Stewart: F1 calendar must retain historic races

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Three-time Formula 1 world champion Sir Jackie Stewart has called on the sport to remember its roots and ensure that its most historic races remain on the calendar.

For the first time in 60 years, there will be no grand prix in Germany this 2015 after neither the Nurburgring nor Hockenheim could come to an agreement to host a race with the sport’s commercial rights holder.

The Italian Grand Prix at Monza is also though to be at risk, whilst events such as the Grand Prix of Europe in Azerbaijan and the Qatar Grand Prix are slated to join the schedule in the next two years.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Stewart urged the powers that be in F1 to keep the history of the sport in mind and ensure that the core European races remain on the calendar.

“That sounds like me being a purist, but you have to respect history,” Stewart said. “They should always be on the calendar.

“It’s terrific we have a U.S. Grand Prix, a Brazilian Grand Prix, one in Bahrain, and that we are going to new countries.

“But you still have to respect your heritage.”

The ever-expanding F1 calendar has resulted in a decline in races being held in Europe over the past decade. Events such as the San Marino Grand Prix and the French Grand Prix have already fallen by the  wayside, and a number of other races are thought to be at risk of meeting a similar fate.

For 2015, there are only seven European races on the calendar (excluding Russia, which is treated as a flyaway). The Austrian Grand Prix could be at risk should Red Bull make good on its threat to quit F1, given that the brand funds the race, whilst the Italian Grand Prix at Monza is known to be coming under increasing pressure.

As sanction fees for hosts continue to swell and become only viable for rich nations that are able to use government aid to wipe away the losses made, F1’s global outlook and approach to scheduling will only persist.

An IndyCar iRacing Challenge at Talladega? Drivers have discussed it

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If Dale Earnhardt Jr. is interested in an IndyCar iRacing event on an oval, he might like the latest idea being kicked around by NTT Series drivers.

“I personally would want to run at Talladega, but I don’t think that’s an option,” Arrow McLaren SP driver rookie Oliver Askew told NBCSports.com in a Friday interview about his simulation work for the second round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “IndyCar drivers have a group chat with iRacing, and someone had the idea of running at Talladega, and I thought it was brilliant.”

It actually would be a throwback of sorts as a USAC-sanctioned race with Indy cars at Talladega nearly happened 40 years ago.

The IndyCar iRacing Challenge will be running its second consecutive road course Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN or streaming here).

Of the four remaining races in the six-race series, there’s a chance that three of them could be ovals: A Drivers’ Choice track April 11; a “Random Draw” April 18 and a non-IndyCar “Dream” track May 2 (the April 25 race will be at Circuit of the Americas).

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IndyCar drivers are voting on next week’s track, and the options include high-speed ovals such as Texas Motor Speedway and Michigan Speedway.

A multicar crash at Talladega last October. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Talladega apparently isn’t on the list for next week, but surely it could be considered for a future race if it meant having Earnhardt in the field. The 15-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver is a six-time winner at Talladega, and the NASCAR on NBC analyst’s family is synonymous with the 2.66-mile oval where his late seven-time champion father won a record 10 times.

“I hope he can make that happen,” Askew said of racing against Earnhardt. “I hope IndyCar can grant his wish on that.”

The addition of Earnhardt would fit well with an IndyCar iRacing Challenge that already features champions from NASCAR (Jimmie Johnson) and Supercars (Scott McLaughlin).

Will Power would like to see more of that.

“I think that would be great if we can get big-name drivers from other series,” Power said. “Getting a couple guys from Europe would be cool.”