Having the opposition set to Professional in Season 1, in a Force India, with following assists:
ABS – Off
Assisted Braking – Off
Tyre Sim – On
Fuel Sim – On
Damage – Cosmetic
Race Distanec 30-40%
TC – Full
Pit Assist – On
Gears – Automatic
Racing Line – Corners Only
I won the Championship with a late surge of wins, just from Vettel and Alonso.
Got the contract offer from Ferrari and duly accepted, and decided I needed to make life more difficult for Season 2.
Tried doing a bit of TC Medium for a while, but it was ridiculous, so I have instead left all unchanged except:
AI – Increased to Expert
Pit Lane Assist – Off
Damage – Realistic
Race distance to 50%
Round 1 / Season 2 / Australia
In the Practice sessions it becomes clear that the Ferrari is not going to be a front runner, even though I have targets of Qualifying 4th and Finishing 2nd come race day.
Come qualifying, I manage to get through to Q2 with a single Prime run, which is encouraging.
I then have to have 2 runs on Options in Q2, and scrape through in 10th place, whilst Alonso qualifies down in 13th.
In Q3 I hang back and have a look at the times being set by the other guys, who are all in the 1:22s / early 1:23s, given my best in Q2 was a low 1:24, I know that pole is not on offering, so go for a counter strategy run around and get a 1:24.8s on the Primes, and settle for 10th place.
Starting from 10th I got a great start, jumping up to 5th initially, through turn 1 before losing back to 6th having run out wide on the exit of turn 2.
Managed to regain 5th place in the breaking zone for turn 3, and was then settling into a groove, catching Rosberg, and pulling away from Di Resta, who was in a surprisingly high 6th place.
Lap 5 and I go past a stricken Rosberg, who has retired, to take 4th place, but can see that I’m a long way off the top 3, over 7 seconds to 3rd placed Hamilton alone.
Around lap 8 of 29, I am still in the groove on the Prime tyres and matching race pace, when the leaders pit, and I am now in the lead, albeit only 3.5 seconds or so ahead of Vettel who has taken his first stop.
On their first couple of laps I’m a lot quicker though, and by the time I pit, the lead is up to 8 seconds to Vettel.
When I exit the pits after an 11 lap first stint, I’ve cleared Webber, who is now a couple of seconds behind me, and I have taken another set of Primes.
After holding Webber back for a couple of laps whilst the tyres get up to temperature, I’m able to push a lot harder, and get down in to the 1:25s / early 1:26s consistently, clawing in to the lead of Vettel and Hamilton in front of me, but only marginally…
When they have their 2nd pit stops I’m up to 2nd, but mug Vettel when he comes out of the pits into the first corner, to retake the lead, albeit a pit stop behind by now.
Manage to eek out the tyres until lap 22, and maintain 1st place ahead of Vettel and Hamilton, knowing that in reality I’m battling Webber for 3rd and 4th now.
When I exit the pits with the fresh soft tyre on, I’ve retained my lead of Webber, which is about 2 seconds, but he’s had a lap on the options and is flying, setting fastest laps.
I then have a tense and nervy last 6 laps with Webber faster in the 1st and last sectors and me significantly quicker in the middle sector, leading to a yoyo-ing gab between around 0.6s and 2.3s. He gets DRS a couple of times, but I’ve been saving my KERS for the straight, and manage to fend him off, ultimately going on to set the 2nd fastest lap of the race with a 1:24.615 and take 3rd spot on the podium!
Really happy with that start against the Experts. Given that Oz is a track that I love, I can see that there’s going to be some difficult weekends at some of my weaker tracks later in the year, cos those guys are damn quick!