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Ocon to start third at Monza, sets sights on maiden F1 podium

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Esteban Ocon has set his sights on scoring his first Formula 1 podium in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix after starring in a frenetic qualifying session at Monza, clinching third place on the grid.

Ocon, 20, has been one of the stand-out drivers in F1’s midfield this year, scoring points in all but one race for Force India.

The Mercedes-backed youngster squeezed through to Q3 at the expense of teammate Sergio Perez before producing a fine lap in extreme wet conditions, finishing fifth overall.

Ocon will rise to third on the grid thanks to penalties for Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, meaning he will line up directly behind pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton.

“For sure, it’s amazing. That’s what the team deserves,” Ocon told NBCSN after qualifying.

“They work so hard on every aspect. To get the second row is something amazing. The car was brilliant, I managed to push it to the limits. I want my podium!”

When asked if a podium was possible, Ocon said: “Yes, definitely. We adjusted the car, we’ll work on the car like we did on Friday.

“We have a big opportunity ahead and we have to get it.”

The Italian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.