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Italian Grand Prix set to cap European season this week on NBCSN

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The Italian Grand Prix concludes Formula 1’s European season this weekend on NBCSN, as the second leg of a back-to-back trip for the series after last week’s Belgian Grand Prix.

NBCSN will feature live coverage for free practice two, qualifying and the race this weekend at the traditional European race time slots of 8 a.m. ET both Friday and Saturday for practice and qualifying, and a full hour of pre-race coverage Sunday for the race.

Usual free practice one and three coverage airs live exclusively on the NBC Sports App, which streams all sessions.

The Autodromo Nazionale di Monza is the spiritual home of F1, and the official home for Ferrari’s fan base – the tifosi – where nothing less than victory will do.

Ferrari has won the Italian Grand Prix 19 times, but hasn’t won there since 2010 when Fernando Alonso did so in his first year with the team. That’s been Ferrari’s lone win in the last decade at Monza since Michael Schumacher’s emotional, memorable 2006 win when he announced his first retirement from the sport the same weekend.

Sebastian Vettel’s won at Monza three times, in 2008 with Toro Rosso in both his and the team’s first career victory, then with Red Bull in 2011 and 2013. With Ferrari, Vettel finished second in 2015 and third last year.

Mercedes has won the last three races at Monza with Nico Rosberg winning last year and Lewis Hamilton winning in 2014 and 2015. Hamilton also has a 2012 Monza win with McLaren on his resume.

A pole for Hamilton this weekend would be his 69th in his career, and set the all-time mark, breaking a tie with Schumacher.

A win for Hamilton would see him become the first driver to win back-to-back races in the 13th round of the season and would, at worse, see him move into a tie with Vettel for the championship lead. Vettel leads Hamilton by seven points, 220-213, the same gap as the difference between first and second in a single race (25 to 18 points).

Alonso, twice a winner at Monza as he also won in 2007 with McLaren, is the only other active Italian Grand Prix winner in the field. Kimi Raikkonen has never won at Monza for Ferrari.

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

  • Practice 1: Friday, Sept. 1, 4 a.m.-5:30 a.m. ET (Story; Watch replay)
  • Practice 2: Friday, Sept. 1, 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m. ET (Story; Watch replay)
  • Practice 2 (Replay): Saturday, Sept. 2, 6:30 a.m.-8 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 3: Saturday, Sept. 2, 5 a.m.-6 a.m. ET (Watch replay)
  • Qualifying: Saturday, Sept. 2, 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m. ET (Watch replay)
  • Qualifying (Replay): Sunday, Sept. 3, 1:30 a.m.-3 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Pre-Race: Sunday, Sept. 3, 7 a.m.-8 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race: Sunday, Sept. 3, 8 a.m.-10 a.m. ET (Full storyWatch replay)
  • Post-Race: Sunday, Sept. 3, 10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Formula 2: Sunday, Sept. 3, 6 a.m.-7 a.m. ET (Watch replay)

The next race is the Singapore Grand Prix, on September 17.

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.