Raikkonen’s day at Barcelona; tops timesheets, debuts ‘Halo’ device

Getty Images

The man who frequently says the least about the race series he competes in will be the trigger for more words than normal for a simple test session.

Scudeira Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen led the timesheets on the second-to-last day of preseason testing, with a 1:22.785 the best time of the day on Pirelli’s purple ultrasoft compounds. He also ran a race simulation as well during the afternoon period.

Ultrasoft laps produced three of the best four times on the day, with Nico Hulkenberg (Force India, 1:23.251) and Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso, 1:23.382) in third and fourth. Felipe Massa of Williams turned in the best time of the day on soft compounds, a 1:23.193 that was good enough for second.

But arguably, the more important headline of the day also involved Raikkonen, as he was the first driver to publicly debut the new halo device, a form of additional cockpit head protection which could be on its way to the sport in the future.

Raikkonen, who in classic concise form called the device “OK,” ran the device in the morning and it remains to be seen whether teammate Sebastian Vettel will also run with the device for the fourth and final day of running on this week’s test, and last of the preseason. Vettel has stated his interest for some form of increased cockpit protection in the past.

The session ended a few minutes early due to Haas F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean being stranded on course at Turn 10.

Seven drivers posted more than 100 laps on the day, with Verstappen topping them all at 159 laps completed. Hulkenberg (137) and Raikkonen (136) were also particularly busy.

In his second day of running in the Sauber C35, Felipe Nasr clocked another 100-plus lap day with 116 laps in the books. Meanwhile Fernando Alonso nailed down 118 on the day in the McLaren MP4-31 Honda.

Pascal Wehrlein posted a respectable 1:24.913 on ultrasofts for Manor MRT in 48 laps, which was good for eighth on the day.

Grosjean’s late issue aside, he completed 78 laps in what was the VF-16’s busiest day of running this week after the nagging turbo issues that have sidelined the car most of Tuesday and Wednesday.

Times are below:

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.”