Force India rallies to double points score in Abu Dhabi

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ABU DHABI – Force India ended the 2014 Formula 1 season on a high in Abu Dhabi today as both Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez finished in the points.

After a strong start to the year, Force India had been ahead of McLaren in the race for fifth in the constructors’ championship, only to struggle in the second half of the season and fall behind the British team.

Although it could not re-overtake McLaren in Abu Dhabi despite double points being on offer, it did pick up its biggest points haul of the season, scoring 28 points as Hulkenberg finished sixth and Sergio Perez came home just behind in seventh.

“Today we saw a captivating race that demonstrated how far we have come this season,” team owner Vijay Mallya said. “Even though tonight’s result was not enough to claim back fifth in the championship, we can look back to our season with pride. We scored the highest points tally in the history of the team, 155 points, and we finished with both cars in the points on ten occasions.

“I want to congratulate everyone in the team, both here at the track and back in Silverstone, for their effort this season, and encourage them to take this year as a spur for even greater things to come in 2015.”

Hulkenberg was pleased with his finish to the 2014 season, and believes that Force India is in a good position heading into the 2015 season.

“I’m very happy with this result,” Hulkenberg said. “After struggling with the car on Friday and in qualifying, I think we can be proud of today’s race and our performance is a good sign for next year as well. The car performed at its best, I had a good balance and I had the confidence to really push.”

Sergio Perez was confirmed to be staying at Force India for 2015 last night, and believes that the team should be proud of its achievements this year.

“Looking back at the season overall I think everyone in the team has done a tremendous job and we should feel very happy about what we have achieved,” Perez said. “I’ve enjoyed this season and now that I know the team I’m looking forward to coming back stronger in 2015.”

Here are the starting times for 2020 NTT IndyCar Series action on NBC and NBCSN

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Another important tidbit for NTT IndyCar Series fans is out as INDYCAR and NBC announced starting times for the 2020 season. The full television schedule is also included.

There are different starting times at four races in 2020 from 2019. Those include the March 15 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge at Circuit of the Americas on April 26, a later starting time for the Saturday night race at Iowa Speedway on July 18 on NBCSN

INDYCAR released the green flag times today for the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season that features starting time shifts at four races – St. Petersburg, Circuit of The Americas, Iowa and Mid-Ohio – and the anticipated evening return to Richmond Raceway.

Those four returning races represent the only significant green flag start time changes from a year ago in the 17-race 2020 NTT IndyCar Series schedule, beginning with the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg scheduled for Sunday, March 15.

The August 16 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio will be moved to an earlier starting time and will be broadcast on NBC. Previously, the race was scheduled for 4:05 p.m., but has been changed to a 12:45 p.m. Eastern Time green flag.

INDYCAR’s return to Richmond Raceway on Saturday, June 27 will begin at 8:15 p.m. ET. That is the only new event on the schedule.

Detailed broadcast information for the entire season will be announced at a later date.

Here are the notable changes to the starting times on the schedule:

The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which began at 1:40 p.m. ET this past season, will now have a 3:30 p.m. green flag. The race on the downtown streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., will be celebrating its 10thanniversary as the series’ season opener and be televised on NBC Sports Network.

The AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge at Circuit of The Americas on Sunday, April 26, will have a similar shift, moving from a 1:43 p.m. ET green flag this past season to 4:10 p.m. (3:10 p.m. local) in 2020. The permanent road course in Austin, Texas, will play host to the fourth race of the season and be broadcast on NBCSN.

The Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway, set for Saturday, July 18, on NBCSN, will be better accommodated for an evening race under the lights with the green flag moving from 7:15 p.m. ET to 9 p.m. (8 p.m. local).

“The return of a night race for INDYCAR at Iowa Speedway is exciting news for our race fans, sponsors, and the entire region,” Iowa Speedway President David Hyatt said. “The cars look great under the lights, and the competition should be even more fierce given what should be cooler conditions. Our track provides some of the best racing you’ll see anywhere, which will be good for attendance. This will be a can’t-miss weekend for all race fans.”

The return to a true night race at Iowa was the result of fans requesting it. The race will begin at 8:00 p.m. CT on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. And for fans and drivers, it is nostalgic, hearkening back to the first race many of them experienced … a night race on a short track.

The series hasn’t held a race that began after dusk at Iowa Speedway since 2015, and drivers and fans are welcoming it. Not only does it look more vibrant — and create sparks as cars bottom out — it also makes for better racing. Tires grip better when the track is cooler. Fans also avoid sweltering conditions during summer afternoons.

The Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sunday, Aug. 16, will be the only race among the four that moves to an earlier start time. The race, which had a 4:05 p.m. ET start this past season, will shift to a 12:45 p.m. green flag in 2020 and be televised on NBC.

The NTT IndyCar Series heads to Richmond Raceway – the only new addition on the 2020 schedule – for the 11th race of the season on Saturday, June 27. The field will take the green flag at 8:15 ET for the start of the first Indy car race at the .75-mile oval since 2009. The race will be broadcast on NBCSN.