F1’s midfield set for potential musical chairs carousel in 2017

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The week in-between the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday and the next race, the Brazilian Grand Prix on November 13, figures to be as good a time for at least one or potentially more dominos to fall in the Formula 1 silly season.

The following seats remain unconfirmed for 2017:

  • Force India 2
  • Haas 2
  • Renault 2
  • Manor 1 and 2
  • Sauber 1 and 2

Williams is due to confirm new signing Lance Stroll alongside Valtteri Bottas officially later this week. Stroll will thus be the first Canadian in the sport since Jacques Villeneuve, the 1997 World Champion who last raced in 2006.

The drivers then that remain as-yet unsigned for 2017 who’ve raced full-time in 2016 are:

  • Esteban Gutierrez, Haas
  • Kevin Magnussen, Renault
  • Jolyon Palmer, Renault
  • Pascal Wehrlein, Manor
  • Esteban Ocon, Manor
  • Marcus Ericsson, Sauber
  • Felipe Nasr, Sauber

Motorsport.com reported Magnussen had been offered a two-year deal from Haas. Palmer, meanwhile, has been among the five linked to the vacant Force India seat along with both Manor drivers – owing to their Mercedes connections – and both Sauber drivers.

Force India management has said a decision will come once Vijay Mallya sorts through the candidates this week. Sergio Perez said in Austin this was the “best available” seat on the grid and on current team performance levels, he’s not wrong.

Gutierrez has been coy about where in the future he’ll be if not at Haas, but the Mexican seems confident he’ll be on the grid next year. As he told NBCSN on Sunday in Mexico City, “I am confident I will be back. We’re pushing all the way and we’ll find out more in the next two weeks.”

The Manor teammates are in a head-to-head battle, theoretically, for one seat at Force India. A week ago, it looked as though the Renault teammates were actually in a head-to-head battle for the second seat at Renault, before the Magnussen report arose.

Nasr’s future will likely be a topic of speculation at Brazil, given it’s his home race, he has funding available via Banco de Brasil and with Felipe Massa’s impending retirement, he’d be in line as the only Brazilian left on the grid next season. Yet of late, he’s rarely been as on form as Ericsson.

The usually overlooked Swede has instead been on a good run of form in recent races in qualifying, and was perhaps unlucky to come up with only P11 in Mexico, one spot away from what would have been a crucial first point of the season.

This then doesn’t factor in any potential wild card drivers who could enter the frame later on. Either of Pierre Gasly, who’s been passed over by Toro Rosso, or GP2 Series points leader Antonio Giovinazzi has the talent to be considered for a drive. Giovinazzi also has an LMP1 test to look forward to later this month.

The third-through-fifth-placed drivers, Raffaele Marciello, Sergey Sirotkin and Jordan King are high on GP2 experience as well, and King is positioned nicely at Manor should one or two of that team’s seats open up, as they figure to.

The Force India and Haas second seats appear to be the first two dominos to fall. If a Mercedes-backed driver is signed to Force India and Magnussen takes the reported offer from Haas, then that leaves the rest of the drivers fighting over the remaining vacancies.

It all seems like it’s about to get busy here and with two races to go in 2016, those not yet signed for next year will be keen to deliver important drives.

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.”