Gastaldi: Historic races remain the lifeblood of F1

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Lotus deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi has stressed the importance of safeguarding classic races in Formula 1 ahead of next weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.

The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is among the most iconic tracks on the calendar, but is one of many that has come under threat in recent years due to the increasingly global approach that the sport has taken to its calendar.

New events in Singapore, Russia, Abu Dhabi and, as of 2016, Azerbaijan have helped to take F1 to new markets. However, their additions have often come at the cost of more traditional races in nations such as France and Germany.

Speaking ahead of the race in Belgium, Gastaldi said how classic circuits such as Spa remain integral to F1’s image and are relevant even in the more global era of the sport.

“In my opinion it is vital,” Gastaldi said when asked how important races such as the Belgian Grand Prix are.

“These tracks are the lifeblood of F1. There wouldn’t be a tennis season without Wimbledon or a golf season without the Masters at Augusta.

“These circuits need to be maintained in F1 because the fans identify with them so much and they nearly always create excitement.

“I think we have a good balance of tracks in F1. Some traditional like Spa, Silverstone and Monza, some great street circuits like Monaco and Singapore and then newer F1 markets like Russia, the Middle East and the US.

“F1 should be about variety in every context while at the same time being relevant to partners, fans and teams alike.”

Gastaldi also reacted to speculation about a possible sale of Lotus to Renault ahead of the 2016 season, remaining coy and saying that there was nothing to say on the matter.

“This is always part of F1, the rumour, intrigue and speculation,” Gastaldi said.

“We can expect all kinds of waffle in the Spa paddock but there’s nothing to report from the team. We’re focusing on our racing and we’re hopeful of a strong result in Spa.”

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.”