GRR

Virtual IndyCar finale descends into farce, Vettel makes esports debut – FOS Future Lab

03rd May 2020
Andrew Evans

A bizarre final seven laps in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge spoiled what could have been a celebration for McLaren, and ended a largely entertaining series on a very low note.

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The drama began on lap 63. British F1 driver Lando Norris, aiming for back-to-back victories, used a significant tyre advantage to pass Indy 500 champion Simon Pagenaud and Graham Rahal through the inside of the Brickyard’s first turn. Rahal moved to the right - perhaps giving Norris more space, or maybe registering a collision in the game’s code, otherwise unseen – and collected Pagenaud, wrecking both cars.

A disgruntled Pagenaud headed into the pits and, blaming the Brit for the crash, emerged telling his spotter he was going to “take Lando out”. The Frenchman pottered around Indy until the lead pack caught up and duly obliterated Norris’s car.

With only two laps to go this left McLaren team-mate Patricio O’Ward in the lead from the other remaining McLaren of Oliver Askew. Ex-F1 driver Marcus Ericsson made a bold pass on both to hit the front, but in fighting back O’Ward clipped the Chip Ganassi car, and pushed Ericsson out into the outer wall.

That put Askew into the lead with a corner left, but he wasn’t allowed to take the win either. Within sight of the finish line, Santino Ferrucci – a driver fired from his F2 team in 2018 after deliberately hitting his team-mate – savagely veered into the McLaren, intentionally according to his own stream, smashing him into the outside wall.

Askew crossed the finish line in the air and pointing skyward, in fourth. Penske driver Scott McLaughlin, team-mate of Pagenaud, won from Conor Daly, with Ferrucci third from the airborne Askew and O’Ward.

F1’s replacement Virtual Brazilian Grand Prix – staged as the Zandvoort Circuit the sport would have used this weekend in the real world is not in the current game – was packed with incidents right from the start. Pole-sitter Stoffel Vandoorne in the Mercedes had an enormous tank slapper off the line, collecting cars left and right, before regaining control.

That left Alex Albon and Charles Leclerc to disappear down the road in their own private battle. The duo pulled out a huge advantage over Antonio Giovinazzi, George Russell, and Nicholas Latifi, squabbling for third, while also putting on a show. The lead changed more than 20 times over the 36 laps, with Albon emerging victorious. However Leclerc also picked up a track limits penalty, demoting him to third behind Russell.

Form driver William Byron took an impressive third victory in the NASCAR Pro Invitational, winning at the Monster Mile – Dover International Speedway in Delaware. Byron’s incredible run means he’s finished five of the six races in the top ten and is the only driver to win more than once. He’s also lead more laps than all of the other drivers combined.

Another unstoppable driver is Maximilian Guenther. The German, who races for BMW i Andretti Motorsport in Formula E, won his third Formula E Race at Home Challenge event in a row – including the pre-season practice. He took the lead one corner into this weekend’s race at the fictional Electric Docks circuit as pole-sitter Stoffel Vandoorne – again – crashed out through turn one. That first chicane proved tricky for several drivers, with Andre Lotterer and Pascal Wehrlein both also falling victim chasing down Guenther.

A new format for the All-Star Esports battle saw Esteban Gutierrez and Anthony Davidson win the two races in Malaysia for their Mercedes-Benz teams, while Sebastian Montoya and Adrian Fernandez took the honours in the Legends Trophy races. This event also saw four-time F1 world champion Sebastien Vettel make his esports debut – leading to the rather unique sight of Vettel losing a place to WRC champion Petter Solberg while trying to make a pass on BTCC champion Jason Plato...

Welcome to FOS Future Lab where we report on the latest visions of future technology. We'll be boldly covering flying cars, hoverboards, jetpacks and spaceships with plenty of down to earth topics in between.

  • esports

  • FOS Future Lab

  • Sebastian Vettel

  • IndyCar

  • Formula 1

  • NASCAR

  • Formula E

  • maximilian guenther

  • Marcus Erricson

  • Lando Norris

  • Simon Pagenaud

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