Pressure on Lewis Hamilton at Japanese Grand Prix

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SUZUKA, Japan (AP) For Lewis Hamilton, there is no better track than Suzuka to re-ignite his Formula One title hopes after the disappointment of last weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

Hamilton’s engine failed while leading in Malaysia, handing the victory to Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo. Title rival and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg finished third to stretch his championship lead to 23 points with five races remaining.

Urgently needing a win to restore both his confidence and title chances, Hamilton is in the right place for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix after winning the previous two races in Suzuka.

“I will find strength from within to fight back over these next five race weekends,” Hamilton said. “If I can perform like I did last weekend and the car holds together, then good things can still come my way.”

Hamilton was furious after the incident in Malaysia but said he is doing his best to put it behind him.

“Last weekend was a massive disappointment,” Hamilton said. “Not just for me personally but for the whole team. But there’s no use dwelling on these things. That’s just negative energy.

“The guys are hurting from what happened, too, and I know they’ll be working just as hard to get things right next time. It’s not the lowest point I’ve had. There have been lower moments for sure.”

Mercedes technical chief Paddy Lowe admitted the team let Hamilton down.

“Malaysia was a bitter pill to swallow,” Lowe said. “We let Lewis down in a big way. We are continuing to investigate the issue with his engine and are doing everything we can to ensure that it is first understood and then contained for the remainder of the season.”

Rosberg, meanwhile, will be eager to widen the advantage over Hamilton in his quest for his first championship.

The German driver has started from pole and finished second at last two races in Suzuka.

“I’m here to win races and that’s the aim every time,” Rosberg said. “Suzuka is the next opportunity and I’d love to stand on top of the podium there.”

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.”