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Indianapolis 500: When to watch practice, qualifying and the epic oval race live on Sky Sports F1

The Indianapolis 500 is here with practice and qualifying taking place this week on Sky Sports F1; Qualifying starts on Saturday, Fast Nine Qualifying at 7.30pm on Sunday; the showpiece Indy 500 oval race is live at 5.45pm on Sunday, May 30

Last Updated: 18/05/21 12:40pm

One of the greatest events in motorsport kickstarts this week as teams and drivers descend on the famous Brickyard for preparations for the Indianapolis 500 – and Sky Sports F1 is your home for all the epic action.

May is a bumper month on Sky F1 with the Monaco GP on May 23 before the super-fast Indy 500 – dubbed the ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ – on May 30, although the oval showpiece is more like a two-week event as practice and qualifying start the week before the intense 500-mile, 200-lap race.

Opening practice is live on the channel from 3pm on Tuesday, May 18 – the first of six consecutive days of action as we get to see who from the list of 35 drivers is looking competitive.

There are also practice sessions this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before qualifying starts on Saturday, May 22 – the same day as the Monaco GP shootout.

The crucial positions are then determined in Sunday’s qualifying sessions, with Fast Nine Qualifying at 7.30pm.

The final practice session – dubbed ‘Carb Day’ – takes place on Friday, May 28 and is also live on Sky F1 from 4pm as drivers and teams get ready for the race two days later.

Sky F1’s extended build-up for the 105th Indianapolis 500 is underway from 3.45pm on Sunday, May 30 before the big race starts at 5.45pm.

How does qualifying work for the Indy 500?

  • Qualifying starts on Saturday (6pm, Sky F1), with the 35 entries all taking part in a bid to seal a high grid slot for the race
  • Positions 10-30 are set from Saturday’s qualifying. Drivers from 31-35 compete in Last Chance Qualifying on Sunday (6pm, Sky F1). There are only 33 slots for the Indy 500 race, so the two slowest drivers are eliminated.
  • Drivers who placed from 1st to 9th from Saturday’s qualifying advance to Fast Nine Qualifying on Sunday (7.30pm, Sky F1). The final results of this session set the top positions for the Indy 500.

Who will be favourites for the Indy 500?

The 2021 IndyCar season has got off to a thrilling start with five winners from the first five races. Three of those were for first-time winners in Alex Palou, Rinus VeeKay and Arrow McLaren’s Patricio O’Ward.

Colton Herta and reigning IndyCar champion Scott Dixon have won the other races, and it is Dixon who is leading the current standings. He is looking for a long-awaited second Indy 500 win, having last triumphed in 2008.

The last seven winners of the event are all taking part this year; Tony Kanaan, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi, Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Takuma Sato and Juan Pablo Montoya – the legendary Colombian who is making his Indy 500 comeback in the third McLaren car, essentially as Fernando Alonso’s replacement from last year.

Montoya has won two Indy 500s before, while three-time winner Helio Castroneves is also an entrant this year.

Arrow McLaren's livery for this year's Indy 500

Arrow McLaren’s livery for this year’s Indy 500

Indianapolis 500: When to watch practice, qualifying and the epic oval race live on Sky Sports F1

Romain Grosjean, while impressing in IndyCar this season, is not taking part.

The Penske and Andretti teams have been Indy 500 forces in recent years and so their drivers will expect to be fighting at the front, although there is growing momentum for McLaren, having shone at the one oval event so far this year.

O’Ward, Montoya and Felix Rosenquist are their drivers for the event.

Dixon and Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing are also seen as favourites given their championship-leading form so far this season, while previous winners Power, Pagenaud, Sato and Rossi are expected to be in the battle.

Sky Sports F1’s Indianapolis 500 schedule in full

Tuesday, May 18
3-7pm: Indy 500 Practice
8-11pm: Indy 500 Practice

Wednesday, May 19
8.30-11pm: Indy 500 Practice

Thursday, May 20
5-11pm: Indy 500 Practice

Friday, May 21
5-11pm: Indy 500 Practice

Saturday, May 22
6-7pm: Indy 500 Qualifying

Sunday, May 23
6-7.30pm: Last Chance Qualifying
7.30-9.30pm: Fast Nine Qualifying

Friday, May 28
4-6pm: Carb Day – Final Practice

Sunday, May 30
3.45pm: Indy 500 build-up
5.45pm: The 2021 Indy 500 LIVE!


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