RaceDepartment presents Saturday practice and qualifying action from the Verizon IndyCar Series Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach race weekend on Saturday 8th of April. With the 2017 season hotting up following a blistering first race of the year a St. Pete, the season ahead looks to be one of the closest in recent memory. Former Grand Prix driver and American up and coming talent Alex Rossi is back again to defend his 2016 Indy 500 victory and lay down the foundations for a long and successful career in open wheel racing, and old hands Will Power, Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon, Tony Kannan and Hélio Castroneves will be looking to prove that experience and speed can combine to achieve success over the course of the 17 race season. With ovals, street and road courses, plus a car designed to allow ease of overtaking and without the electronic wizardry found in Formula One, IndyCar in 2017 should be a grand old spectacle indeed! The Coverage Friday (as live) coverage can be found here: Saturday coverage starts at 10:45am PT / 6:45am BST / 6:45am CET and will be linked to this article with a slight delay on Saturday (because hey, it's really early in the UK!) If you missed the race last time out, catch it in full below: The Schedule Saturday 8th April IndyCar Free Practice 3: 10:45am PT / 05:45 GMT / 06:45 BST / 06:45 CET IndyCar Qualification: 3:30 PT / 22:30 GMT / 23:30 BST / 23:30 CET* You can catch all the track action here at RaceDepartment from 3:30 PT / 22:30 GMT / 23:30 BST / 23:30 CET, live on our very own RaceDepartment Live Stream page. The Grid Gone are the glory years of 30 car grids packed with international drivers and home grown favourites, however the "American Formula One" is rapidly scaling back up to the heights of it's former glory, with many talented open wheel drivers and teams taking part in the series this season, leaving the championship challenge wide open following the opening race victory for former multiple IndyCar champion and Toro Rosso Grand Prix driver and Le Mans winner Sebastien Bourdais. Using the closely packed qualifying times from the last race at St. Pete as a benchmark, this race is sure to be another hard fought and difficult to win affair. The Teams IndyCar racing and American motorsports are synonymous with several key names from the industry and even today the field boasts a number of highly professional top quality outfits taking to the track. 12 teams line up on the grid in 2017, fielding between one and five cars each, with famous names such as Andretti Autosports, Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske making up the grid, plus newer squads run by former drivers in the form of the A. J. Foyt Enterprises team and former IndyCar star Bobby Rahal's Letterman Lanigan Racing team, running Rahal Junior for another season. The Drivers The driving strength of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series is the strongest it has been for years. Despite fan favourite Juan Pablo Montoya having retired from full time competition at the end of last season, the 2017 grid is packed full of former champions and race winners, ex Grand Prix drivers and young American up and comers, making the season ahead one of the hardest championships to predict in many seasons. Returning for the new year is 2016 IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud who looks to defend his hard won crown at the wheel of his Team Penske Chevrolet Dallara. Pagenaud is joined at Team Penske by the formidable and ever smiling Brazilian Hélio Castroneves and another star driver in the series in the form of 2014 champion Will Power. Juan Montoya will be making a return to driving duties in a fifth car at the Indy 500, looking to recapture a crown secured 2000 and 2015. The Penske team is completed by American youngster Josef Newgarden. Following his surprise opening race weekend victory last time out in St. Pete, everybody's favourite Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais continues to impress IndyCar fans with his blistering outright speed and savvy racecraft. Bourdais joins forces with the ever present Dale Coyne Racing team for the new season having lost his drive at the end of 2016 following the collapse of KVSH racing. At 38 years of age, Bourdais still has what it takes to add to his impressive career resume of four Champcar drivers titles and numerous class wins in top level GT competition. The Calendar March 12: St. Petersburg April 9: Long Beach April 23: Barber April 29: Phoenix May 13: Indianapolis GP May 28: Indianapolis 500 June 3: Detroit June 4: Detroit June 10: Texas June 25: Road America July 9: Iowa July 16: Toronto July 30: Mid-Ohio August 20: Pocono August 26: Gateway September 3: Watkins Glen September 17: Sonoma The Championship Standings Sebastien Bourdais: 53 Simon Pagenaud: 41 Scott Dixon: 35 Ryan Hunter-Reay: 32 Takuma Sato: 31 Helio Castroneves: 28 Marco Andretti: 26 Josef Newgarden: 24 James Hinchcliffe: 23 Ed Jones: 20 Alexander Rossi: 19 Tony Kanaan: 18 J.R. Hildebrand: 17 Mikhail Aleshin: 16 Conor Daly: 15 Max Chilton: 14 Graham Rahal: 13 Will Power: 13 Charlie Kimball: 12 Spencer Pigot: 10 Carlos Munoz: 9 Keep an eye out at RaceDepartment during 2017 as we look to stream more live racing than ever before. It's going to be a great event and a great year ahead! Drop a comment or two below about the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach with your fellow community members and sit back and enjoy the broadcast Happy viewing everyone!