Wolff: Inter-team battle poses new challenge for Mercedes

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The scorecard is equal at two wins apiece between Scuderia Ferrari and Mercedes AMG Petronas through four races to kick off the 2017 Formula 1 season.

This is a fun stat because each of the last three seasons, there’s only been at the most three races per year Mercedes hasn’t won – and just eight races total. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel won three apiece in 2014 and 2015, respectively, and Ricciardo and Max Verstappen won once apiece for Red Bull last year.

The consistent fight with Ferrari is pushing Mercedes harder than ever to kick off 2017, and it’s a challenge Mercedes-Benz motorsport chief Toto Wolff seems to be relishing.

“This inter-team battle is a totally different situation that what we have seen over the last three years. You simply need to adapt to the challenge and that’s what we are doing, playing the hunter as well as being the hunted,” Wolff said in Mercedes’ pre-race advance ahead of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

“At the moment there are two top teams fighting for both championships and I expect Red Bull will also eventually join the club. The small margins we are seeing this season are demonstrated by the closeness at the top of the Drivers’ championship and even more so by the one point advantage we have in the Constructors’. This fight will continue on to the end of the season and we will be prepared for that battle.”

Valtteri Bottas overachieved in Russia to score his maiden Grand Prix victory, defending against Vettel as the race wound to its conclusion. Meanwhile Lewis Hamilton struggled for pace in a rare “off weekend” and was left to finish fourth, behind the pair of Ferraris.

Wolff said Mercedes feels it should be better this weekend at Spain with the first round of upgrades set to come.

“The prevailing feeling is that there is lots of homework to do to come back stronger with a car that can perform on a consistent level every weekend,” Wolff said. “I have the feeling that we are moving in the right direction but we need 24/7 shifts to achieve our ultimate targets.”

Of course, there’s also the matter of how Mercedes rebounds this race after its dramatic first lap coming-together between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg last year, in the race that ended its quest for a perfect season, and the race which saw Verstappen claim his maiden Grand Prix win with Red Bull.

It’s not something Wolff addressed in his pre-race Q&A, but Wolff’s praise for both Bottas’ performance and Hamilton getting the right tools this weekend will be key to Mercedes erasing its one major error of its 2016 season.

The Spanish Grand Prix runs from 8 a.m. ET on Sunday morning, on NBCSN, with pre-race coverage beginning an hour earlier at 7 a.m. ET.

IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
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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