Briscoe, Pagenaud set for Corvette at Daytona, Sebring

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IndyCar aces Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Briscoe will join Corvette Racing for the first two rounds of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season, the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Pagenaud, the longtime Honda driver, has joined under the Chevrolet umbrella in the Verizon IndyCar Series this season with Team Penske. He will add a Corvette C7.R to his last two cars, an HPD ARX-03b open-top P2 car and Riley-BMW Daytona Prototype, that he has driven at Daytona the last two years.

“Corvette is definitely an icon in American racing and as an American sports car,” Pagenaud said in a release. “When I was racing with for another manufacturer, I always noticed the presence of the Corvette and Chevrolet fans.

“I’ve always said that Corvette Racing is a proper program – well put together with a very impressive presentation, great drivers and a fantastic team. The results speak for themselves. It’s great to be part of it now.

“It is definitely a very different experience compared to prototypes but I have some good experience in GT cars. I look forward to now being part of the family by driving for Chevrolet and Corvette Racing. The Corvette C7.R is a beautiful piece of machinery with a lot of high-tech development. It’s a great platform for the development of road cars and supercars.”

Pagenaud is also a rarity as Team Penske rarely allows its IndyCar drivers to run other events. He made sure to thank “The Captain,” Roger Penske and Penske president Tim Cindric for the chance.

“Thanks to Chevrolet for the opportunity, and of course thanks to Roger Penske and Tim Cindric in allowing me to be available. With this type of opportunity where you have the chance to go and run in a different category with a car and team that can win, it’s exciting and gets you very motivated. I really want to win Daytona. If we can do that with Chevrolet and Corvette Racing, I’ll be super excited and over the moon.”

Briscoe returns to Corvette Racing, where he drove three times in 2014, at Daytona, Sebring and Petit Le Mans.

The talented Australian will co-drive with Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia in the No. 3; Pagenaud will share the No. 4 with Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin.

“It’s such a massive honor to be a part of the Corvette Racing program,” Briscoe said. “To come back this year and be a part of the team for the endurance events, I’m really excited. We’re hoping the pace and everything is there that we need to have to win with one of the Corvettes. We really were strong last year and had a little bad luck. Everyone on the team is extremely hungry and I’m really looking forward to it.”

“It was definitely a new experience for me last year to be racing in the GT class. I thought it went really well. The team brought me on and gave me all the tools I needed to get up to speed and feel comfortable with the racecar. I feel like it’s a comfortable pairing with Antonio and Jan. I really felt like I got really good track time and could put down really good lap times to hold my own. Before you get into it, you really don’t know how it’s going to go. You just want to do your best.”

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

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Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.