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Russian Grand Prix rounds out F1’s busy April schedule on NBCSN

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Formula 1’s three-race in four-week stretch this April concludes with next weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, which can you can see live on NBCSN.

Both the race and Friday’s second free practice session air live on NBCSN while live qualifying airs on CNBC, so note that change.

Mercedes AMG Petronas is a perfect three-for-three at the Russian Grand Prix since its arrival on the F1 calendar in 2014. Lewis Hamilton won the first two races here while Nico Rosberg won last year. For the German driver, it was his fourth consecutive victory to open the season en route to his eventual march to the World Championship title.

That means that although it is only a three-race sample size, the Russian Grand Prix winner has gone on to win the World Championship every year, as Hamilton won this race before capturing the 2014 and 2015 titles.

Sebastian Vettel and Scuderia Ferrari are off to their strongest start together, with Vettel having won earlier this week at Bahrain for his second win in three races this season. He leads Hamilton by seven points, 68-61, and the two drivers are already on the verge of a runaway from the rest of the field in the battle for the 2017 title.

Valtteri Bottas (38 points) and Kimi Raikkonen (34) are already 30 or more points behind Vettel after just three races in third and fourth place in the championship.

Vettel, Bottas and Raikkonen have had checkered records in Russia. Vettel was irate last year after getting taken out by his successor at Red Bull Racing, Daniil Kvyat, on Kvyat’s home soil. It marked Kvyat’s last race at Red Bull before he and Max Verstappen swapped rides.

Meanwhile Bottas and Raikkonen had an infamous collision when battling over third place on the last lap in 2015, which opened the door for Sahara Force India’s Sergio Perez to take a surprise but well-earned podium finish that day.

As noted above, all sessions will be broadcast on CNBC, NBCSN or via the NBC Sports App. Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett are on the call with Will Buxton reporting from the pits and paddock.

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

The next race is the Spanish Grand Prix, on May 14.

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.