@Fixy What difficulty level do you actually play at? Wins in an HRT?
I had a rubbish weekend like I usually do at the Hungaroring. Rubbish not in terms of results – but in terms of me struggling and having to dig deep. I am fast at the ‘ring – I have the pace; and I never have balance issues. But I always kill my tyres prematurely. Qualified a rubbish 8th though.
Before the GP I spent a bit of time just driving in the time trial mode to acquaint myself with the balance – then I went back into the race. I hit the power up to mix 3 as soon as the red lights went out; and I busted the KERS bank into Turn 1. I was up into 4th – but then I saw Hamilton (then-3rd) run wide; and that was him out of the picture. I got a good exit out of 1 and was right on Webber (P2)’s gearbox; and as he defended the turn in I could get up alongside him; on the outside. I braked a bit later; and I had a very sharp turn in; powering out very straight and cutting back on his line. I was past Mark before I even got to the full exit. Alonso was in P1 – and my exit was quite strong from T2 so I naturally had a run on him into 4. I divebombed down his inside into Turn 4 under braking – and pulled it off.
I knew I was rubbish at combining pace and tyre life at Hungaroring; so at that point it was just about painstaking tyre management – being expecially careful on the traction; and having a small lift in the normally-flat corners. I braked maybe with about 90% of my usual intensity (I’m a super-late super-hard braker). I just held myself back and managed the tyres all the way through all the stints – and whenever a guy in the leading pack pitted; I would turn up the engine mix; and bang in a qualifying inlap. That kept me ahead the whole race – just. One of my least favorite victories to be honest. I hate not driving flat out (but the dynamics and excitement of racing with tyre sim on keep me leaving it on)
Spa’s a strong track of mine – and I qualified a magnificent 4th. The race start was dry and I started on the options which I qualified on. I did my usual trick of hitting mix 3 as the lights went out; and I was up into P2 by La Source. I didn’t deploy any KERS at all from La Source – I didn’t want to catch Vettel in P1 too soon. I just about caught him as we were turning in for Raidillon – and I just streamed past into Les Combes. Sector 2 was my weak spot – especially the Fagnes chicane. I can never seem to get good turn-in into Fagnes 1; and so the AI was able to catch up there at times – which gets pretty scary at times. But I decided to not let that distract me; and I just kept on pushing. I knew the AI were stronger than me over the lap – so I just focused on my braking into the bus stop; and my exit out of La Source. It seemed to work the whole time for me – though by the time we were at the entry to Pouhon they would be all over the back of me again. I held them back for 2 option stints. It started raining on Lap 9 – and by the end of Lap 11 – when I was due to pit anyways; my tyres were finished, and losing temperature – and I just had no turn in. I managed to keep the AI back though; and I tried to maximise the pit entry as best as I could, and amazingly I won 2.3s over the car behind there. That’s crucial because as we all know – usually the AI gets a better stop and you’re stuck in the box for 9 seconds. I kept the lead, but now things had changed. It was like I was driving a new car – and I was finally able to just keep distance from the P2 man – unlike the last time on dries; where they could catch me willy nilly.
2 laps later and it was reaching the end of Lap 12. I had had some trouble turning in into Stavelot 2 – and my back caught a BIG slide at the exit of Blanchimont (I stubbornly still tried it flat out – which caused the powerslide) which meant that the AI was near me there. It was obvious to me that there was too much water for the inters to handle – and I pitted for full wets. Again – I stayed in P1 – and with 6 laps left; I thought it would be ok to just gun it. I don’t usually have trouble preserving tyres in Spa anyways. I matched the laptimes of the P2 Webber the whole time – except on the last lap. I had understeer turning into Blanchimont – and that caught me out. I ran wide on the exit and my tail stuck out. Webber was on me at that point. I defended well into the bustop- but I must have finished my tyres too much; because I was unable to carry the speed I thought I could; into the exit of the bus stop. I understeered wide and Webber cut back from underneath me – on the last corner of the last lap. That hurt. Still – P2.
I started Monza pessimistic. It was my bogey track. There was no other track where I had as much trouble getting pace. I qualified a measly 15th; though to my “comfort” Barrichello was 18th. I knew tyre preservation was my strongest key in Monza – and with only a 21 lap race (I play 40% length) I looked at the strategy recommendation – which the AI usually does too. It was 6 laps on options; another 6 laps on options; then a final 9 lap stint on the primes. Or some such. I changed my strategy – starting on primes for 12 laps – then a 9 lap stint on the options. I figured – as long as I could get a good start; and keep the Q3 runners within a pitstop for 6 laps – they’d come out of their first stop behind me; and with my stop coinciding with their 2nd – I would have the advantage as I would be on options.
I had a great start and was up to 8th – I don’t know how I managed to slot through in that manic first chicane. I hate Monza starts. I managed to overtake the P7 Heidfeld on the outside of Grande (shades of Vettel on Alonso :P) and Petrov in P6 somehow managed to run wide onto the gravel on the exit of de la Roggia – which I gladly took. So I was in P6; and I just set out doing my thing. It was painful seeing the AI stream away at over a second a lap – but I told myself to not be distracted and just knuckled down. They DID pit on lap 6 – and I was up to P3. Lap 7 – the half of the field that hadn’t pitted; pitted. I was in the lead. Vettel in P2 was about 7 seconds behind me – though he started lapping 2s faster; I had just about enough to hold him off – and we pitted together on lap 12. I moved onto my option stint – him onto the primes. I came out in P4 – with Hamilton, Webber and Alonso on the primes up ahead. I set my engine to mix 3 – and set off trying to get the undercut to them. Which worked – just. They came out behind me; but I had to be quite strong on the brakes into Turn 1 to stay ahead of Webber. Or get ahead, rather. I tunred the engine back to Mix 2 – and it was just a race of massive defense. Every lap; Webber could get the pit straight DRS. He would fly past me – and I would then tuck behind him for a draft help; then diving down the inside of 1. Trust me – when you have to do that for 6 laps – it’s HARD!
I made a mistake somewhere along the way at Lesmo 1. I carried a bit too much speed; and so had to keep braking past the apex – compromising my exit. Webber got past me – but I dived into Lesmo 2 – and though I left plenty of room to my left on the exit; Webber (or the AI, anyways) swerved left to avoid me. He went on the gravel; but recovered before losing a place.
I was concerned about them getting me on the pit straight on the final lap – so on the final lap I just focused on good exits from Lesmo 2 and from Rettfilio; with no KERS use. I saved that all for the exit of the Parabolica – and kept my victory – a victory won not on pace; but purely by tyre conservation.