WATCH LIVE: FP2 for the Belgian Grand Prix

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After Mercedes closed out first practice for the Belgian Grand Prix at the top of the timesheets with relative ease, it appears that the battle at Spa-Francorchamps will once again be between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg this weekend following F1’s summer break.

It was Rosberg who took the honors in FP1, finishing just under one-tenth of a second clear of Hamilton, whilst Fernando Alonso finished as the best of the rest for Ferrari in third place. The Silver Arrows will be looking to continue this form in the second session on Friday afternoon.

You can watch FP2 live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET. CLICK HERE to watch via live stream.

Mercedes is expected to be particularly dominant at Spa, given the high-speed nature of the circuit. However, Williams could yet come into play, with this circuit set to play to the strengths of the FW36 car.

Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Force India will all also be vying to finish on the podium in Belgium, creating a tantalizing battle for the weekend ahead. Quite simply, it is too close to call.

We may get a better idea during FP2, but the session will run without American driver Alexander Rossi. Marussia reneged on its plans to bench Max Chilton for the weekend and draft Rossi in, meaning that he will have to wait to end America’s wait for an F1 driver that stretches back to 2007.

Be sure to tune in to FP2 live on NBCSN and Live Extra at 8am ET. CLICK HERE to watch via live stream.

Also be sure to catch F1 Extra on NBCSN after practice at 9.30am, with the premiere of Off The Grid: Budapest following at 10am on the same channel.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”