Vergne joins Ferrari as a test driver

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So last week, ex-Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne was all signed up with Andretti Autosport’s FIA Formula E program, which, coupled with his public declaration that he was seeking an IndyCar ride led me (and I’m sure others) to think he could be considered for Andretti’s currently vacant fourth IndyCar seat.

Then comes today’s news, “out of the bleu” as my MotorSportsTalk colleague Luke Smith called it, that “JEV” is turning red instead.

The Frenchman has signed with Scuderia Ferrari as a test and development driver, and will replace Pedro de la Rosa as part of Ferrari’s reserve arsenal. He’ll primarily do simulator work.

Vergne is the second driver from the 2014 grid to have landed with Ferrari even in spite of not having a race seat. Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez – and sponsor Telmex – both signed with Ferrari earlier this week.

“The objective is a unanimous one and that is to help the Scuderia get back to the top step of the podium,” Vergne said in a team release. “Having had two years working in the simulator for a top F1 team and three years racing with Toro Rosso, my experience will add to the great efforts that are currently being made in order to get the team back to its winning ways. I look forward to fulfilling my dream in becoming a member of Scuderia Ferrari and having the tifosi behind me every step of the way.”

Potentially, either driver could be in the frame for a Ferrari-powered race seat with the new Haas F1 Team in 2016, if either is looking longer-term.

On the whole, though, Ferrari now suddenly has a glut of drivers in its stable.

Sebastian Vettel takes up residence alongside Kimi Raikkonen as one of the two race drivers. Gutierrez and Vergne are on the bench as reserve and test/development drivers, respectively.

Then, as our NBC Sports Group F1 pit reporter and insider Will Buxton notes, Ferrari Academy drivers Raffaele Marciello and Antonio Fuoco, longer-term but talented young prospects, fall even further down the depth chart.

Lastly I can’t help but think of Jules Bianchi at this moment. Bianchi was Ferrari’s star prospect in waiting but as he’s recovering in France from his severe injuries occurred at Suzuka; now, he’s in a fight for his life, rather than a race seat.

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.”