Nasr: Early races present golden opportunities for Sauber

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Felipe Nasr believes that Sauber has a golden opportunity to rack up points in the early stages of the 2015 Formula 1 season whilst a number of its rivals struggle to find their feet.

Nasr made his first F1 start at the Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago, charging to fifth place at the flag to record the best ever finish for a Brazilian driver on debut.

With Sauber teammate Marcus Ericsson finishing eighth, the race marked a seismic change in fortunes for the Swiss team after it failed to score a single point in the entirety of 2014. It now sits third in the constructors’ championship behind Mercedes and Ferrari.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix, Nasr believes that the problems being faced by teams such as Red Bull, Lotus, McLaren and Force India give Sauber a chance to continue to pick up points and make the most of its early season edge.

“I knew the car had the potential to do it but to hold back Red Bull was unexpected,” Nasr admitted. “It could only show that the car [and] the engine has done a good improvement over the winter, over last year.

“I think we need to take the profit from these early races to maximize our potential and getting the opportunities right. I think there are still teams struggling out there to finish races and we need to use that as an advantage for us.”

Nasr’s success in Australia was made all the sweeter by the fact that it came off the back of a difficult weekend for Sauber that saw the team become embroiled in a legal row with former reserve driver Giedo van der Garde.

“It was very unique I have to say, coming from a very troubled weekend,” Nasr said. “My very first ever weekend in Formula 1 was not ideal the way it started, with all this trouble, going to court and everything else; missing first free practice, a track that I didn’t know.

“So it was a very good outcome to come up fifth in my first ever race and I think for the team as well it was something they really needed. It’s important. It shows the team was ready, myself was ready to put the things on the side and being able to deliver in the race. It was something very special.”

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.”