Hungarian GP highlights 30+ hours of motorsports coverage across NBC, NBCSN and CNBC this weekend

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The final grand prix before the mid-season break in Formula 1 is set to highlight over 30 hours of motorsports coverage across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC and NBC Sports Live Extra this weekend.

The Hungarian Grand Prix is a favorite among the fans and the drivers in the sport, and will see Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg do battle once again for the lead of the drivers’ championship.

F1 HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX – SUNDAY AT 7:30 A.M. ET ON CNBC

NBC Sports Group’s comprehensive coverage of the F1 Hungarian Grand Prix begins Friday at 4 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Live Extra with Practice 1, followed by Practice 2 at 8 a.m. ET, which NBCSN will present at Noon ET. Live Extra will carry Practice 3 on Saturday at 5 a.m. ET, followed by live qualifying coverage at 8 a.m. ET on CNBC.

CNBC’s live Hungarian Grand Prix coverage begins Sunday at 7:30 a.m. ET, followed by F1 Extra at 10 a.m. ET. NBCSN will air an encore presentation of qualifying on Saturday at Noon ET, and an encore of the Hungarian Grand Prix at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday. NBCSN will also air the GP2 race from Hungary on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET.

Last week, Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) ran away with the German Grand Prix for his fourth victory of the season to increase his lead over teammate Lewis Hamilton to 14 points, as Hamilton finished in third position. Hamilton will look to rebound at Hungaroring where he’s won four times in his F1 career, including the past two Hungarian Grands Prix.

Lead F1 announcer Leigh Diffey will call the Hungarian Grand Prix, and will be joined by veteran analyst and former racecar driver David Hobbs, and analyst and former race mechanic for the Benetton F1 team Steve Matchett. F1 insider Will Buxton will serve as the team’s on-site reporter from Hungaroring in Mogyorod, Hungary, and will also call the GP2 race.

RED BULL GLOBAL RALLYCROSS CHARLOTTE – SATURDAY AT 2 P.M. ET ON NBC

NBC’s coverage of the 2014 Red Bull Global RallyCross Championship continues on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET from Charlotte, N.C. Last week, Tanner Foust (Volkswagen Andretti) snapped a 12-race winless streak with a win in New York. Nelson Piquet Jr. (SH Racing) finished second in New York to maintain his 35-point lead over Scott Speed (Volkswagen Andretti) in the point standings.

Veteran motorsports play-by-play announcer Tes Sewell will call the action on Saturday on-site from The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway, joined by motorsports analystTownsend Bell and reporter Kristen Kenney.

RED BULL HARE SCRAMBLE – SATURDAY AT 3:30 P.M. ET ON NBC

Following Red Bull Global RallyCross coverage on Saturday, NBC will present the Red Bull Hare Scramble, one of the world’s most difficult off-road motorcycle races, at 3:30 p.m. ET.Sal Masekela, the definitive voice in action sports, will call the event alongside Leigh Diffey, analyst and off-road driver Cameron Steele and reporter Tina Dixon.

MECUM AUCTIONS: HARRISBURG – THURSDAY-SATURDAY ON NBCSN

NBCSN’s Mecum Auctions coverage continues this week from their Harrisburg auction today at 5:30 p.m. ET. NBCSN will present its second day of Mecum Auctions: Harrisburg coverage on Friday at 5:30 p.m. ET, followed by live coverage on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Scott Hoke will host NBCSN’s Mecum Auctions coverage on-site at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg, Pa., alongside analysts John Kraman,Stephen Cox, and Bill Stephens. Mecum Auctions is led by Dana Mecum, Founder and President of Mecum Auctions for the past 27 years.

LUCAS OIL PRO MOTOCROSS WASHOUGAL NATIONAL – SATURDAY AT 6 P.M. ET ON NBCSN

NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will combine to present five hours of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Washougal National coverage from Washougal, Wash. on Saturday. Coverage starts on Live Extra at 1:30 p.m.. ET with practice, followed by the pre-race show at 3:15 p.m. ET. Race coverage begins at 4 p.m. ET on Live Extra with 1st Motos, followed by live coverage of 2nd Motos at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Last weekend, Eli Tomac took the 450 Class at Spring Creek National for his first career win, while Millville native Jeremy Martin won the 250 Class for his fourth podium of the season.

Veteran play-by-play voice Jason Weigandt, analyst and two-time AMA Pro Motocross Champion Grant Langston, and pit reporter Georgia Lindsay will call the action from Washougal National in Washougal, Wash.

Motorsports Coverage This Week on NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra (subject to change):

Date Program Time (ET) Network
Thurs., July 24 NASCAR America 5 p.m. NBCSN
Mecum Auctions – Harrisburg 5:30 p.m. NBCSN
Red Bull Global RallyCross New York (Encore) 11 p.m. NBCSN
Fri., July 25 F1 Hungarian Grand Prix – Practice 1 4 a.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
F1 Hungarian Grand Prix – Practice 2 8 a.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
Fri., July 25 F1 Hungarian Grand Prix – Practice 2 (Encore) Noon NBCSN
NASCAR America 5 p.m. NBCSN
Mecum Auctions – Harrisburg 5:30 p.m. NBCSN
Motocross Highlight Series 11 p.m. NBCSN
Sat., July 26 F1 Hungarian Grand Prix – Practice 3 5 a.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
F1 Hungarian Grand Prix – Qualifying 8 a.m. CNBC
F1 Hungarian Grand Prix – Qualifying (Encore) Noon NBCSN
Mecum Auctions – Harrisburg 1:30 p.m. NBCSN
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Washougal – Practice 1:30 p.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
Red Bull Global RallyCross Charlotte 2 p.m. NBC
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Washougal – Pre-Show 3:15 p.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
Red Bull Hare Scramble 3:30 p.m. NBC
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Washougal – 1stMotos 4 p.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
GP2 Hungary 5 p.m. NBCSN
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Washougal – 2nd Motos 6 p.m. NBCSN
Sun., July 27 F1 Hungarian Grand Prix 7:30 a.m. CNBC
F1 Extra 10 a.m. CNBC
F1 Hungarian Grand Prix (Encore) 2 p.m. NBCSN
F1 Extra (Encore) 4:30 p.m. NBCSN

 

F1 Preview – 2018 French Grand Prix

Photo: Getty Images
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It’s hard to believe that the French Grand Prix, the oldest grand prix event on the planet, as it dates back to June of 1906, was ever removed from the Formula 1 calendar.

Alas, not since 2008 at Magny-Cours has Formula 1 held a race on French soil. Yet, that all changes this weekend, as Formula 1 visits the Circuit Paul Ricard for its first French race in a decade.

Formula 1 teams are not strangers to Paul Ricard. It has been a popular testing facility for years, as evidenced by the below photo from 2016, featuring Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari in a wet tire test.

LE CASTELLET, FRANCE – JANUARY 26: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Scuderia Ferrari drives during wet weather tire testing at Circuit Paul Ricard on January 26, 2016 in Le Castellet, France. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

However, in terms of racing, Paul Ricard has also been absent from the calendar for quite a long time – the last time Formula 1 race at Paul Ricard was in 1990. Alain Prost won for Ferrari that day.

1990: Alain Prost of France punches the air in celebration after passing the chequered flag in his Scuderia Ferrari to win the French Grand Prix at the Paul Ricard circuit in Le Beausset, France. Mandatory Credit: Pascal Rondeau/Allsport

As such, despite being a known quantity as a testing facility, how a race weekend will shake out is anybody’s guess.

And what’s more, it marks the beginning of three consecutive race weekends – The French Grand Prix, The Austrian Grand Prix, and The British Grand Prix – which F1 teams and drivers are calling “the triple header.”

Talking points ahead of the French Grand Prix are below.

A Journey Into the Unknown?

Like all new venues, or resurrected and refurbished ones in this case, the Circuit Paul Ricard represents somewhat of an unknown, as there’s no available race data to make predictions off of.

And the 3.61-mile, 15-turn track itself represents a range of challenges. It has fast corners, like Turns 1 and 2 (S de la Verrerie), a technical section between Turns 3 and 7 (Virage de l’Hotel through the Mistral Straight Start), and a 1.1-mile straightaway in the Mistral Straight, though it is separated by a chicane (Turns 8 and 9).

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff discussed the challenge of the circuit, highlighting the lack of data to build off of as well the tough three-race stretch ahead as especially challenging, in a preview on Formula 1’s website.

“France should be an interesting race. We don’t often get to race on a track where we have little to no historical data. It makes preparing for the weekend a bit trickier than usual, but that element of the unknown also adds to the challenge. The French Grand Prix marks the first race of the triple header, which will test all F1 teams to their limits, but also offers the chance to score a lot of points over the course of three weeks – which is precisely what we’re setting out to do,” said Wolff.

That element of the unknown makes Paul Ricard one of the biggest wildcards on the 2018 F1 calendar, and a championship shake up could be in the cards as a result.

Ferrari, Mercedes Continue Their Back and Forth

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 25: Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H leads Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes WO9 on track during the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 25, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Ferrari and Mercedes have traded jabs throughout the 2018 season, with neither able to pull away from the other so far through seven races.

Sebastian Vettel enters the French Grand Prix with a one-point lead over Lewis Hamilton, and holds a slight edge in victories – three to Hamilton’s two – and comes off a thorough domination of the Canadian Grand Prix.

Vettel led every lap at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on his way to victory, while Valtteri Bottas had to carry the Mercedes flag in finishing second. Hamilton languished in fifth, a surprising and disappointing result given his previous success there.

The aforementioned Toto Wolff described it as a “wake up call,” though Mercedes will roll out a power unit upgrade this weekend – Ferrari and Renault, which also powers Red Bull Racing, rolled out upgrades of their own in Canada.

With four long straightaways present at Paul Ricard, power will certainly be at a premium, so such upgrades will be vital in giving Mercedes a chance to make amends after Canada’s disappointment.

Trio of French Drivers Look to Impress on Home Soil

It comes hardly as a surprise that the three French drivers – Romain Grosjean, Pierre Gasly, and Esteban Ocon – are keen to make an impression at their home race.

And all three could certainly use a boost. Gasly has only one finish inside the points (seventh in the Monaco Grand Prix) since his stellar fourth place effort in the Bahrain Grand Prix. Ocon is coming off back-to-back points finishes (sixth in Monaco, ninth in Canada), but he has only one other finish inside the points this year (tenth, in Bahrain). And Grosjean, despite showing the speed to finish in the points, is yet to score any in 2018.

As such, all three are hoping for big things in their home race this weekend.

“I want to get a good weekend, have some luck, get my first points of the season, and get a lot of support from the fans,” said Grosjean. “I think we should be in a nice place at Paul Ricard. I’m always looking forward to jumping back in the car. I just love driving an F1 car.”

Ocon, who has raced and won at Paul Ricard in the past, expects his prior experience could be a big help.

“I did race at Paul Ricard early in my career – it was actually where I had my first victory in single seaters in 2013 so I have some fantastic memories of the place,” Ocon described. “I hope we can add some more success this weekend. Having been there in the junior categories makes getting used to a new track in a Formula One car much easier. I think I will find my rhythm quite quickly.”

Gasly’s excitement level obviously matches that of his French compatriots, with the added bonus that the return coincides with his rookie F1 effort.

“For me it will be absolutely incredible that my first full season of Formula 1 coincides with the return of a French Grand Prix to the calendar for the first time in 10 years,” said Gasly. “That has to be a reason for me to be very happy and I’m really excited to be racing in my home country. I can tell it will be a special feeling going out on track and actually, I have spoken to Jean Alesi and Alain Prost about it and they both told me that it will feel really special and something that you really have to experience as a Frenchman racing in France.”

Qualifying for The French Grand Prix begins at 9:55 a.m. ET on Saturday, with Sunday’s race at 9:30 a.m. ET.

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