Opposite direction for F1’s two Finns at Austin this year

2 Comments

A year ago, one of the big talking points heading into Austin was the absence of Kimi Raikkonen from the grid. The veteran opted to miss the final two Grands Prix of 2013 to undergo back surgery.

So his place at Lotus wasn’t taken by reserve driver Davide Valsecchi as was possible, but provided an opportunity for one of Raikkonen’s Finnish countrymen – veteran Heikki Kovalainen – to fill in instead.

While Kovalainen underachieved and failed to score points, this race last year marked the breakout Grand Prix for the full-time freshman Finn: Valtteri Bottas.

Bottas qualified ninth and ended eighth, and while that doesn’t sound like much on its own, consider the fortunes of where Williams was this time 12 months ago.

They still had the Renault engines; Pastor Maldonado was sulking through the weekend; and the car was perhaps the seventh or eighth best chassis on the grid, depending on the circuit.

Bottas made it to Q3, and then in the race turned in the move of the race with a brilliant pass of Esteban Gutierrez in the Sauber on the outside of Turn 2. He then held off Nico Rosberg’s advances in the superior Mercedes for eighth place and four points, which were Bottas’ first of his F1 career and easily the best result of the year for Williams.

Flash forward 12 months and Bottas sits fourth in the World Championship – immediately ahead of three World Champions Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button – on the strength of 14 scores from 16 races, including 5 podium finishes. Coupled with the new Mercedes power unit, Bottas has been one of the stars of the year.

Contrast that with Raikkonen, who will make his Austin return this weekend for Ferrari, and has languished through a miserable season. He hasn’t come to grips with the Ferrari; he’s only got one top-five start and one top-five finish apiece this year; and he currently sits 12th in the World Championship.

This was meant to be the year of Raikkonen and Alonso spearheading Ferrari’s resurgence and move to the front, but the car hasn’t been there as the team itself has gone through so much change and upheaval on the management side.

Oddly, despite the struggles, Raikkonen finds himself in a stronger position with Ferrari now than even a few months ago. While Alonso’s future has been all the talk, Raikkonen has been almost under the radar entirely and is all set for another season next year where the Kimi magic of old could return.

And while Bottas is the Finn you’d expect to do well this weekend, it’s Raikkonen who could now adopt the Bottas’ giant-killing role if he outperforms the machinery level.

A fascinating Finnish subplot we failed to foresee a year ago. Or, it just shows how much things can change in F1.

NBC/NBCSN SCHEDULE FROM UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX

Peacock to stream all Supercross and Motocross races in 2023, plus inaugural SuperMotocross Championship

Peacock Supercross Motocross 2023
Feld Entertainment, Inc.
0 Comments

NBC Sports and Feld Motor Sports announced that Peacock and the NBC family of networks will stream all 31 races of the combined Monster Energy Supercross, Lucas Oil Pro Motocross and the newly created SuperMotocross World Championship beginning January 7, 2023 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California and ending October 14 in the place where Supercross was born: the Los Angeles Coliseum.

The combined series will create a 10-month calendar of events, making it one of the longest professional sports’ seasons in the United States.

The agreement is for multiple years. The season finale will air live on Peacock and the USA Network.

Peacock will present live coverage of all races, qualifying and heats across both series. The 31 total races will mark a record for the combined number of Supercross and Pro Motocross events that NBC Sports will present in a single season.

NBC, USA Network and CNBC will provide coverage of all races, including the SuperMotocross World Championship Playoffs and Final, through 2023 and beyond. For more information about the Peacock streaming service, click here.

“With our wide array of live and original motorsports offerings, Peacock is a natural home for Supercross and Pro Motocross races,” said Rick Cordella, Chief Commercial Officer, Peacock. “We’re looking forward to providing fans with an easily-accessible destination to find every race all season long, including the exciting finish with the newly formed SuperMotocross World Championship.”

MORE: A conversation about media rights created the new SuperMotocross World Championship Series

The NBC family of networks has been home to Supercross for the past several seasons and this is a continuation of that relationship. The media rights for both series expired at the end of 2022, which allowed Supercross and Motocross to combine their efforts.

In fact, it was that conversation that led to the formation of the SuperMotocross World Championship (SMX).

The SMX series will begin on September 9, 2023 after the conclusion of the Pro Motocross season. Points will accumulate from both series to seed the SMX championship, which creates a record number of unified races.

“The SuperMotocross World Championship adds a new dimension to the annual Supercross and Pro Motocross seasons that will result in crowning the ultimate World Champion,” said Stephen C. Yaros, SVP Global Media and Supercross for Feld Motor Sports. “We are thrilled to be extending our relationship with NBC Sports so our fans can watch all the racing action streaming live on Peacock and the option to also watch select rounds on NBC, USA Network and CNBC.”

Complete 2023 coverage schedules for Supercross, Pro Motocross and the SuperMotocross World Championship on Peacock, NBC, USA Network and CNBC will be announced in the near future.