Max Verstappen wins late duel over Charles Leclerc to capture Saudi Arabian GP

Max Verstappen Leclerc Saudi
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JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Formula One champion Max Verstappen overtook Charles Leclerc three laps from the end of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix for his first win of the season and 21st of his career on Sunday.

The race under floodlights was held two days after an attack on a nearby oil depot by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

Leclerc was aiming for back-to-back victories after winning the season-opener in Bahrain from pole position last Sunday. But Verstappen overtook him on Lap 47 of 50 after some thrilling wheel-to-wheel racing between them in a repeat of the battle they waged in Bahrain.

Leclerc remains top of the standings after two races.

Carlos Sainz Jr. finished in third place to make it another podium double for Ferrari after he was second in Bahrain where Leclerc had brilliantly repelled three attacks from Verstappen, who retired right near the end of that race with teammate Sergio Perez.

Perez bounced back with a superb pole position on Saturday but finished fourth, while seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton could manage only one point for Mercedes in 10th place after starting 15th.

His teammate George Russell fared better in fifth, but Mercedes again looked off the pace.

Fernando Alonso fell out of the race with mechanical problems, as did Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas.

There only 18 cars taking the green flag as Yuki Tsnoda had an engine problem on the formation laps and was unable to start.

Haas F1 already had held out the entry of Mick Schumacher, who endured a wicked hit during qualifying Saturday. The son of seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher was airlifted to a local hospital for precautionary scans, but he was unhurt in the incident.

Mick Schumacher was back in the F1 paddock Sunday for interviews.

The race capped a turbulent weekend for F1, which was under heavy scrutiny for continuing its race weekend following an attack by rebels Friday on a nearby oil depot. The attack during the first practice Friday could be heard at the track and smoke could be seen billowing in the background of the circuit.

Drivers met several times on Friday for more than four hours discussing safety concerns and whether or not they should compete. F1 and the FIA, the ruling body for the series, assured the competitors that safety measures were in place.

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