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F1 on NBC team signs off after Abu Dhabi broadcast (VIDEO)

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Today’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix marks the final broadcast for the Formula 1 on NBC Sports team after five years and 98 Grands Prix.

Booth team of Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett took the opportunity to say thanks, then pay tribute to the most famous new podium celebration coined during this tenure – Daniel Ricciardo’s podium “shoey” – with a shoey of their own.

The final credits paid tribute to the entire crew, led by F1 coordinating producer Rich O’Connor, along with some of the best highlights over the last five years. That rundown is below.

NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton checked in just beforehand with his final report from the Yas Marina Circuit, which also provided a welcome opportunity for producer Jason Swales to appear on camera alongside.

On the grid itself, Buxton did his last grid walk, which is below.

Pre-race, Sam Posey’s final essay is called “The Best of The Best,” a look at the pair of four-time Formula 1 World Champions in Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. A collection of the best of Posey’s essays is linked here.

We’d be remiss to not thank a handful of others who also appeared on the F1 broadcasts in fill-in roles. Bob Varsha and Brian Till both filled in on occasion for Diffey alongside Hobbs and Matchett in the booth. James Allen and Townsend Bell both filled in for Buxton in the pits during 2016, as Buxton had lost his father – a nice piece from Will about the power of the F1 “family” is linked here.

And lastly, 1978 World Champion Mario Andretti joined the F1 on NBC team on a couple occasions, both in studio and at the live shows. Andretti bestowed some very high praise on the team in advance of the broadcast.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”