On same day as Le Mans, Hulkenberg stretches tire life in Baku

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Perhaps overshadowed by Sahara Force India teammate Sergio Perez, who graced the podium in Sunday’s European Grand Prix at Baku, Azerbaijan, Nico Hulkenberg still had a decent day of his own en route to his third consecutive points finish.

Hulkenberg started 12th and finished ninth, thus adding that result to finishes of sixth in Monaco and eighth in Canada the last two weeks.

Key to his race today was his final stint on Pirelli’s supersoft tires, having stretched them the last 31 laps in the 51-lap race.

“Just about at the end they were shaved. They had nothing left!” Hulkenberg told NBCSN’s Will Buxton post-race.

“It was a tricky race. I had a good start. Then I got hit into Turn 1. I couldn’t recover from a spin. Then we lost a couple positions at the exit of Turn 1. From there onwards, I had to go through traffic a bit. So 30 to 31 laps was a big ask.”

Interestingly, Hulkenberg’s day of tire saving occurred mere hours after the team he drove for this weekend last year – Porsche Team – captured the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Le Mans, of course, requires quite a bit of tire saving and double, triple or sometimes quadruple stinting the tires.

Asked by Buxton about Porsche’s shock win, which came when Toyota’s leading No. 5 car ground to a halt in the final five minutes, Hulkenberg had nothing but congratulations to offer.

“Congrats to Porsche. To everyone in the team. I’m very excited to be honest, to hear that,” he said.

“I know how hard these guys work, they fully deserve it. Congratulations from the bottom of my heart!”

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.”