Here’s your 2015 Bahrain Grand Prix NBCSN, NBC Sports Live Extra times

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This week’s Bahrain Grand Prix marks the second race in Formula 1’s first back-to-back sequence of the season. Here is the NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra TV times and breakdown for this weekend’s coverage:

F1 BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX – SUNDAY AT 10:30 A.M. ET ON NBCSN

The F1 season rolls on this Sunday at 10:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN with live coverage of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Last weekend, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) earned his second win of the 2015 campaign, and fourth Chinese Grand Prix title of his career, with a victory at Shanghai International Circuit ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel earned his third podium in three races with a third-place finish, and currently sits 13 points behind Hamilton (68). Vettel is a two-time winner of the Bahrain Grand Prix, while Hamilton earned his first Bahrain GP victory last season.

Coverage begins Friday morning at 7 a.m. ET with exclusive coverage of Practice 1 on NBC Sports Live Extra, followed by live Practice 2 coverage at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN. CNBC will provide live coverage of qualifying on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. ET, prior to race coverage on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. ET

Lead F1 announcer Leigh Diffey will call this weekend’s action, and will be joined by veteran analyst and former racecar driver David Hobbs, and analyst and former race mechanic for the Benetton F1 team Steve Matchett. F1 insider Will Buxton will serve as the team’s on-site reporter from Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain.

SEASON PREMIERES OF /DRIVE ON NBC SPORTS AND OFF THE GRID THIS WEEKEND

NBCSN presents the season premieres of the original series /DRIVE on NBC Sports and Off the Grid this weekend, beginning tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. ET with the Middle East episode of /DRIVE on NBC Sports, immediately following Bahrain GP practice. In this week’s season premiere, /DRIVE hosts Chris Harris, Matt Farah and Mike Spinelli explore the unique car culture of the Arabian peninsula, home to two exciting Formula 1 races — the Bahrain Grand Prix and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. An epic road trip in three of the world’s fastest supercars culminates along one of the greatest driving roads on earth — the dramatic “road to nowhere” that winds up Jabal Al Jais, the UAE’s tallest mountain.

NBCSN will present the season premiere of Off the Grid with its Melbourne episode this Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET, immediately following the Bahrain Grand Prix. Off the Grid host Will Buxton takes viewers behind the scenes of the Australian Grand Prix. From discovering how a city park turns into a race track to interviewing some of Australia’s most famous racing drivers (Mark Webber, Daniel Ricciardo and Jamie Whincup), Off the Grid: Melbourne is a racing fan’s guide.

Click here for a preview of Off the Grid: Melbourne.

TV TIMES: F1, INDYCAR AND MORE

Date Program Time (ET) Network
Fri., April 17 NASCAR K&N Series – Irwindale 12:30 a.m. NBCSN
F1 Bahrain Grand Prix – Practice 1 8 a.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
F1 Bahrain Grand Prix – Practice 2 11 a.m. NBCSN
/DRIVE on NBC Sports: Middle East 12:30 p.m. NBCSN
IndyCar Countdown 5 p.m. NBCSN
Sat., April 18 NASCAR Whelen Series: Thompson 12:30 a.m. NBCSN
F1 Bahrain Grand Prix – Practice 3 8 a.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
F1 Bahrain Grand Prix – Qualifying 11 a.m. CNBC
IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach – Qualifying 6 p.m. NBCSN
F1 Bahrain Grand Prix – Qualifying 7:30 p.m. NBCSN
/DRIVE on NBC Sports: Middle East (Encore) 9 p.m. NBCSN
Sun., April 19 F1 Bahrain Grand Prix 10:30 p.m. NBCSN
F1 Extra 1 p.m. NBCSN
Off the Grid: Melbourne 1:30 p.m. NBCSN
Indy Lights Series: Long Beach 3 p.m. NBCSN
IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach 7 p.m. NBCSN

IndyCar drivers say Thermal Club could host race after successful opening day to test

IndyCar Thermal race
Andy Abeyta/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY Sports Images
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THERMAL, Calif. – The “motorsports country club” passed the first test (figuratively and literally) with NTT IndyCar Series drivers pleased enough to proclaim The Thermal Club as race-eligible after its debut.

Though there were a few minor incidents on the 17-turn, 3.067-mile permanent road course east of Palm Springs in Southern California’s Coachella Valley, there was no significant damage for the 27 full-time cars that turned 1,119 laps Thursday.

Perhaps more importantly, drivers seemed to enjoy the ride around the track, which is unlike anything on the current circuit.

“I would love to race here,” said Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Marcus Armstrong, who posted the 10th-quickest time (1 minute, 39.9077 seconds) in the No. 11 Dallara-Honda that he will race on street and road courses after coming from the F2 Series. “I think it’s awesome. Would have to do a lot of neck training prior to the race because it’s much like a European circuit, quite demanding on the neck, towards the end of the lap anyway.

PRACTICE SPEEDS: First session l Second session l Combined

‘AN AMAZING PLACE’: IndyCar and its big plans for Thermal

“I think it’s cool. Very flowing, banked corners, banked high-speed corners. In terms of racing, it could be potentially not a lot of overtaking. You’d have to commit hard (in) maybe Turn 1. It wouldn’t be the easiest place to overtake. As a whole facility and circuit, it’s very enjoyable.”

Juncos Hollinger Racing No. 77 Chevrolet driver Callum Ilott, another F2 veteran who is entering his second year in IndyCar, was seventh fastest. Ilott said Thermal would “set a standard really of what we want to be doing with this series.

“It’s really, really high level, high tech,” said Ilott, whose rookie teammate Agustin Canapino went off course twice but incurred no major trouble. “As a circuit, yeah, it’s got a little bit different corners. I think the overtaking — we’ll find a way, we’re IndyCar — someone always sends it down the inside. I think if we can extend the straight and get some overtaking between Turn 6 and 7. It’s definitely a great circuit to drive and good fun and a bit different to the normal winter training we get in Florida. So I like the circuit.

“I think if we could, it would be good to race here once.”

Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta, who turned the fastest lap (1:39.3721) in his No. 26, also was optimistic despite the passing challenges.

“I think it really comes down to tire deg, what people are showing with that,” Herta said. “It will be tough to pass, right? A lot of the good braking zones, you’re coming off of high-speed corners, so it will be hard to follow.

“But you never know. I would say some of the tracks we go to would be terrible for racing, and IndyCar still puts on a great show. You never know until it’s tested and proven right or wrong.”

The possibility of adding an IndyCar race at The Thermal Club has been floated, but there would be some challenges. It likely would be a made-for-TV event given it’s a private club (and filled with multimillion-dollar homes filled with vintage cars). The test is closed to the public and open only to members and VIPs.

There also are some areas that would need to be improved, namely the galvanized steel Armco barriers that ring the track and generally are considered antiquated in motorsports.

“I think the Armco might propose a little bit of an issue,” Ilott said. “Again, it depends on what angle you’re hitting them obviously. It’s a pretty straightforward process to make it a bit safer and a bit more cushiony. I’m not in charge of that stuff. I just drive and try not to hit those things.

“I think it’s a straightforward process. To be fair, everyone has had a little moment today, spun and carried on. That’s a good start. Obviously there are anomalies, these things happen. So far, so good.”

Said Herta: For sure. It probably needs a little bit of work. They’ve already done a lot for us to come here already. It seems like if they do want to have a race here, they’re willing to put the work in and money in to upgrade the facility to make it a little bit safer for us.”

Christian Lundgaard of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing was second fastest (1:39.3767), followed by Alex Palou (1:39.3970) and Romain Grosjean (1:39.4826). Will Power was the top Chevrolet driver in fifth (1:39.5690).

Though Andretti had two of the top four times, Herta downplayed the significance other than getting reacclimated to his team.

“Just a lot of knocking the rust off,” he said. “It’s quite a long offseason without being in the car. I don’t know how much we’re really going to learn from running here. It’s really good to get the team back into it, get all the boys working again. Yeah, just get everybody back into the flow of it.

“It could be a huge shake-up when we go to St. Pete and who’s up front and who’s at the back. It is too early to tell. It’s nice just to be back in the car and get lap times down, get everybody working again.

“The track surface is very strange, very different to anything I’ve really felt in IndyCar. It’s seven first-gear corners. We don’t really have that many anywhere we go on a street course. It is quite a bit slower than our natural terrain courses. But I don’t want to be in here and dig it the whole time. It’s a fun track to drive, especially the back section. It keeps you on your toes. It doesn’t really replicate anything else that we go (race).”

The test will continue with another six-hour session Friday.