McLaren makes the most of wet Suzuka practice

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McLaren made the most of Friday’s washout at Suzuka by conducting a number of reliability tests as it continues to iron out the problems in its Honda power unit.

Since rejoining forces with Honda at the beginning of 2015, McLaren’s hopes of returning to the front of the Formula 1 field have been blighted by a number of issues with the power unit.

Drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button have been limited to just four points finishes in total so far this season, with their most recent chance of a top ten finish in Singapore being lost thanks to another technical issue.

With heavy rain hitting Suzuka on Friday and leaving the track wet for both FP1 and FP2, most of the teams ran a shortened practice programme and turned their attention to FP3 on Saturday when conditions are expected to be dry and sunny.

However, McLaren opted to make the most of the three hours of running as both Alonso and Button completed some tests to ensure that the problems from Singapore had not carried over to Japan.

“This wasn’t too much of an important day,” Alonso said. “The conditions for tomorrow and Sunday look to be dry, so today’s running probably wasn’t too representative. Nevertheless, we ran some reliability tests in order to try to understand the problems we experienced in Singapore.

“Now those checks are done, we’ll maximise our efforts ahead of FP3 tomorrow – that’ll be the only opportunity we’ll have before qualifying to push hard on a dry track.”

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier is anticipating another tough weekend for McLaren as the long straights at Suzuka work against the Honda power unit, but is pleased to see the grandstands filled with fans cheering the team on.

“We know that this will be another challenging weekend, but we’re buoyed and heartened by the groundswell of support from an incredibly enthusiastic and passionate bunch of Japanese fans,” Boullier said.

“Their innovative and creative ways of supporting and promoting McLaren-Honda is really breathtaking, and it’s given the whole team additional motivation for this race.

“For everybody out there in the rain, loyally waving a McLaren-Honda flag, wearing a McLaren-Honda T-shirt, or sporting a homemade McLaren-Honda DRS flap-adjustable helmet, you’re all part of the bigger McLaren-Honda family, and we’ll do our very best to give you something to cheer about this weekend.”

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.”