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Brawn: Schumacher’s F1 records now in sight for Hamilton

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Formula 1 technical chief Ross Brawn believes Lewis Hamilton is now in a position to challenge Michael Schumacher’s all-time records for wins and championships after clinching his fourth title in Mexico last weekend.

Hamilton clinched his fourth crown by finishing ninth in the Mexican Grand Prix, becoming just the fifth driver in the sport’s history to amass a quartet of titles.

Only Juan Manuel Fangio (5) and Schumacher (7) now lay ahead of Hamilton in the records list, while the Briton is second only to Schumacher for race wins in F1, claiming 62 to the German’s 91.

Schumacher’s statistical records had been deemed out of reach by most, but Brawn – an instrumental figure in Schumacher’s success – told Sky Sports he believes Hamilton now stands a chance of catching them.

“I think they are. When that happened I couldn’t imagine it being beaten, but looking at the way that Lewis is performing [they could be],” Brawn said.

“You’ve got to say he’s one of the greats comparable with any of the iconic characters in Formula 1.

“He made hard work of it [in Mexico], but apart from that he’s been exemplary all year.”

Hamilton is set to open talks with Mercedes over a new contract in the coming months, with his existing deal expiring at the end of the 2018 season.

Were Hamilton to pen another three-year deal, it would take him up to the age of 35, with an extension beyond that not out of the realm of imagination.

With another four or five years on the cards and with a team that has completed a four-year run of title wins, Hamilton appears to be in a position to catch Schumacher’s once-deemed unbeatable records.

Laguna Seca to host IndyCar for at least next three seasons

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INDYCAR made it official today: the 2019 season-ending race will move a couple of hours down the Northern California coast to WeatherTechRaceway Laguna Seca.

Sonoma Raceway, which has hosted INDYCAR since 2005 – including the last five season-ending races (that includes this year’s upcoming season finale) – will not be part of next season’s schedule.

Earlier today, the Monterey County (Calif.) Board of Supervisors, which oversees operation of the iconic racing facility, approved a three-year agreement with INDYCAR to host next year’s season finale on Sept. 20-22, 2019.

The remaining two race dates for 2020 and 2021 will be announced later, according to an INDYCAR media release.

The 2.238-mile permanent road course previously hosted CART and Champ Car World Series Indy car races from 1983 through 2004, including the season-ending races from 1989 through 1996.

“I can’t imagine a more attractive destination location for INDYCAR’s season finale,” Mark Miles, president and CEO of Hulman & Company, which owns INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said in a statement. “Monterey is a place people want to be, and we will bring all of our guests. I think it’s a great choice for us.”

Bobby Rahal, former CART/CCWS driver and current INDYCAR team co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, won four of the prior 22 previous Indy car races at Laguna Seca, all consecutively (1984-87).

“It’s great news, but I might be biased,” Rahal said. “I personally won four Indy car races there and won my first Can-Am race there. Our Indy car team won with Bryan Herta and Max Papis and our sports car team won IMSA races there.

“So I would almost bet you that Laguna Seca is the site of more victories for me as a driver and team owner combined of any track I’ve ever raced on.

“There is nothing better than the Monterey Bay area, and it’s a great circuit that always drew great crowds. So I’m thrilled to have Indy car racing coming back to a circuit I love so much. We will put on a good show, for sure.”

In addition to Rahal as a multiple winner, two-time winners at Laguna Seca were fellow current INDYCAR team co-owners Michael Andretti and Bryan Herta, INDYCAR on NBCSN analyst Paul Tracy, Danny Sullivan and Patrick Carpentier.

“The return of INDYCAR to its spiritual road racing home of Laguna Seca is a tremendous honor and testament to the appeal of Monterey, and through the support of the County of Monterey will provide a significant economic benefit to our area businesses,” said Timothy McGrane, CEO of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, “We are looking forward to creating more memories in race fans’ minds like Bobby Rahal’s four consecutive Indy car wins from 1984-1987, Mario Andretti’s farewell race in 1994 and Alex Zanardi’s last-lap overtaking of Bryan Herta in the Corkscrew in 1996 that simply became known as ‘The Pass.'”

NBC Sports Group has secured exclusive domestic television and digital media rights for INDYCAR races beginning in 2019. Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN, agreed that Laguna Seca is an ideal venue to close out the schedule.

“We commend INDYCAR for returning to Laguna Seca, a historic track and an inspired place for the 2019 season finale,” Miller said. “The 2019 season will be our first as the exclusive media rights partner of INDYCAR, and we could not be more pleased to broadcast the championship from beautiful Monterrey.”

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