Vettel fastest again in rain-hit final Austrian GP practice

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Sebastian Vettel continued his good form during practice for the Austrian Grand Prix by topping the final free practice session on Saturday morning.

Vettel posted a fastest lap of 1:09.994 to finish 0.017 seconds clear of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton as rain prevented any of the drivers from improving their times in the final 20 minutes of the session.

WATCH REPLAY: Austrian GP FP3

On the soft tire runs in the first half of the session, Ferrari once again managed to compete closely with Mercedes as Kimi Raikkonen slotted into third place behind Vettel and Hamilton.

However, a red flag period caused by another stoppage for Fernando Alonso meant that no-one was able to complete a qualifying simulation as originally planned.

When the session went to green again, a number of drivers had already parked at the end of the pit lane on super-softs, only to then have to tentatively crawl back to the pit lane around due to the sharp rain shower that had hit the circuit.

With the forecast for qualifying suggesting that rain could grace the Red Bull Ring once again, Force India opted to send drivers Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg out on track to gauge the conditions, with the latter saying that it was “very slippery”.

Perez’s dry pace had been impressive enough to secure him fourth place in the final timesheets ahead of Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg, whilst Williams finished sixth and seventh with Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas.

Toro Rosso youngster Max Verstappen managed to finish the session in P8 at the checkered flag ahead of Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean in the Lotuses, rounding out the top ten.

A number of drivers follow Force India’s lead late on, venturing out on track for a few laps, but many still struggled for grip and ended up going off the track. Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen were fortunate to continue after nearly colliding in the spray, but the few laps completed will still have provided all of the teams with some important information.

Qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET on Saturday.

IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:


Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change