that a return to F1 would be an effective way for Alfa Romeo to grow as a brand and gain more public awareness.

“In order to restore their name, they must consider returning to Formula 1,” Marchionne told Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Alfa Romeo are capable of making their own chassis, just like they are capable of making their own engine,” he added, before conceding that it could enjoy an engine supply from Ferrari should it wish to enter F1.

Marchionne believes that adding more manufacturers to the F1 grid is key to safeguarding the long-term future of the series.

“In the end this sport must be saved,” Marchionne said.

“The important thing is to make other car manufacturers enter grand prix racing.”

Grosjean unveils new helmet design for first F1 season with Haas

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© Romain Grosjean
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Romain Grosjean has revealed his new-look helmet design ahead of his first Formula 1 season with Haas in 2016.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas won the race to get an F1 team on the grid back in 2014, and has spent the past 18 months meticulously planning its arrival in the sport.

Haas F1 Team’s full debut is now just five weeks away, with the first on-track test of its new car coming on February 22 in Barcelona.

Grosjean walked away from Lotus at the end of last year to join Haas for the new season, where he will race alongside former Ferrari reserve Esteban Gutierrez.

In a post on his Twitter account on Saturday, Grosjean unveiled his new helmet design for the 2016 season, featuring plenty of Haas signage.

Grosjean also revealed earlier this week that he would be racing with a tribute to Jules Bianchi on his helmet, who died at the age of 25 last July.