Kimi Raikkonen fastest in opening Spa Formula 1 practice

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Four-time Belgian Grand Prix winner Kimi Raikkonen made an impressive return from Formula 1’s summer break by leading opening practice for this weekend’s race at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

Raikkonen led Ferrari to the head of the field with a late lap on the ultra-soft compound tire, posting a fastest time of 1:45.502 in the SF70H car.

His effort was enough to edge out Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who had led for much of the session after a rapid lap on the soft tire, only to finish 0.053 seconds behind in P2.

Sebastian Vettel underpinned Raikkonen’s pace in the second Ferrari by lapping just one-tenth of a second slower, suggesting the Italian marque may be able to take the fight to Mercedes at Spa despite prior concerns given its high-speed nature.

Max Verstappen took P4 for Red Bull ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo, while Valtteri Bottas finished sixth for Mercedes.

Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat both finished in the top 10 for Toro Rosso, taking P7 and P9, with Esteban Ocon splitting the pair for Force India. Stoffel Vandoorne rounded out the top 10 for McLaren.

The session was interrupted early on following a crash for Felipe Massa at the exit of Malmedy, running wide through the gravel after getting loose and slamming into the barrier. The Brazilian was taken to the medical center as a precaution before being cleared, while the Williams team was left with a sizeable repair job to complete in time for second practice.

Bottas also had an off-track excursion soon after posting his fastest time of the session, clipping the gravel at Turn 12. His Mercedes car was largely unharmed, damaging only the front wing after scrubbing off plenty of speed before clipping the barrier.

Here’s the final classification from FP1 at Spa.

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