Early contract talks ‘distracting’ for Ferrari F1 drivers

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Ferrari Formula 1 chief Maurizio Arrivabene has no plans to open early contract talks with drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, believing they would only act as a distraction.

Vettel comes to the end of his three-year deal with Ferrari in 2017, while Raikkonen remains on a year-by-year contract that is also up at the close of the season.

F1’s driver market for 2018 is set to hinge on Ferrari’s move and whether Mercedes opts to keep Valtteri Bottas, the Finn having signed an initial one-year deal for 2017.

Speaking over last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, Arrivabene was asked about Vettel’s future, but said that it was too early to start talking about plans for next year.

“Talking about contracts now is only distracting the attention of our drivers, so I’m not ready to talk about any contracts,” Arrivabene said.

“Then, I would like to see Sebastian happy during the season, because if Sebastian is happy, that means the car is very quick.”

Much of the tension that appeared to brew between Vettel and Ferrari in 2016 was defused in Australia as both claimed their first victory since the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix.

Vettel was able to outpace Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton, taking advantage of the Briton’s struggles on the super-soft tire to finish almost 10 seconds clear at the front of the pack.

Nevertheless, Vettel stressed after winning the race that it was too early to start thinking about a bid for a fifth championship and potentially end Ferrari’s drought that dates back to 2008.

“The first race is not the time to look at the table. As I’ve said before, you really have to go step by step,” Vettel said.

“It’s good to know that we have a great car but it’s just the beginning: new regulations, new generations of cars so there will be a lot of progress.

“[Mercedes] have proved to be the ones to beat for the last couple of years, more and more so. We know that they have a great engine but also they had a great car the last couple of years and they made good steps forward so we are the ones who need to catch up.

“For today I am just very happy and for sure whatever happens this year, the race today doesn’t hurt.”

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.”