Leclerc, in Ferrari debut, tops opening day of Hungary test

Photo: Zak Mauger/FIA Formula 2

Charles Leclerc has made his first day in the Ferrari SF-17 a good one, topping the charts in the first day of the two-day test post-the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Monegasque driver has dominated the Formula 2 season and enjoyed his first run in a Formula 1 car this year by taking over the Ferrari after the team’s 1-2 finish in Hungary this weekend.

Leclerc completed nearly 100 laps on the day with a best time of 1:17.746, set on Pirelli’s soft compound.

A pair of race drivers were next up with Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren Honda) and Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) in second and third. Vandoorne was only 0.088 off pace with Bottas nearly a second off.

Mercedes junior George Russell also had his first day in an F1 car, completing more than 100 laps himself in a busy day’s work. With Bottas doing 155, it was a crazy day for Mercedes AMG Petronas with 274 laps banked.

Other young drivers that tested today included Nikita Mazepin and Lucas Auer, who split running at Force India, Canadian Nicholas Latifi with Renault, Sean Gelael at Toro Rosso, Santino Ferrucci with Haas and Gustav Malja with Sauber.

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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.”