F1 Grand Prix of Germany - Race

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.

FIA confirms 2017 to 2020 set of engine regulations

SOCHI, RUSSIA - APRIL 29: Daniil Kvyat of Russia driving the (26) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on April 29, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
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The FIA has confirmed the regulations governing the 2017 to 2020 power units, following an agreement reached between the governing body, the four power unit manufacturers and the Commercial Rights Holder.

With the agreement reached by the World Motor Sport Council, these regulations will be included in the Technical and Sporting Regulations starting in 2017 and 2018.

Cost cutting is the primary objective of the new regs, although it’s one of four key areas outlined within the regulations. The others are supply, performance convergence and sound.

The cost cutting element first: in 2017, the power unit price for customer teams will be reduced by €1 million per season compared to 2016.

That’s the first step towards an even further reduction in 2018, with the annual supply cost to be reduced by a further €3 million.

The regulations seek to reduce the number of power units used per driver per season. Currently, the allowed number is four, with penalties coming into play if or when drivers exceed that number at a given point.

Supply is the next objective outline, with the regulations stating that the homologation will include an “obligation to supply” if a team were to face an absence of supply.

This hasn’t been an issue this year but could have propped up had Red Bull not got its own deal sorted. The key difference in phrasing is here is “obligation” and not “disagreement with supply.” The team has extended with its rebadged TAG Heuer (nee Renault) engines this year.

When we get to performance convergence, the token system for upgrades will be removed for 2017. Previously, each manufacturer had been allowed a certain number over the course of the year.

Finally on the sound component, the statement from the FIA reads: “Manufacturers are currently conducting a promising research programme into further improving the sound of the current power units, with the aim of implementation by 2018 at the latest.”

The 1.6L V6 turbos introduced in 2014 came under a fair bit of scrutiny for being quieter than the previous generation 2.4L V8s normally aspirated engines that ran through 2013. But there have been changes in pitch this year in particular and they’re on their way to being a more pleasing sound – all depends on the ear of course.

The 2017 regulations have been a hot topic this weekend in Sochi as the regulations were meant to be sorted in February, but delayed until the end of April. Figure there should be more to come with regards to the technical regulations in the coming days, if not hours.

Alexander Rossi returns to Manor F1 duties in Sochi

Alexander Rossi (USA) Manor Racing Rerserve Driver.
29.10.2016. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, Russian Grand Prix, Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia, Practice Day.
© Manor Racing
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Alexander Rossi made his first appearance of the year in the Formula 1 paddock on Thursday as he returned to work with Manor Racing in Sochi.

Rossi raced for Manor in five grands prix towards the end of 2015, but was dropped to make way for an all-new line-up of Rio Haryanto and Pascal Wehrlein.

Rossi sought refuge in IndyCar, taking the no. 98 Andretti Autosport/Bryan Herta Autosport joint entry ahead of the first race of the season in St. Petersburg.

However, it was announced shortly after that Rossi would also be joining Manor for a third time in the role of reserve driver, offering support on free weekends to the race team.

Despite racing at Barber last weekend and with the hectic month of May schedule at Indianapolis Motor Speedway about to begin, Rossi has managed to make his way over to Sochi for the Russian Grand Prix weekend.

Rosberg’s early championship lead ‘a big deal’ to Hamilton

SOCHI, RUSSIA - APRIL 29: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on April 29, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Lewis Hamilton is refusing to play down the significance of Nico Rosberg’s early lead at the top of the Formula 1 drivers’ championship in 2016, calling his 36-point advantage “a big deal”.

Hamilton entered 2016 looking to end Rosberg’s run of three straight victories to close out the 2015 season, only for the German to extend his streak to six by winning the opening three rounds of the year.

Hamilton has suffered a messy start to the season, with incidents in Bahrain and China plus a poor start in Australia limiting him to just 39 points from the first three races.

Rosberg has downplayed the significance of his early lead with 18 rounds still remaining in the season, but Hamilton believes it is important.

“For me that is a big deal,” Hamilton told the official F1 website.

“36 points are a lot of points. It is a race and a bit.

“But there is a flip side to this as well: it is an average of two points per race, so it is possible to make up. As long as it is not impossible, anything is possible.

“I have been racing for over 23 years so I have had a lot of challenges before, and some of them were probably even bigger. From the get go, the first year of racing, the first championship that I have battled in, to the first one I have lost.”

Mercedes worked on its start procedure after poor getaways in the first two races, but Hamilton is happy with his last jump off the line in China – although he did start from 22nd after an engine issue in qualifying.

“I don’t think that I need to do any more [work on starts] now,” Hamilton said.

“I think I had the best start of the entire grid at the last race. We have been working of course on that issue.

“The last two races I have been driving with a loss of performance of nearly one second per race and been trying to climb a mountain with that, which was not so easy.

“I would like to have a good and clean weekend this race – and apply a good start.”

Hamilton will be looking to end Rosberg’s run of victories in Russia this weekend, with all of the action from Sochi being broadcast across CNBC, NBCSN and Live Extra.

Hamilton back on top in Russia FP2

SOCHI, RUSSIA - APRIL 29: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on April 29, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Lewis Hamilton topped the charts during second free practice for this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, the first time he’s led a session since taking pole in Q3 for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Hamilton posted his best time of the session early at 1:37.583 in the Mercedes W07, which was six tenths and change up on Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel’s session was halted early with an electronics issue, which brought out a virtual safety car period with just under an hour left in the 90-minute session. Both Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen are using a new internal combustion engine this weekend.

Nico Rosberg was a bit further off in third at 0.867 of a second back, before the rest of the session settled into the usual longer runs.

Romain Grosjean had a spin in the Haas but resumed, while Manor had a nightmare session. Both Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto spun and Wehrlein parked on the side of the road right at the checkered flag, having lost power.

The hope is that the race evolves into something more than a one-stopper; Pirelli’s medium compounds are rare this weekend with a majority of the field running longest on the soft compound and also using the supersoft as the sofest compound.

FP3 runs at 5 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Live Extra tomorrow morning, before LIVE qualifying airs on CNBC from 8 a.m. ET tomorrow.

Times are below: