The 2011 Atomic F1 Championship, a series organised by Lambo, pits racing geek against racing geek with Codemasters F1 2010 as the platform. Races are held at every Sunday 6pm EST. Each round comprises to F1 2010 races over 40% with cars on equal performance setting and no aids, although reduced rules/flags is used.
I’ve been playing iRacing this year and F1 2010 felt a bit different. Mainly the speed was different, coming from a Mazda MX-5 to a Formula 1 car, a few differences are to be expected. I did spend about 30 minutes re-acclimatising myself to the feel (physics) of F1 2010 prior to racing, but moving house this past week put a damper on practice sessions of worthwhile durations on F1 2010 or iRacing.
This year I’m driving the Ferrari and racing with Lambo, last years championship winner. I expect our closest competitors to be the Flouncy/Mark84 team, as both were strong performers last year.
I’m hoping that this year my Title aspirations are bolstered by my recent iRacing experience, and so far I think it had helped. At the start of last season I was mentally prepared to dominate 100%, like do my real life friends when it comes to racing. I was at first shocked that I was clearly immediately fastest. Although I think my time trial times indicate a high level or raw speed my race aggression and resulting errors gave me poor results. More humbled by my introduction to iRacing and the talent there, I’m approaching this season more cautiously. Firstly I don’t want to get caught up in a need to win. iRacing being my preferred playground means I’m not really caring what I do in F1 2010, just that I have fun. Now the races are 40% I’ve got more time to make things happen. That sense of urgency I felt in 20% ‘sprints’ is gone and I don’t need to make passes on the first corner, because I can be assured that many people will make many mistakes during each race. The most important thing is to stay on track and stay consistently quick.
Race 1 – Bahrain
The opening race was Bahrain, where the weather was dry and hot. Qualifying was interesting. My first timed lap was the qualifying time. I intended for that lap to just be a sighter and took it pretty easy. Unfortunately, as they tend to do, nerves go the better of me and I stuffed my other attempts up. Still, third on the grid was good.
I got away from the line good, passing Lambo for second place and approaching Flouncy in the lead. Remembering my goal for this season and noticing Lambo, my teammate, was to my left and had the inside line to turn 1, I left plenty of room and he got his spot back. Flouncy made a few errors in the next few turns and Lambo got by into the lead. I nearly made it through to but received the slightest of taps and it was enough for Flouncy to keep second place while Lambo pulled away.
The next 10 or so laps were perhaps the most fun I’ve had in the Atomic F1 comp to date. We both raced cleanly, and there were numerous swaps of positions between us. It appeared that Flouncy (as did Lambo) had a speed advantage down the straight, while I was faster through the tight stuff. I’ll say it’s down to driver skill, but it’s probably that I set my car up more for down force (6 front wing and 5 rear) and my 7th gear ratio was wrong. I wasn’t lighting the top few lights just before turn 1’s braking zone.
I watched Lambo pit on lap 8 (clearly he wasn’t that far ahead) and both Flouncy and I continued. My tyres were still in optimal condition. On lap 11 Flouncy had pulled out a 3.4s gap and that gap started to increase. I dived in to pit on Lap 13 and to my amazement came out in second, a few seconds up on Lambo. The next lap round I drop it coming out of turn 1 / into turn 2 and spun, giving Lambo the change to get by.
I followed closely, inspecting his gearbox for a few laps before losing it at the same place Flouncy did on lap one and hitting the nearby wall. Thankfully no damage was done, but with 2 laps left and a 30 second gap back to fourth, I cruised home, happy with my third place finish.
Race 2 – Melbourne
I’m a fan of Melbourne. It’s my home race and it’s good fun. Pity it was belting down rain. I qualified fourth. Again, I knew I could go faster but I ran out of time.
I took a massive gamble on my opening stint tyre choice and selected intermediates. Unfortunately the rain was really hard and I while I survived the first corner chaos, I then lost it at the next, and pretty much every other corner for the next few laps. I dawdled round in second last place barely touching the throttle; hoping the rain would clear (65% chance of rain). It didn’t, and I pitted for full wets, coming out 2 minutes and 9 seconds behind the leaders. I pegged that gap for the next several laps. The full wets felt like slicks and I had bucket loads of grip and confidence. I was catching fifth and fourth, having their own battle, at about 5 seconds a lap! I past them when they pitted about lap 17 but my tyres were shot and I pitted on lap 20 for dry option tyres, relegating me back to second last.
I’m left to dream about what could have been if I didn’t try and second guess the weather.