F1 2011 Race Diary: Season 1, HRT, Monaco (16th, Q20)

Monaco is, of course, the hardest real-life circuit to master in any video-game. I rate it as harder than the Nurburgring Nordschleife. Every mistake, no matter how small, is punished harshly, hopefully, just through a bit of lap time. Not qualifying last (on a well-matched difficulty level) and finishing the race are always my objectives, regardless of what the game wants. So qualifying 20th not 24th was a good result for me and the race. Well, the race usually goes better than qualifying. A muscular start (and my single flashback) saw me capture and solidify a massively satisfying 13th. After emerging from my pit stop, I was just behind my team-mate Liuzzi and the next opportunity was if he left the door open at La Rascasse. He did and I dived up the inside but I hadn’t reckoned on him going a bit slow there because he was going in the pits. Even as my engineer reminded me to be careful overtaking him, my wheel was in his side and a harsh but legitimate drive-through penalty was mine. As I was by the pits, I followed Liuzzi in and hoped that, even though the engineer and on-screen messages hadn’t had time to complete telling me about my penalty, the game would recognise my prescience and not punish me for it. Thankfully, it didn’t and I emerged way down in 20th place having served my penalty, someway behind my official objective of 16th. Still, my real objective is finish Monaco and so I settled in for the remaining 10 laps and was delighted to see people coming back toward me. A couple of typically ugly overtakes later and I’m in 17th with Perez a good way up the road and out of reach. With just a few laps to go, though, Perez pits and I sneak by. By this time, it being Monaco, I’ve dinged my front wing enough times that my engineer has offered me a pit stop if I can’t handle it but track position is king at Monaco. I just hold on, beating Perez by a tiny fraction of a second. So I didn’t qualify last, I finished the race at Monaco and, as a bonus, met the team objective of a 16th place finish. Great race and happy result.
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