‘F1 Live London’ wows crowds, unites almost whole F1 field (PHOTOS)

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The inaugural “F1 Live London” is likely to be considered a smashing success, after an all-day event that took over Trafalgar Square and later featured a car parade in Whitehall.

The brainchild of new Formula 1 owners Liberty Media, the quickly organized and announced takeover was meant to bring the field together before this weekend’s British Grand Prix up the road at Silverstone (times across CNBC, NBC Sports app here).

And certainly while the event would wow hardcore Formula 1 fans, the mix of events – a STEM-focused presentation for youngsters started the afternoon before the car demonstrations and live music took over in the evening – the draw was always meant to engage new fans, which is part of Liberty Media’s goal. The event was live streamed on Formula 1’s official website and on its YouTube channel, something that would have been hard to foresee in the previous era of leadership.

“This is the start of the new regime – taking it back to the people that love Formula 1,” Ross Brawn, Managing Director, Motor Sports, said on stage during one of the interviews before the cars ran.

“This is so encouraging to us. When we see the support that these events create. These guys are the heroes, but we need to bring them out and show them a lot more than in the past. It’s so motivating to see them out there. It’s amazing to see here in London!”

Besides the field of almost all 20 drivers – Lewis Hamilton was a notable no-show on holiday (more on that in a separate post) – the number of F1 luminaries also included the last two World Champions who’ve moved on from full-time driving in Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button, past Renault veteran Rene Arnoux, and a host of British drivers turned TV pundits in Martin Brundle, David Coulthard, Damon Hill, Johnny Herbert and John Watson.

“It’s absolutely amazing – look at this!” Button exclaimed in his interview. “We need to say a big thank you to you guys. Having you guys here makes it for us. The ‘F1 LIVE LONDON’ is fantastic. Most of you are Formula 1 fans and excited about the Grand Prix, but I’m guessing we’ve got some here who weren’t going to Silverstone. Kids doing pit stop practice which is amazing.

“So thanks to this guy (Brawn)… not for the World Championship, but for making this happen. It’s the first time every single team present at an event that isn’t a Grand Prix. It’s so special for London and for Formula 1.”

Arnoux’s presence meant there were, in fact, 20 full drivers on the stage when the presenters introduced the field as he joined Renault’s full-season drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer. Palmer, somewhat keen to appreciate the moment, joined Arnoux in a throwback firesuit as the only British driver present ahead of the British Grand Prix.

The demonstration laps that ran featured some key highlights. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, in particular, wowed the crowd with a smoke show through his run in the previously all conquering Red Bull RB7 chassis, the car that Sebastian Vettel drove to a dominant World Championship victory in the 2011 season.

Vettel also impressed the crowd in his run, and certainly gained some new fans on a day when his championship adversary loomed large by his absence.

Some of the photos – there was no way to capture all of them – are below on what was a great afternoon and evening for the sport.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 11: A Red Bull Racing Showcar takes its place on Trafalgar Square in the build up to the F1 Live London event taking place on Wednesday 12th July from 12pm to 9pm. The spectacular show will feature Formula 1 teams, drivers and cars, alongside a host of stars and headline music acts,ahead of the British Grand Prix, at Trafalgar Square on July 11, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Patrik Lundin/Getty Images for Formula 1)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: Ex F1 World Champion Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren Honda at the Pirelli Pit Stop Challenge stand during F1 Live London at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London. (Photo by Patrik Lundin/Getty Images for Formula 1)
during F1 Live London at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London.
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: A general view of race cars at the F1 Live in London event at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Formula 1)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: A general view of Ferrari and Red Bull race cars at the F1 Live in London event at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Formula 1)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: Chase Carey, CEO and Executive Chairman of the Formula One Group poses for a photo during F1 Live London at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images for Formula 1)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: A general view of fans as they take photos a Red Ball race car at the F1 Live in London event at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Formula 1)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: Young fans attempt a tyre change at the F1 Live in London event at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Formula 1)
on stage at the F1 Live in London event at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London.
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: A general view from the air showing the course for the showruns during F1 Live London at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images for Formula 1)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari prepares to drive during F1 Live London at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London. (Photo by Patrik Lundin/Getty Images for Formula 1)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Mercedes GP greets fans during F1 Live London at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London. (Photo by Patrik Lundin/Getty Images for Formula 1)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: Bastille perform on stage at the F1 Live in London event at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Formula 1)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: A general view at the F1 Live in London event at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Formula 1)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: (L-R) David Coulthard, Rochelle Humes, Johnny Herbert, Damon Hill, John Watson and Jake Humphrey on stage at the F1 Live in London event at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Formula 1)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: (L-R) Jake Humphrey, Maurizio Arrivabene, Christian Horner, Toto Wolff and Rochelle Humes on stage at the F1 Live in London event at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Formula 1)
on stage at the F1 Live in London event at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London.
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: Fans enjoy the event during F1 Live London at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images for Formula 1)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: Stoffel Vandoorne of Belgium and McLaren Honda drives the MP4-6 during F1 Live London at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images for Formula 1)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: Lance Stroll of Canada and Williams drives the Williams FW36 during F1 Live London at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London. (Photo by Patrik Lundin/Getty Images for Formula 1)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: Pascal Wehrlein of Germany and Sauber F1 drives the Sauber C32 during F1 Live London at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images for Formula 1)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing, Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing and Felipe Massa of Brazil and Williams prepare to drive during F1 Live London at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London. (Photo by Patrik Lundin/Getty Images for Formula 1)
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: Carlos Sainz of Spain and Scuderia Toro Rosso drives the STR8 during F1 Live London at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London. (Photo by Patrik Lundin/Getty Images for Formula 1)
during F1 Live London at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London.
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari driving the Ferrari SF15-T during F1 Live London at Trafalgar Square on July 12, 2017 in London, England. F1 Live London, the first time in Formula 1 history that all 10 teams come together outside of a race weekend to put on a show for the public in the heart of London. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images for Formula 1)

NASCAR America: Newgarden recaps rise to IndyCar title (VIDEO)

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Newly crowned Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden joined NBCSN’s NASCAR America on Tuesday to reflect on his rise to the top of the series.

Newgarden chatted with show host Carolyn Manno about his championship season, integration to Team Penske and bonding with his three teammates, Will Power, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud.

Pagenaud won Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma season finale but it wasn’t enough to overcome Newgarden’s points lead.

 

Report: Verizon likely to drop IndyCar title sponsorship after ’18

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One of the under-the-radar elements that’s percolated in the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock this year is Verizon’s activation strategy itself, in its fourth year of its first five-year deal as title sponsor of the championship.

Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles, head of INDYCAR’s parent company, told the Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern while he thinks it’s likely Verizon will end its title sponsorship of the series after 2018, they hope to continue the relationship in a different capacity.

While Verizon got in before 2014, IndyCar was a viable platform for the wireless company to activate in a way it couldn’t in NASCAR, when Sprint was the Cup Series’ title sponsor.

That’s since changed with Sprint’s contract ending after 2016. Verizon still activates within the paddock, working with CSM Sport & Entertainment, but its activation outside the paddock has seemed rather limited this year.

Verizon’s primary point of access or reference point of digital technology has been the Verizon IndyCar Mobile app, which was initially only for Verizon Wireless users but was later expanded to other carriers. That provides some app-specific exclusive content as well as a compilation of written, photographic and video content from IndyCar.com.

Even in the paddock, a Verizon-sponsored “Lunch with Legends” series – where some of IndyCar’s stars from the past had lunch at tracks with fans to provide some exclusive access – was not retained for 2017. Verizon hosted an event at a 5G-outfitted house in Indianapolis this year, prior to the Indianapolis 500, to showcase some of that network capability and virtual reality (VR) technology.

Provided Verizon does not continue as title sponsor past 2018, it would leave the IndyCar series in almost the same situation as prior title sponsor IZOD was in 2013, with a lame duck year.

The absence of a Verizon contract renewal has lurked beneath the surface all year in a year when INDYCAR (sanctioning body) has announced several long-term extensions with key manufacturer partners Dallara, Firestone, Chevrolet, Honda and many of its race tracks.

The competition side of IndyCar has done rather well and has enough momentum with Jay Frye at the head of its President of Competition and Operations for the last two years.

But it’s imperative for IndyCar’s sake its commercial side does as well too, which will make the 2018 season an interesting one from a “how to progress” and find a partner that can truly activate to lift the series’ profile even bigger than it is now.

The title sponsor evolution and the series’ new TV contract, with the current one set to end after 2018, enter as the early leaders in the clubhouse for biggest off-track stories to follow over the winter and into the start of 2018.

Vettel loses huge ground in title race after Singapore blip

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SINGAPORE (AP) In the space of three races, Sebastian Vettel has dropped twice as far behind Lewis Hamilton as he was ahead of him.

After winning the Hungarian Grand Prix in late July, Vettel led by 14 points, with both drivers on four wins heading into the summer break.

But after crashing out on the first lap in Sunday’s Singapore GP, the Ferrari driver trails Hamilton by 28.

“That was very disappointing and it was definitely not the result we were expecting,” Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene said. “But it doesn’t mean that the battle is all over, just that it has become more difficult.”

Yet it might seem to Mercedes that, for all of his experience, Vettel is throwing away the Formula One title.

“Clearly we would not feel comfortable in Ferrari’s shoes,” Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff said. “But this is not the time for cheering.”

Hamilton has won all three races relatively comfortably since the championship resumed in August, and with only six GPs remaining Vettel faces a huge task to stop Hamilton.

“We guarantee that we will be fighting right to the final corner of the very last Grand Prix of the year,” Arrivabene said.

Mercedes is still expecting a challenge.

“This result doesn’t change a thing in the big picture,” Wolff said. “If anything, it’s a stark reminder that there are six more opportunities for the luck to go against us this season, just as it happened to Ferrari.”

But it will be abundantly harder now for Vettel because, unlike last season, Hamilton has so far not retired from any races. Although he has failed to finish on the podium four times for Mercedes this season, that is the same number as Vettel’s finishes outside the top three.

After winning three of the first six races, Vettel’s grip has loosened with only one win in the past eight.

Points have been thrown away, too.

At the British GP in July, Vettel looked at least assured of a podium finish until an unexpected tire problem at the end of the race bumped him down to seventh.

On Sunday, he had a great chance to win starting from pole position on a hard-braking track much more suited to Ferrari than Mercedes.

A few seconds later, he was out of the race.

Vettel made a hasty error of judgment trying to cut off Max Verstappen heading into the first turn and ultimately caused a crash that also took out Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen – who had made a blistering start – Verstappen and Fernando Alonso.

Vettel apologized to his Ferrari team afterward.

With both Ferraris out, Mercedes had a clear path as Hamilton won his 60th career race and teammate Valtteri Bottas took third.

Mercedes faced a similar scenario at the Spanish GP last year, when Hamilton and then-teammate Nico Rosberg collided on lap 1 and both went out. Mercedes was livid with both drivers that day, and came perilously close to imposing team orders on them.

“You kind of feel for Ferrari. I have been in the situation of losing both cars,” Wolff said. “I know how bitter this is.”

The difference was that Hamilton and Rosberg were fighting each other for the title and, with no main rival from another team, it effectively cost them nothing.

Within Mercedes, Hamilton’s title charge is now the priority.

Although team orders are very unlikely to be imposed, it is clear – unofficially at least – that Bottas will be racing to help Hamilton equal Vettel on four world titles.

Wolff confirmed as much when he inadvertently referred to Bottas as “our second driver” in his post-race debriefing on Sunday, before quickly correcting himself to say “ah, other driver.”

Bottas has had a fine first season since joining as an emergency late replacement for Rosberg, who retired days after winning the 2016 title. Bottas has even exceeded expectations with 10 podiums in 14 races, including two wins, and sits in third place overall.

With a new contract for next year already signed, the Finnish driver has no need to impress Mercedes management and can play an ideal support role to Hamilton in the closing part of the campaign.

Still, he has a little bit of ambition left.

“There are plenty of races to come and plenty of opportunities,” said Bottas, who is 23 points behind Vettel. “Definitely Sebastian is the next target.”

With Hamilton ahead and Bottas closing behind, Vettel is under pressure to deliver at the Malaysian GP in two weeks’ time.

Ocon confirmed for another year at Force India

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Sahara Force India will keep the same driver lineup in 2018, with Esteban Ocon confirming Tuesday he’ll stay alongside Sergio Perez next season.

Although the two drivers have occasionally been at odds this year as Ocon has threatened Perez’s place as team leader, both have been instrumental in keeping Force India a clear fourth place in the Constructor’s Championship, at the top of the crowded midfield behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

Ocon’s had a very strong year, with 56 points scored and having made the points in all but one race (Monaco) this season. His best finish is fifth at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Being confirmed for 2018 means like others, the jockeying for spots in 2019 will be fascinating to watch.