© Getty Images

Rosberg can claim first F1 season title with victory in Brazil

1 Comment

SAO PAULO (AP) With a third straight Brazilian Grand Prix title on Sunday, Nico Rosberg can match the feat of his famous father by winning the Formula One championship.

Standing in his way is Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, the two-time defending champion.

If Hamilton wins on the hilly course in Sao Paulo, the season title will be decided in the final race in two weeks in Abu Dhabi.

“I love the track,” Rosberg said Thursday, 34 years after his father Keke Rosberg won his only F1 season title. “It feels good and I’ve always gone well here.”

Then, the German driver offered a caution.

“At the same time, this year we all start from zero,” Rosberg said. “Those past wins are not going to help me get a win this weekend. We all start from the same place.”

Beyond the victory, there are several scenarios under which Rosberg could claim the season title, even if he doesn’t win the race. That depends on how far behind him Hamilton finishes.

Hamilton, who trails Rosberg by 19 points, can keep the title chase alive in Brazil but he can only claim the championship – it would be his fourth – in Abu Dhabi.

“It’s a real challenge to come here and try to win for the first time,” Hamilton said. “So that’s my goal, and there’s nothing really to lose.”

The two can expect little quarter. They should also expect a wet track with weekend rain in the forecast.

Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, third in the season standings but without a chance for the big prize, said he would “not stay out of the fight.”

“I think the championship will work out how it should work out,” Ricciardo said. “I don’t think we should assist in the outcome. Just because they (Rosberg and Hamilton) are fighting doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to overtake if’s there’s a door open.”

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, who won four straight season titles between 2010-13, said others needed to “respect the fact” that the two Mercedes drivers have had the best seasons. He, however, did not say he would back off.

Rosberg said he was expecting everyone to give their best.

“Of course, you’re not going to take it easy just because one guy is fighting for the championship,” Rosberg said.

Sunday also marks the last race in Brazil for Felipe Massa, who is leaving F1 after this season. Massa never won a season title, but he got painfully close.

In Brazil in the final race of the 2008 season, Massa won the race but lost the season title by one point to Hamilton when the Englishman overtook on the final lap to finish fifth – getting the point he needed to edge Massa.

“I think it will be a very special weekend for me, for my last home race – a place where I grew up,” Massa said. “This is a place where I remember I was in the grandstand watching and supporting Ayrton Senna and Nelson Piquet.”

Senna and Piquet each won three F1 season titles.

“There’s no doubt he’s one of the most talented drivers on the grid,” Vettel said of Massa, who raced for 15 seasons. “But apart from that, he’s a great person. He’s the kind of guy you look at and you smile – because he’s just smiling from the inside. It’s his weekend.”

It will be, except for Rosberg and Hamilton.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway can have 10,000 fans for IndyCar races

Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have crowds for its NTT IndyCar Series race weekend next month, the first time fans are allowed at the track this year.

The track announced Friday that up to 10,000 fans will be allowed in the grandstands daily from Oct. 1-4. The IndyCar Harvest GP race doubleheader will be held on the track’s road course Oct. 2-3.

IMS has played host to several events this year without fans, including the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23 and a NASCAR-IndyCar weekend July 4-5 that included the Brickyard 400. Plans originally were made to have fans at the Indy 500 before reversing course a few weeks ahead of the race. In a letter last month, Roger Penske vowed that fans would return for the 2021 Indy 500.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS president Doug Boles said in a release. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

Fans will undergo temperature screenings upon entry and also be required to wear face coverings at all times on property. The track said each attendee will receive a mask and bottle of hand sanitizer.

The Friday, Oct. 2 race will be shown at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA, and NBC will broadcast the Saturday, Oct. 3 race at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s the release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 – For the first time in 2020, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans to the Racing Capital of the World for the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators can be in the grandstands each day of racing action Oct. 1-4, per approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.

Tickets are available now via IMS.com and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The massive facility, which holds more than 300,000 people, will provide two spectator zones with up to 5,000 fans in each. The zones will be located in Turns 1 and 4 of the oval, offering strong sightlines of the road course. Strict health and safety rules will be in place, including the following:

  • Face coverings must be worn throughout the property at all times;
  • All fans will receive temperature screenings before gate entry;
  • Grandstand seats will be marked for distancing;
  • Attendees must use pre-assigned gates and remain in their designated zones.

Global Medical Response, the world leader in compassionate, quality emergency medical and patient relocation services, will be the presenting sponsor of the penultimate weekend of INDYCAR racing this season.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

The plan, which includes each attendee receiving a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer upon entering the track, was developed in consultation with state and local health officials.

This event weekend is highlighted by an NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader, with races Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3. It will be the penultimate event of the series’ season as the field pursues the champion’s prestigious Astor Challenge Cup to be awarded Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The INDYCAR Harvest GP will pay tribute to a storied IMS event, the Harvest Classic in September 1916. The Harvest Classic was the only racing event held outside of May at IMS from 1911 through 1993. The event featured three races, all won by legendary driver Johnny Aitken.

Fans also will see a host of facility improvements during the event weekend, including more than 30 new LED video boards, refreshed concession stands and restrooms, and 5G wireless connectivity throughout the facility.

The first race will air at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday, Oct. 2 on the USA Network. NBC will broadcast the second race at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Oct. 3, with WTHR-13 airing the action live in Central Indiana.

Also racing that weekend will be the first pairing of two major sports car series — the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS. Former Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ryan Briscoe is among the drivers in the Indianapolis 8 Hour event held Sunday, Oct. 4.

The event also will showcase drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America and the TC America series.

The full on-track schedule is available at IMS.com.