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Antonio Giovinazzi expecting easier time in second F1 weekend

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Antonio Giovinazzi expects to have an easier ride during his second Formula 1 race weekend after receiving plenty of notice to replace Pascal Wehrlein at Sauber for the Chinese Grand Prix.

2016 GP2 runner-up Giovinazzi was informed just hours before final practice for the Australian Grand Prix that he would be stepping in for Wehrlein at Sauber, with the German driver still lacking fitness following his accident at the Race of Champions in January.

Giovinazzi put in a solid display on debut, almost reaching Q2 and eventually finishing the race 12th despite having less than an hour of practice time in the C36 car prior to the race.

Sauber announced on Monday that Giovinazzi would be returning to the race seat for China, and may also appear in Bahrain next weekend should Wehrlein still be unfit.

“It was a special weekend. It was my first F1 grand prix, a dream came true,” Giovinazzi said, reflecting on his debut.

“Since I was a kid the dream was to arrive in F1 and to drive there was a fantastic experience, fantastic weekend. It was a quite late call on Saturday morning but I really enjoyed everything I did from FP3 to quali to race. So, I will never forget.”

Giovinazzi feels that his second race weekend will be much smoother given he already has one race distance under his belt, as well as getting a full complement of practice running this time around.

“To start from FP1 will be more easy, and also to have the experience from Melbourne will make everything a lot more easy,” Giovinazzi said.

“It will be a different race weekend though. The weather also looks difficult. So, it will be maybe wet and also to have some experience in the wet conditions will be good.

“What I can do is to do my best and hope the result can be good like Melbourne.”

WATCH LIVE: IndyCar practice and qualifying at Laguna Seca

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For the first time in 15 years, Indy cars will be racing at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, and the stakes have never been higher.

Tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Monterey is the final race of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season, and with four drivers mathematically eligible for the series championship, there will be plenty of story lines to follow.

Current series points leader Josef Newgarden enters this weekend with a 41-point lead over second-place Alexander Rossi.

A California native, Rossi attended his first IndyCar race with his father as child at Laguna Seca when he was three years old.

He now hopes to win his first IndyCar championship at the track where he fell in love with the sport, but after suffering a broken bolt in practice 1 yesterday, he will need to find speed in P3 and qualifying today in order to put himself in the best position to fight for the title.

Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon are also in contention to win the championship this weekend, and another title would only add to their already illustrious IndyCar careers.

Leigh Diffey, Paul Tracy and Townsend Bell will call today’s on-track action from the booth, while Marty Snider, Jon Beekhuis, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller will report from the pits.

Here is today’s schedule:

(All times are Eastern)

Saturday 9/21, 1 p.m. ET, IndyCar Practice 3, NBC Sports Gold 

Saturday 9/21, 4:30 p.m. ET, IndyCar Qualifying, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold

Saturday 9/21, 6 p.m. ET, Indy Lights Race 1, NBC Sports Gold 

 

For sessions on NBC Sports Gold, be sure to have your username and password handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.