2014 Japanese Grand Prix Preview


As Formula 1 ventures to the land of the rising sun, night is slowly beginning to fall on the 2014 season with just five rounds remaining.

However, in the final quarter of the year, there is a great deal to be settled. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg continue to duel at Mercedes, and in a rivalry that is being compared to that of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, where better than Suzuka to settle the score?

The momentum undoubtedly lies with Hamilton following back-to-back wins that have put him back in control of the championship. He leads Rosberg by three points after the German driver was sidelined in Singapore by an electrical problem, leaving him reeling. Given that he has not won a race since the German Grand Prix in the middle of July, the pressure is on Nico to find his form once again and to stop Lewis from running away.

Although many will be looking for a repeat of the Senna/Prost clashes at turn one, such an event is unlikely following the clash at Spa and the immediate consequences. Instead, we should relish the prospect of an all-out straight fight at the front that we have been robbed of in the past few races.

Further back, there is still a great deal to be decided both on and off track. Ferrari and Williams continue to scrap over third place in the constructors’ championship, but Fernando Alonso’s future may be the more immediate concern for the Italian marque. Speculators thought an announcement from Honda confirming the Spaniard at McLaren for 2015 could come at its home race, but instead we will have to keep guessing.

Suzuka is one of F1’s most infamous circuits, and the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix will look to provide its own memorable moments that will be looked back on in years to come.

2014 Japanese Grand Prix – Talking Points

Three-peat for Lewis?

Does luck come into a championship fight? Of course it does. Lewis Hamilton has been terribly unlucky this year, but teammate Nico Rosberg got a taste of the same medicine in Singapore when an electrical issued sidelined him. Although the German will be hoping to hit back at Suzuka, Hamilton will know that a third win in a row could be crippling in the psychological battle. It would also give him victory at a circuit all the greats have won at. Much like Monaco, Silverstone and Spa, Suzuka is a track that everyone wants to win at.

The return of Seb and Kimi

The race in Singapore was an important one for both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, as both appeared to show signs of a revival in a season that has led many to question their ability. Vettel ran well to P2, and although his hopes of a fifth win at Suzuka are slim, he’ll be gunning for another podium finish behind the Silver Arrows. Raikkonen may have faded by the end of the race at Marina Bay, but he too appears to be in better shape than he was a few weeks ago. The Finn will want to make the most of it at the site of his finest hour in 2005.

The Power of Dreams

This weekend is an important one for Honda, given that it is the brand’s home race and the final Japanese Grand Prix before its return to Formula 1 in 2015. We were given a teaser shot of its 2015 power unit earlier this week, and more details are due across the course of the race weekend. Perhaps we’ll have a better idea of what direction McLaren is heading in come Monday?

Is the end nigh at Caterham?

Yesterday, we heard the sad news that Caterham had a number of goods seized by bailiffs from its factory in England due to unpaid debts, including the upgrades that were meant to be used in Japan. Essentially, it means this weekend isn’t going to be a very fruitful one, and merely racing is an achievement. The team has insisted that all is well and problems aren’t afoot, but it is difficult to see what the future holds. The team’s entry in F1 is safe, but the means to actually race are far from it.

Typhoon trouble

Thursday was a wet affair at Suzuka (not that the fans cared), and it looks to get far, far worse later this weekend as Typhoon Phanfone threatens to quite literally rain on F1’s parade. The category 3-4 typhoon is currently in the Pacific, but is set to come up towards Japan later this weekend, hitting Suzuka on Sunday and Monday. Already questions have been asked about possibly running the race on Saturday to avoid any cancellation, but for the time being, everything is set to run as normal. If anyone is selling Kamui Kobayashi-branded umbrellas at Suzuka, you’ll make a killing.

Japan – Facts and Figures

Track: Suzuka Circuit
Laps: 53
Corners: 18
Lap Record: Kimi Raikkonen 1:31.540 (2005)
Tire Compounds: Medium (Option); Hard (Prime)
2013 Winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2013 Pole Position: Mark Webber (Red Bull) 1:30.914
2013 Fastest Lap: Mark Webber (Red Bull) 1:34.587
DRS Zones: Main Straight (T18 to T1)

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”