TV times for this weekend’s Australian GP on NBCSN, Live Extra

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The waiting is finally over. Formula 1 makes its triumphant return this weekend with its traditional curtain-raiser: the Australian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton enters the 2016 season chasing a fourth world championship that would see him join an elite club of just four drivers with more than a trio of titles.

Mercedes has powered the Briton to consecutive championships in the past two years, but with Scuderia Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel hungry to topple the German manufacturer and end its domination, Hamilton may face a sterner test in 2016.

Hamilton will also once again have to be wary of the enemy within the team: teammate Nico Rosberg, who will want to go one better than finishing as runner-up as in 2014 and 2015.

This weekend’s Australian Grand Prix will kick off what promises to be the biggest season yet for F1 on NBC Sports, comprising 21 races and over 200 hours of coverage over the year.

FP1, FP2, qualifying and the race will all be shown live on NBCSN, while all sessions (including FP3) will be live on NBC Sports Live Extra.

As well as the on-track sessions, this week also marks the premiere of Haas F1: America’s Return to the Grid, a new documentary charting the arrival of Haas F1 Team to the sport for 2016.

Here is the full schedule for motorsport on NBCSN and Live Extra this weekend. All times are ET.

Date Coverage Time Network
Tues.-Thurs. NASCAR AMERICA 5 p.m. NBCSN
Wed., March 16 Haas F1: America’s Return To The Grid 11:30 p.m. NBCSN
Thurs., March 17 NASCAR K&N Pro Series – Mobile 6:30 p.m. NBCSN
NASCAR Whelen Modified Series – Carraway 7:30 p.m. NBCSN
Haas F1: America’s Return The Grid 8:30 p.m. NBCSN
F1 Australian Grand Prix – Practice 1 9:30 p.m. NBCSN
APEX: The Story of the Hypercar 11 p.m. NBCSN
Fri., March 18 Off The Grid – Melbourne 1 a.m. NBCSN
F1 Australian Grand Prix – Practice 2 1:30 a.m. NBCSN
F1 Australian Grand Prix – Practice 3 10 p.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
Sat., March 19 F1 Australian Grand Prix – Qualifying 2 a.m. NBCSN
Haas: America’s Return To The Grid 11 p.m. NBCSN
Sun., March 20 F1 Countdown 12 a.m. NBCSN
F1 Australian Grand Prix 12:30 a.m. NBCSN
F1 Extra 3 a.m. NBCSN
F1 Australian Grand Prix (Encore) Noon NBCSN
F1 Extra (Encore) 2:30 p.m. NBCSN
Mon., March 21 F1 Australian Grand Prix (Encore) 2:30 p.m. NBCSN

As expected, FIA denies granting Colton Herta a Super License to race in F1

Colton Herta Super License
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The governing body for Formula One on Friday said IndyCar star Colton Herta will not be granted the Super License that the American needs to join the F1 grid next season.

“The FIA confirms that an enquiry was made via the appropriate channels that led to the FIA confirming that the driver Colton Herta does not have the required number of points to be granted an FIA Super Licence,” the FIA said in a statement.

The FIA decision was not a surprise.

Red Bull was interested in the 22-year-old Californian and considering giving Herta a seat at AlphaTauri, its junior team. AlphaTauri has already said that Pierre Gasly will return next season and Yuki Tsunoda received a contract extension earlier this week.

However, AlphaTauri has acknowledged it would release Gasly, who is apparently wanted at Alpine, but only if it had a compelling driver such as Herta to put in the car. F1 has not had an American on the grid since Alexander Rossi in 2015, but Herta did not particularly want the FIA to make an exception to the licensing system to get him a seat.

At issue is how the FIA rates IndyCar, a series it does not govern. The points it awards to IndyCar drivers rank somewhere between F2 and F3, the two junior feeder series into F1.

IndyCar drivers have criticized the system in defense of Herta and the intense, close racing of their own highly competitive series. Herta has won seven IndyCar races, is the youngest winner in series history and has four starts in the Indianapolis 500. He qualified on the front row in 2021 and finished a career-best eighth in 2020.

Rossi, who has spent the last four seasons as Herta’s teammate at Andretti Autosport, lashed out this week because “I’m so sick and tired of this back and forth” regarding the licensing.

“The whole premise of it was to keep people from buying their way into F1 and allowing talent to be the motivating factor,” Rossi wrote on social media. “That’s great. We all agree Colton has the talent and capability to be in F1. That’s also great and he should get that opportunity if it’s offered to him. Period.

“Motorsport still remains as the most high profile sport in the world where money can outweigh talent. What is disappointing and in my opinion, the fundamental problem, is that the sporting element so often took a backseat to the business side that here had to be a method put in place in order for certain teams to stop taking drivers solely based on their financial backing.”

Rossi added those decisions “whether out of greed or necessity, is what cost Colton the opportunity to make the decision for himself as to if he wanted to alter career paths and race in F1. Not points on a license.”

The system favors drivers who compete in FIA-sanctioned series. For example, Linus Lundqvist earned his Super License by winning the Indy Lights championship.

Lundqvist’s required points come via the 15 he earned for the Lights title, 10 points for finishing third in Lights last year and his 2020 victory in the FIA-governed Formula Regional Americas Championship, which earned him 18 points.

That gave the 23-year-old Swede a total of 43 points, three more than needed for the license.

Herta, meanwhile, ended the IndyCar season with 32 points. He can still earn a Super License by picking up one point for any free practice sessions he runs this year; McLaren holds his F1 rights and could put him in a car. Herta could also potentially run in an FIA-sanctioned winter series to pick up some points.

Michael Andretti, who has petitioned the FIA to expand its grid to add two cars for him to launch a team, said he never bothered to explore potential replacements for Herta on the IndyCar team because he was confident the Super License request would be rejected.

Andretti has been met by severe resistance from existing F1 teams and even F1 itself in his hope to add an 11th team. Andretti could still get on the grid by purchasing an existing team and he’d like to build his program around Herta, who is under contract in IndyCar to Andretti through 2023.