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P3 on grid in Malaysia a ‘good birthday present’ for Max Verstappen

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Max Verstappen has called third place on the grid for the Malaysian Grand Prix a “pretty good birthday present” after turning 20 on Saturday in Sepang.

Verstappen made his F1 debut at the tender age of 17 and became the sport’s youngest ever winner at 18, but can no longer be called a “teen sensation”.

Nevertheless, Verstappen once again displayed his undeniable talent by taking third on the grid in Malaysia despite Red Bull’s fears it would lag behind both Mercedes and Ferrari in the dry.

Verstappen finished just half a second back from pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton, giving him encouragement for the race on Sunday.

“Third in qualifying is a pretty good birthday present today. The whole weekend I was not fully happy with the car and in the last practice session I didn’t have the perfect balance, but in qualifying we managed to pull it together and the car was pretty good,” Verstappen said.

“To be four or five tenths off pole position on this track and knowing they can turn up their engines in qualifying means we are doing a good job. I think on the long runs we are a bit more competitive so I’m definitely looking forward to tomorrow.”

Having retired from six races so far this season, Verstappen’s main aim is getting to the finish line in Singapore and picking up some much-needed points, given he currently sits level with Force India’s Sergio Perez in the constructors’ championship.

“So far on Saturdays I’ve been a happy guy and on Sundays that has changed. Let’s hope it is different tomorrow and I’m sure we can have a good race,” Verstappen said.

“I’m also hoping for no sandwiches!”

Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo will start fourth, having slipped half a tenth of a second back from Verstappen in Q3.

“I did all I could today and I think we both got the most out of the car,” Ricciardo said. “We’re half a second from Lewis around here so I think we can be pretty happy with that. It gives us a chance in the race tomorrow even if it’s dry.

“I would have loved to be on third today, but that half a tenth was actually Max’s birthday gift from me and I wanted to start on fourth really, because that’s where I started last year and I won.

“This is obviously all planned in my mind. I did a bit of a lift of the throttle just before the finish line, so yeah, it’s of course all calculated…”

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.