Force India hopes to be more of a force this weekend in Bahrain


Sahara Force India drivers Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg look to recapture results close to what they achieved a couple years ago for this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

The two teammates had their best Bahrain finishes there in 2014. Perez finished third, while Hulkenberg wound up two spots behind in fifth. It was Perez’s first podium with Force India and snapped a five-year podium drought for the team dating to the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix, when Giancarlo Fisichella finished second.

“I have some very good memories from Bahrain,” Perez said in the team’s advance release. “The race in 2014 was just fantastic when I celebrated my first podium with the team.”

Perez would like another podium at Bahrain, where he’s finished 11th, sixth, third and eighth in his four career starts there.

With his first time there in 2010, Hulkenberg has made five starts in Bahrain: 14th, 12th, 12th, fifth and 13th.

“Bahrain is a special place,” Hulkenberg said. “As a circuit, it’s very different to Melbourne: it’s not bumpy at all; it’s very smooth and it’s full of slow corners.

“There are a several overtaking spots and the whole track, with long straights and big braking zones, makes for some great wheel-to-wheel racing. It’s a track that rewards attacking, so hopefully we will see lots of action in the race.”

In this year’s season opening race at Melbourne, Hulkenberg finished seventh, while Perez was 13th.

“We’ve started the season in the right way by getting some points on the board, even though we had the potential to come away from Australia with many more,” Hulkenberg said.

“The red flag came out at the worst possible moment for our strategy and that cost us some positions, but we still managed to fight back and come away with an important seventh place: I am happy with that.”

Perez wasn’t as happy with his own outing at Melbourne.

“Australia didn’t bring the result I was hoping, for so I am targeting a better outcome from Bahrain,” Perez said. “Getting a bad start really compromised my race last time out because I got stuck in the middle of cars on different strategies and I couldn’t recover.”

Perez added, “I am confident we can be strong again this year and get back all the points I missed in Australia. There were lots of positives we can build on, such as our strong qualifying speed and race pace.”

Team Principal Vijay Mallya is optimistic of an even better showing for both drivers.

“On paper Bahrain should be a strong track for us so I’m optimistic we can deliver a similar level of performance to that which we showed in Melbourne,” he said. “We will have some new aerodynamic developments, which will add some performance to the front of the car, so we will work hard to optimize those during the weekend.”

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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.”