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Vettel fastest in Malaysia FP2 as Grosjean crash ends session early

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Sebastian Vettel gave Ferrari a boost amid its ailing Formula 1 title bid by topping second practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Friday at Sepang, leading home teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

After seeing Max Verstappen finish P1 for Red Bull in a wet opening practice on Friday morning in Malaysia, Vettel made the most of the first dry running of the weekend to stamp his authority on proceedings.

Vettel turned in a fastest lap time of 1:31.261, finishing six-tenths of a second clear of Raikkonen in the sister Ferrari SF70H as rival teams Red Bull and Mercedes both struggled to keep up.

Daniel Ricciardo finished third-fastest for Red Bull ahead of Verstappen, while Fernando Alonso was a surprise name to feature in the top five for McLaren.

Mercedes entered the race weekend as the heavy favorite given the fast-flowing nature of the Sepang circuit, only for championship leader Lewis Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas to finish sixth and seventh, over 1.4 seconds off the pace.

Both drivers suffered early off-track excursions as they struggled for grip, with Hamilton spinning his car through the gravel at Turn 8 and Bottas heading off at Turn 11, damaging the underside of his Mercedes car.

The stand-out moment of the session came when a loose drain cover caused significant damage to Romain Grosjean’s Haas car, sending the Frenchman flying off the track and into the barrier at high-speed.

Grosjean was able to walk away unharmed, albeit a little shaken by the incident, with the session immediately being red flagged.

FIA race director Charlie Whiting ventured out onto the track to inspect the kerb where the drain cover had been kicked up, before quickly taking the decision to not restart the session due to the damage caused.

NBC Sports Group, INDYCAR partner on new TV and digital rights agreement starting in 2019

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NBC Sports Group and INDYCAR officials this morning announced a new partnership beginning in 2019 that will take the sport in an exciting new direction.

The new all-encompassing agreement includes TV and digital rights to all INDYCAR races — including the legendary Indianapolis 500. NBCSN has been INDYCAR’s cable partner since 2009, but this new agreement is all-encompassing and includes broadcast, cable, digital, streaming, and direct-to-consumer rights for all INDYCAR races, qualifying, practices and more.

All races will be carried live, with eight races — including the Indy 500 — on NBC, while the remaining races will be televised on NBCSN.

Here is the official news release announcing the new partnership:



New Agreement Includes Rights to All Races, Qualifying, and Practices

Indianapolis 500 Moves to NBC in 2019

Indy 500 and Seven Additional Races on NBC Annually; Remaining Races on NBCSN; All Races Live Streamed on and the NBC Sports app

NBC Sports Gold Direct-to-Consumer Package Includes Qualifying, Practices, Indy Lights, and Full-Event Replays

STAMFORD, Conn. – March 21, 2018 – NBC Sports Group and INDYCAR announced a new, multi-year media rights agreement today in which NBC Sports has acquired the rights to present all INDYCAR races, qualifying, practices, and Indy Lights races across its platforms beginning in 2019. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The Indianapolis 500 and seven additional Verizon IndyCar Series races will be broadcast annually on NBC, with all remaining races televised on NBCSN. All races will be live streamed to authenticated subscribers on and the NBC Sports app. Details of NBC Sports’ 2019 INDYCAR schedule will be announced at a later date.

NBC Sports Gold – NBC Sports Group’s direct-to-consumer product – will offer a package to INDYCAR fans that features all qualifying and practices not televised live, all Indy Lights races, and full-event replays. Additional details, including the cost of the Gold offering, will be announced at a later date.

“We’re excited to have NBC Sports serve as the exclusive home of INDYCAR, which represents the most competitive open-wheel racing in the world,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports and NBCSN. “We’re honored to bring the Indianapolis 500, one of the most prestigious events in all of sports, to NBC, further enhancing NBC Sports’ Championship Season. We’ve seen consistent growth for INDYCAR on NBCSN in the past decade, and we hope to continue that growth throughout the series by leveraging the television, digital, production and marketing assets that make NBC Sports a powerful media partner.”

“This arrangement brings all of INDYCAR to one home, increases our exposure and includes our first direct-to-consumer offer for our fans,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, which owns INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “We couldn’t be happier to have start-to-finish coverage of INDYCAR’s season with the NBC Sports Group.”

The 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500, set for Sunday, May 26, 2019, will be the first ever on NBC. The Indy 500 will also be included every year in NBC Sports’ Championship Season marketing campaign, which touts numerous high-profile championship events that are presented across NBC Sports platforms from May to July, including the Triple Crown, The PLAYERS, Premier League Championship Sunday, French Open, Stanley Cup Final, Tour de France, and The Open Championship.

The entire Verizon IndyCar Series will receive unprecedented marketing and promotional support from NBC Sports, which will utilize not only its own assets, but many NBCUniversal assets as well. With the Indy 500 and seven additional races on NBC, INDYCAR will have the second-most races on broadcast television in all of motorsports.