Mercedes regains constructor’s lead with first 2017 1-2 in Canada

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Mercedes AMG Petronas has enjoyed a steady stream of 1-2 finishes since 2014. However, the team had yet to do so in the first six rounds of the 2017 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.

Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix, however, saw them return to their previously dominant form, with Lewis Hamilton leading Valtteri Bottas home for the team’s first 1-2 finish since last year’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, when Hamilton led home Nico Rosberg.

MONTREAL, QC – JUNE 11: Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO8 celebrates on track during the Canadian Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 11, 2017 in Montreal, Canada. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

The result also comes on the tenth anniversary of Hamilton’s first career Formula 1 victory, which occurred at this event back in 2007.

“I had my first pole here, win here 10 years ago. To repeat it is special, the guys back at the factory, (it) is special. We really gave it to the Ferraris. Valtteri came (second) too to give great points,” said an elated Hamilton on the podium.

Bottas, too, continues a strong record at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, with his third consecutive podium at the track in in five appearances.

MONTREAL, QC – JUNE 11: Valtteri Bottas driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO8 on track during the Canadian Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 11, 2017 in Montreal, Canada. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

“Fifth time here and third time on the podium. It’s a good place for me. As a team we really needed this 1-2. After a tough race in Monaco we improved so much in two weeks. So very proud to be a part of this,” Bottas revealed on the podium.

Bottas ran the second half of the race on Pirelli’s softs, gambling after being behind Esteban Ocon’s Force India in the first stint.

“At the beginning it was a bit tough being behind Red Bull. I got stuck behind a Force India and lost time,” he explained. “Then I went softs. (Lewis) controlled the race after that. For me it was bring the car home, bring good points. This was great. Looking forward to Baku.”

The result also vaults Mercedes into the lead in the constructor’s championship ahead of Scuderia Ferrari, with the tallies currently standing at 222 points for Mercedes and 214 for Ferrari.

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is next up on the Formula 1 calendar (June 25, NBCSN).

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‘Game-changing’ multi-year agreement will take INDYCAR, NBC Sports ‘to the next level’

Photo: Chris Estrada, NBC Sports
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NEW YORK – As the fourth Nor’easter in three weeks bore down on the Big Apple, it was tough to spot people that were clearly in a good mood.

But Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN, was clearly in a good mood.

On Wednesday morning at 10 am ET, we all found out why: NBC will become the exclusive home of the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500, starting in 2019.

The new three-year deal not only makes “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” part of the network’s “Championship Season” – its collection of high-profile championship events from May to July – but also reaffirms NBC’s status as the home of motorsports television in the United States.

That status is something Miller doesn’t take for granted.

“It’s important people know that storytelling is in our DNA, and motorsports lends itself very well to storytelling,” Miller said as he, INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles and driver James Hinchcliffe made a snowy trek to the New York Stock Exchange to promote the deal on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”

“We’ve had great success with the second half of the entire NASCAR season, and then we’ve had half of the IndyCar package [since 2009] … But we never had the real meat of the series and that didn’t set anybody up for success.

“Having the entire package of IndyCar now – all 17 races, qualifying, practice, you name it – really sets IndyCar on a strong path and solidifies NBC’s position as the home of motorsports. I think it becomes a property much like the Premier League, the NHL, and even the Olympics and the Triple Crown. We have 100 percent of the media opportunity and we can put all those great assets behind it.”

With the storm no doubt keeping some traders home, the floor of the NYSE was relatively subdued. But that made it no less important to be at the heart of Wall Street. Miles and his team are pursuing a new title sponsor for the IndyCar Series to replace Verizon, which will fully focus its efforts in the series with the powerhouse Team Penske going forward in 2019.

The new deal – which includes 8 races per year on the NBC network (with the remaining races going to NBCSN), live streaming of all races, and a direct-to-consumer package with NBC Sports Gold – gave Miles plenty to push for any potential backers. As for Hinchcliffe, he held his own nicely in an interview that also explored IndyCar’s global ambitions, the impact of technology on the sport, and of course, his spin around the ballroom on “Dancing with the Stars.”

On the ride back to 30 Rock, Miles was confident that NBC can play a big role in attracting a sponsor that can help the series keep growing.

“With respect to our work in finding the best title sponsor, it’s really important – and this has not been talked about much – but we expect to work with hand in glove with NBC’s sales,” he explained. “We have the opportunity to create packages which are both broadcast sponsorship and series sponsorship, I think, in a way that doesn’t come along very often.

“Usually, the media deal and the sponsorship deal doesn’t align like this, so we’re really excited about the offering we’ll have and the approach to the market we can take.”

Should the partnership with NBC bear fruit on that front and others, it will only add to the upswing that the IndyCar Series has had in recent years.

Hinchcliffe has been a witness to that. He entered the series in 2011, when it was trying to find its footing after the sport’s reunification three years earlier. After 13 years of CART vs. the Indy Racing League, getting everything back under one roof was not a smooth process.

But fast-forward seven years, and things have changed for the better. TV ratings and digital viewers have gone up. Race scheduling has become more stable and enhanced with the return of traditional open-wheel markets. And this year’s debut of the universal aero kit aims to pump up the action on the track, while also giving the cars a cleaner, meaner look.

Now, with NBC all in, Hinchcliffe is bullish on his sport’s future.

“This is a game-changing thing for us,” he declared. “If you look at the last four or five years, we’ve seen a steady growth in pretty much every measureable metric that there is – in a time where, globally, motorsports is in a bit of a downturn.

“The fact that IndyCar was able to rally against a global dip in motorsports interest, attendance, sponsorship – it speaks volumes to what we have been doing and this is just gonna take us to that next level.”