NBC, NBCSN set for mega U.S. Grand Prix weekend of coverage from Austin

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NBC Sports Group will present comprehensive coverage of the Formula One™ United States Grand Prix from Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, next FridaySunday, Oct. 31-Nov. 2, including practice, qualifying and culminating in NBC’s live presentation of the U.S. Grand Prix on Sunday, Nov. 2 at 3 p.m. ET.

For the first time ever, NBC Sports Group will present live qualifying on NBC on Saturday, Nov. 1, beginning at 1 p.m. ET, as well as complete coverage of all three practice sessions across NBC and NBCSN.

NBC Sports Group F1 broadcast team, led by lead play-by-play commentator Leigh Diffey, will be on-site at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas to host all practice, qualifying and United States Grand Prix coverage. Diffey will be joined by analyst and former racecar driver David Hobbs, analyst and former race mechanic for the Benetton F1 team Steve Matchett, F1 insider Will Buxton, and motorsports reporter Kelli Stavast.

NBC Sports Group’s United States Grand Prix coverage will feature numerous interviews and features with F1 drivers and team executives, as well as the premiere of Road To Mercedes, an in-depth look at the history of Mercedes-Benz in motorsport.

NBC Sports Live Extra – NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, and tablets – will live stream all three practices, qualifying and the U.S. Grand Prix next weekend.

F1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX – SUNDAY, NOV. 2 ON NBC

Coverage of the U.S. Grand Prix begins with a 60-minute edition of F1 Countdown, NBC Sports Group’s live F1 pre-race show, on NBCSN at 2 p.m. ET for 30 minutes, and shifts over to NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET, leading into the U.S. Grand Prix at 3 p.m. ET.

F1 Countdown will feature sit-down interviews between Diffey and Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci, as well as motorsports Stavast with Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, and a feature with Buxton and four-time F1 World Champion and Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel, as they cruise through the streets of downtown Austin. In addition, pre-race coverage will give fans the most extreme perspective of Circuit of the Americas, as Stavast will skydive down into the track. NBC will also air an hour of post-race coverage immediately following the conclusion of the U.S. Grand Prix.

Last year, Sebastian Vettel won the U.S. Grand Prix en route to his 2013 F1 World Championship. Lewis Hamilton currently leads Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by 17 points in the standings with just three races remaining, and won the first U.S. Grand Prix that was held at Circuit of the Americas in 2012.

FOR FIRST TIME, NBC SPORTS GROUP PRESENTS LIVE QUALIFYING ON NBC, & LIVE COVERAGE OF ALL PRACTICES ON NBC OR NBCSN; ROAD TO MERCEDES PREMIERES THURSDAY, OCT. 30 AT 10 P.M. ET

For the first time, NBC Sports Group will present live qualifying on NBC, as well as all three practices across NBC and NBCSN. Coverage will begin with Practice 1 on Friday, Oct. 31 at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, followed by live coverage of Practice 2 at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN. NBC will air Practice 3 followed by live qualifying on Saturday, Nov. 1 at 1 p.m. ET.

In addition, NBCSN will debut Road To Mercedes on Thursday, Oct. 10 at 10 p.m. ET as part of a full night of F1 programming on NBCSN. Hosted by Will Buxton, the 60-minute special examines the history and heritage of the Mercedes F1 team, which clinched the 2014 F1 constructors’ championship after the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi on Oct. 12, winning its first ever F1 constructors’ title.

Road To Mercedes will feature an in-depth look at the Silver Arrows, as well as the restoration of historic Mercedes cars at Kienle, as Buxton brings viewers on a trip from Mercedes F1 home in the United Kingdom to the company’s birthplace in Germany. The special will also air on Friday, Oct. 31 at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN between Practices 1 and 2.

Following Practice 2, NBCSN’s edition of F1 Countdown on Friday at 4:30 p.m. ET will feature sit-down interviews between Steve Matchett and Gene Haas and Haas F1 Team Principal Gunther Steiner, discussing the prospects of an American F1 team in 2016.

NBCSN’s  Thursday night F1 programming block will also feature Road To Ferrari at 11 p.m. ET, as well as episodes of /DRIVE on NBC SportsOff The Grid, and “1”, the critically-acclaimed F1 documentary.

Following is NBC Sports Group’s comprehensive motorsports coverage surrounding the F1 U.S. Grand Prix next weekend:

Date Coverage Network Time (ET)
Thurs., October 30 Off The Grid (Encore) NBCSN 7 p.m.
“1” – F1 Documentary NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Road To Mercedes (Premiere) NBCSN 10 p.m.
Road to Ferrari (Encore) NBCSN 11 p.m.
Fri., October 31 /DRIVE on NBCSN (Encore) NBCSN 12 a.m.
/DRIVE on NBCSN (Encore) NBCSN 12:30 a.m.
Road To Mercedes (Encore) NBCSN 1 a.m.
Off The Grid (Encore) NBCSN 12 p.m.
F1 United States Grand Prix – Practice 1 NBCSN 12:30 p.m.
Road To Mercedes (Encore) NBCSN 2 p.m.
F1 United States Grand Prix – Practice 2 NBCSN 3 p.m.
F1 Countdown NBCSN 4:30 p.m.
F1 United States Grand Prix – Practice 2 (Encore) NBCSN 10:30 p.m.
Sat., November 1 F1 United States Grand Prix – Practice 3 & Qualifying NBC 1 p.m.
Sun., November 2 F1 United States Grand Prix – Qualifying (Encore) NBCSN 12:30 a.m.
F1 Countdown NBCSN 2 p.m.
F1 Countdown NBC 2:30 p.m.
F1 United States Grand Prix NBC 3 p.m.
F1 Extra NBC 5 p.m. 

Even with half the purse and no fans, Indy 500 still has major team value

Indy 500 purse fans
Joe Skibinski / IndyCar
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Even with reportedly half the purse and no fans in attendance, NTT IndyCar Series driver-owner Ed Carpenter believes it remains “absolutely critical” to hold the 104th Indy 500.

“Far and away it’s what makes and breaks our season as teams,” the Ed Carpenter Racing namesake told reporters during a Zoom media availability last week. “It’s the most important event to our partners. It 100 percent sucks not having fans there and not even being able to have the experience with our partners in full being there. But it’s necessary.

“We’ve got to look at all the hard decisions now of what we have to do to be in a position to have fans in 2021. It’s critical for the health of the teams that we have this race to make sure we have teams back here next year. That sounds a little dramatic, but that’s the reality.

HOW TO WATCH THE INDY 500 ON NBCDetails for the Aug. 23 race

DAILY INDY 500 SCHEDULEClick here for all on-track activity in August at Indy

“We live in not only a very volatile world right now, but our industry and motorsport in general, it’s not an easy business to operate. When you lose your marquee event, it’s a lot different than looking at losing Portland on the schedule or Barber. They’re in totally different atmospheres as far as the importance to us and our partners.”

Robin Miller reported on RACER.com that IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske told team owners last week the purse for the postponed Indianapolis 500 was slashed from $15 to $7.5 million. Miller reported holding the Aug. 23 race (1 p.m. ET, NBC) would be a $20 million hit to the bottom line.

Carpenter still is supportive of Penske’s “outstanding job” of leading the series through the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Even with a 50 percent purse reduction, the Indy 500 remains the linchpin of teams’ economic viability.

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The schedule has taken many hits with the cancellation of races at Barber Motorsports Park, Circuit of the Americas, Detroit, Portland International Raceway, Laguna Seca and Toronto, and another race weekend doubleheader at Mid-Ohio has been indefinitely postponed.

That leaves the 2020 slate at 12 confirmed races of an original 17, which has raised questions about how many races teams need to fulfill sponsor obligations.

“It’s a moving target,” said Carpenter, who announced the U.S. Space Force as a new sponsor for the Indy 500. “I think we’ve been pretty blessed as a team with the level of commitment of our partners and their understanding of COVID-19 and the impact on our schedule, our contracts.

“All of it is out of our control, out of the series’ control, the promoter’s control. At the end of the day is there a firm number (of races) I can give? No. But definitely every one that we lose, it does make it harder to continue having those conversations.

I think everyone’s as confident as you can be right now with what we have in front of us with what’s remaining on the schedule. Things are so fluid, it changes day-to-day, let alone week-to-week. We just have to take it as it comes. Right now the focus is on the 500 and maximizing this month to the best we possibly can given the situation.”

That’ll be hard this month for Carpenter, who grew up in Indianapolis and is the stepson of Tony George, whose family owned Indianapolis Motor Speedway for decades.

Having spent a lifetime around the Brickyard, Carpenter will feel the ache of missing fans as he races in his 17th Indy 500.

Ed Carpenter, shown racing his No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet at Iowa Speedway last month, led a race-high 65 laps and finished second in the 2018 Indy 500 (Chris Jones/IndyCar).

“Over that time you develop relationships that are centered around standing outside of your garage in Gasoline Alley,” he said. “It stinks, it sucks that we don’t get to share that passion we all have that is the Indianapolis 500. Unfortunately it’s the reality we’re in right now.

I think this is the best that we can do unfortunately. Without a doubt it’s going to be a different environment. You’re going to be missing the sounds and a lot of the sights and colors. For sure I’ve thought about it. It’s going to be a different morning, different lead-in to the race. After 16 of them, you have a cadence and anticipation for the buildup. That’s all going to be different this year.

“I’m confident it’s not going to affect the type of show we put on or the excitement and how aggressive we are fighting for an Indy 500 win. It’s still going to mean the same thing. We’re just not going to have our fans to celebrate with after the fact. But it’s going to be historic.”