Here are your European GP times at Baku on NBCSN, Live Extra

0 Comments

After a trip to North America last weekend and a bit of unexpected jostling owing to unforeseen, unfortunate circumstances in Orlando, Formula 1 returns to the airwaves this weekend in a more normal European time slot for the first trip to Baku, Azerbaijan, and the return of the European Grand Prix.

The race is scheduled to air back on NBCSN after the last two races at Monaco and Canada have aired on NBC. Race coverage starts at 8 a.m. ET on Sunday on NBCSN.

Here are the full times and details:

F1 EUROPEAN GRAND PRIX – SUNDAY AT 8:30 A.M. ET ON NBCSN

The F1 European Grand Prix returns to the schedule for the first time since 2012 this weekend, and will take place in Azerbaijan at the Baku City Circuit for the first time in the racing circuit’s history. Lewis Hamilton won his fifth Canadian Grand Prix last weekend in Montreal, his second consecutive win after going winless in the first five races of 2016. Hamilton’s win in Montreal coupled with teammate  fifth-place finish have brought the two-time defending champion within nine points of Rosberg in the Championship standings. The European Grand Prix has been held at various locations, most recently at the Valencia Street Circuit in Spain in 2012.

Coverage begins Friday on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app at 5 a.m. ET with Practice 1, followed by NBCSN’s coverage of Practice 2 at 9 a.m. ET. NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app will stream coverage of Practice 3 on Saturday at 6 a.m. ET, prior to NBCSN’s live coverage of qualifying at 9 a.m. ET. NBCSN will present pre-race coverage on F1 Countdown on Sunday at 8 a.m. ET, leading into the European Grand Prix at 8:30 a.m. ET. NBCSN will also air an encore presentation Sunday night at 6 p.m. ET.

NBC Sports Group’s lead F1 broadcast team of Leigh Diffey (play-by-play), veteran analyst and former racecar driver David Hobbs, and analyst and former race mechanic for the Benetton F1 team Steve Matchett will call the action. F1 insider Will Buxton will report on-site from the Baku City Circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Date Program Time (ET) Network
Fri., June 17 F1 European Grand Prix – Practice 1 5 a.m. NBCSports.com
F1 European Grand Prix – Practice 2 9 a.m. NBCSN
Sat., June 18 F1 European Grand Prix – Practice 3 6 a.m. NBCSports.com
F1 European Grand Prix – Qualifying 9 a.m. NBCSN
Sun., June 19 F1 Countdown 8 a.m. NBCSN
F1 European Grand Prix 8:30 a.m. NBCSN
F1 Extra 11 a.m. NBCSN
F1 European Grand Prix (Encore) 6 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
0 Comments

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.