I setup the exact strategy I had used last season (when I finished 9th and 10th), got the setup where the drivers were happy, and was very happy after qualifying to find myself starting 8th and 12th. The grid was very tight, with 0.9 seconds between 1st and 28th!
My Technical Director had suggested a two-stop strategy, just like last season, but I went for a three-stopper, and soft tires. I expected a good result out of this race. I even held out hope I could finish in the points.
I got a decent start, but fell back by the end of the lap, dropping to 10th and 13th. By lap 3 I had dropped to 11th and 13th.
The race became a DRS-marathon, with the start/finish straight becoming very important. Timing was everything, as if you were at the head of a group, you could easily lose multiple places without your DRS activated. I got killed on lap 4 and 5, passed twice by groups and dropping to 15th and 17th.
On lap 6 I passed a driver on an early stop, and also took advantage of good positioning to DRS past other cars, moving up to 14th and 18th. Before the end of the lap, I closed in, gaining another couple of places the next lap.
The pack racing was quite intense, and the DRS every lap saw multiple changes of position. Things began to work out well for me, and by lap 13 both cars were in the top 10. This didn’t last long though, I pitted on lap 15, dropping to 18th and 19th.
I made steady progress through the pack, gaining positions by catching and passing people using DRS, but I soon seemed to be settled into a rut with 16th and 17th… This began to concern me, as I wasn’t able to push on the soft tires. My indecision at this point in the race really cost me some points, as I should have switched to hard tires… But I didn’t. I kept plodding around, totally backed off, eventually climbing as high as 12th-place by lap 26.
On lap 27 I even switched to hard tires with my strategy, only to change it back before my stop. But even more eventful things were happening: On lap 28, Menarquez (Team Spamsac F1GP) ran out of fuel coming into the pits while 4th, and retired, gifting me 11th-place. This should have been a signal to Simon that he had to watch fuel more closely with his other car… But that’s easy for me to say, I completely messed this race up with tire strategy!
My pit stop at the end of lap 29 saw me switch onto soft tires, and that decision probably cost me the points I so desperately wanted. I rejoined in 16th and 17th.
Before my final stop, on lap 40, I had finally wised up, but it was too late. I pitted for hard tires from 13th and 16th, and rejoined in 15th and 18th.
By the finish of the race my cars were in formation, running 15th and 16th. Terribly disappointing to have finished that far down on a track I did so well on last season.
Race edit below:
The battle for the win was a pretty good one, as Team Spamsac F1GP and Insecticons GP fought in the final laps. Hódos was passed for the lead beginning the final lap by Woloshyn (Team Spamsac F1GP), just like last week, but Hódos (Insecticons GP) came out on-top when Woloshyn ran out of fuel in the final turn.
Like I said above, Simon did have warning earlier in the race that his strategy was too tight… The nice thing about this win (and the fact that Jon nearly won last week), is that it gives me a bit of hope that someone who comes in later, puts the time in, can win in this league.
Video of the win below:
I am really disappointed by this race, I wanted a point and I didn’t get one. I used a strategy which worked before, and this time I couldn’t keep the tires where they needed to be. I also took too long during the race to make the switch to hard tires. I’m quite furious at myself for not following my instinct… But this is where running a team leads you, through all the downs it can, and why Jon is so delighted to have beaten Simon and gotten his first win. Just wish the downs were over already for me (and that I had KERS, of course).
The team is very happy to announce the signing of Jure Ule and Can Osman who will drive for the team next week in Singapore. Both of these young drivers have a bright future ahead of them, and were introduced to the media and fans at an event in Berlin.
We are very excited about the future of the team.