Verstappen quickest in opening Mexican GP practice

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Max Verstappen kicked off Formula 1’s return to Mexico by topping the timesheets in first practice at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Verstappen posted a fastest lap time of 1:25.990 in a session that saw all of the drivers heading out to get as much mileage as possible to learn the track.

This weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix is the first to be held since 1992, with the track in Mexico City being reprofiled in places to be up to Formula 1 standards.

Overnight rain left the track damp for the first 30 minutes of the session, forcing the drivers to head out on the intermediate tire before eventually making the switch over to slicks.

Verstappen rose to the top of the timesheets with five minutes remaining, taking top spot by three-tenths of a second ahead of Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat who had led for much of the session.

Replays did show that Verstappen cut one of the esses on his final lap, but his time was not deleted by the stewards, allowing him to retain top spot.

Nico Rosberg’s hopes of ending his recent run of bad luck were dashed in FP1 as a brake fire developed on his Mercedes, forcing the German to sit out most of the session. He eventually returned to the track for one flying lap at the very end of FP1, finishing sixth-fastest.

Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton finished a further half a second back in P11, but like most of the drivers, the three-time world champion spent much of his session focusing on mileage instead of optimum lap time.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen also had a brake issue develop on his car, but a quick repair from Ferrari allowed him to rally to third place ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel in P4. Daniel Ricciardo followed his former teammate home in fifth.

Following Rosberg in sixth, Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz Jr. managed to slip into seventh and eighth, while home favorite Sergio Perez ended the session ninth. Felipe Massa rounded out the top ten for Williams.

FP2 for the Mexican Grand Prix is live on NBC Sports Live Extra from 4pm ET, with delayed-as-live coverage being shown on NBCSN at 11:30pm ET.

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.”