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Azerbaijan Grand Prix sees start of busy month for F1 on NBCSN

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A busy month of action for Formula 1 from now until the summer break at the end of July kicks off with this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the first of four races in the next six weekends.

Live coverage occurs this weekend across several NBC Sports Group networks, NBCSN and CNBC, with streaming on the NBC Sports App.

TV times for live sessions are qualifying Saturday at 9 a.m. ET on CNBC and the race Sunday at 8 a.m. ET on NBCSN.

Free practice two airs live Friday at 9 a.m. ET on the NBC Sports App and is televised at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

This is F1’s second trip to Baku for the renamed Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which was last year called the European Grand Prix. It also comes a week after the 24 Hours of Le Mans, rather than on the same weekend, which may prevent it from being overlooked on the global motorsport calendar.

We’re also guaranteed a new winner at this track, because Nico Rosberg won here last year for Mercedes AMG Petronas. But with the World Champion having left the sport at the end of last year, someone new will hoist the trophy on Sunday.

Championship protagonists Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton are keen to do so; Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari leads Hamilton of Mercedes by 12 points, 141-129, heading into this weekend’s race.

Vettel was second here last year while Hamilton was fifth. If Hamilton wins here, it will complete his run of winning at every active circuit on the 2017 Formula 1 calendar.

Additionally, a Hamilton win would be the first time a driver has won consecutive races this year, as this is Round 8 of the season. Vettel and Hamilton are on three wins each, with Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas picking up the other win of the year in Russia.

Kimi Raikkonen will be looking for his first win of the year for Ferrari as well. He was fourth here last year.

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo has finished third in each of the last three races but has been fortunate to benefit from poor luck, reliability or strategy from at least one of the Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull drivers in those races. Neither he nor Max Verstappen is expected to contend for a podium on outright pace.

The Sahara Force India teammates enter with the microscope firmly on them after missing out on a potential podium finish in Canada. A potential third and fourth/fifth place results for Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez became fifth for Perez and sixth for Ocon after the two drivers were not switched around with Ocon on fresher Pirelli tires. Perez was third here last year while Ocon makes his Baku debut.

Hereโ€™s the schedule, with stream links and TV network if applicable:

  • Practice 1: Friday, June 23, 5 a.m.-6:30 a.m. ET (Full replay)
  • Practice 2: Friday, June 23, 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m. ET (Full replay)
  • Practice 2 (Replay): Friday, June 23, 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 3: Saturday, June 24, 6 a.m.-7 a.m. ET (Story; Full replay)
  • Qualifying: Saturday, June 24, 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m. ET ย (Story; Full replay)
  • Qualifying (Replay): Saturday, June 24, 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Qualifying (Replay): Sunday, June 25, 7 a.m.-8 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Pre-Race: Sunday, June 25, 8 a.m.-8:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race: Sunday, June 25, 8:30 a.m.-11 a.m. ET (Story;ย Full replay)
  • Post-Race: Sunday, June 25, 11 a.m.-11:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Formula 2 Race 1: Saturday, June 24, 4 a.m.-5:05 a.m. ET (Full replay)
  • Formula 2 Race 2: Sunday, June 25, 6 a.m.-6:50 a.m. ET (Full replay)
  • Formula 2 Race (Replay): Sunday, June 25, 6 a.m.-7 a.m. ET (NBCSN)

The next race is the Austrian Grand Prix, on July 9.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.