Circuit Name: Sepang International Circuit.
Number of Laps: 56.
Circuit Length: 5.543 km.
Race Distance: 310.408 km.
Lap Record: 1:34.223 by JP Montoya in 2004.
For more information including a circuit diagram please see the Formula 1 website here.
I went for an engine change in this practice session. The game automatically changed the engine to a newer one however due to the wear and tear percentage still being in the high 90s then I felt it would be useful to keep this engine and use the new engine for the next race. This way if I particularly have to push an engine in a race later on in the season I have some margin for the next 7 engines. Due to regulations changing an engine means missing the rest of this practice session.
The wet conditions at the start of the session made it difficult to set up the car to the proposed dry conditions on race day. Half way through the session it did stop raining and the track did start to dry out however determining any major changes to performance and fine tuning would have to wait until P3. Interestingly I received a puncture on intermediate tyres whilst the track was still wet. My first puncture of my career and in practice conditions has meant it hasn’t affected me.
A good session however I was awarded a 5 place grid penalty for going across the grass to the pit lane entrance due to missing the actual tarmac. No warnings just an automatic penalty however this was in the first half of the session so it meant I had to push hard in qualifying. I achieved a best place of 7th in this session with a lap time of 1:38.517.
5th place with a lap time of 1:37.452 on Prime tyres.
5th place with a lap time of 1:37.324 on Option tyres.
6th place with a lap time of 1:37.524 on Option tyres. Slightly worrying that the option tyres didn’t make much difference to my lap times. Looking at the lap times in comparison to the other teams I am happy that Virgin Racing who are notorious for qualifying at the back of the pack would have achieved a place in the top 10. With my 5 place grid penalty it means I will start just outside of that in 11th but I hope to push hard and make into the top ten on race day.
My race strategy consists of starting on Option tyres with a pit stop on the tenth lap to change to Prime tyres. It was recommended to me to pit on lap 7 however I felt that most teams would be doing this and in order to get the most out of the Option tyres I thought it sensible to pit later.
I lined up on the grid in 11th place, everything was ready and it was just a case of waiting for the lights to change. I had high hopes about this race in the hope that I would be able to turn around from my two previous races and achieve at least 11th place. This was seemingly confirmed after my brilliant start where on turn 1 I managed to jump past cars into P3. I managed to hold onto this position until lap 3 where unfortunately I dropped back into P6.
Lap 4 brought a fantastic duel with Alonso where I managed to overtake him and move up into P5 however lap 5 things made a turn for the worst. Having concentrated on trying to block another driver I completely mis-judged turn 15 and overshot. Managing to turn around and get back onto the track quickly I only dropped into P7.
I held this position for lap 6 until lap 7 when it went downhill again. Turning out of turn 14 I found myself battling with R Kubica and in my attempts to stop him overtaking I once again overshot on turn 15, however this time I was not so lucky and dropped down into P14.
Lap 8 brought yet more bad luck when I was issued with a drive through penalty for ‘causing a collision’. However I managed to finish this lap in P12, two up from the previous lap.
So with my drive through penalty issued I chose to pit on lap 9 thinking I would be changing my tyres at the same time but I was mistaken! I had forgotten that my planned pit stop was on lap 10 and as such I only did the drive through much to my disappointment I emerged in a measly P24. Next time I shall have to alert my pit crew to the change in schedule. So I entered the pits again on lap 10 to change my tyres from option to prime and to have the wing replaced which was damaged due to an earlier crash. Total pit time of 11.564 and still in P24.
On lap 14 I was still in P24 when I span off yet again. Hamilton in P1 crashed into me as I was attempting to get back into the race, once again I was awarded a drive through penalty for what seemed to be his fault! I had tried to move off to the side where there would be no cars travelling however he had made no attempt to drive around me resulting in the crash. Something good came out of that crash as when I went into the pit lane for my drive through penalty on lap 15 I noticed I had moved up into P23 with Hamilton in P24. Turns out that when he crashed into me it took him out of the race, result!
So to that end I soldiered on, on lap 17 I was just under a minute behind P22 and on lap 19 I moved into P22, for whatever reason Hulkenburg had crashed out. I finished lap 22 and the race in P22.
Well the results were as follows:
1st – F Massa.
2nd – J Button.
3rd – V Petrov.
So I didn’t do particularly well finishing in P22, especially when you consider that my team had set me a goal of finishing above P18. That said I wasn’t last and although this was due to Hamilton and Hulkenburg not finishing the race this didn’t matter to me as I managed to finish and have learnt more about the car and its capabilities than in the previous two races. It seems that true to life the car cannot keep up with the top performing teams and depending on the car setup I have determined that it did struggle on straights whereas I could take the corners much faster. I would much rather be able to, like McClaren early in 2010, take corners faster as in this race although this could potentially cause problems when it comes to tracks based round long straights. A problem I will have to overcome when I get to it. This season should definately be an interesting one for the team and my driving, as I said in the opening paragraph of this challenge this is a whole new experience for me having never played simulation style games or F1. Dirt 2 or Grid don’t really come into the depth and detail of F1 2010 or Formula 1.