F1 2011 Race Diary: Season 1, HRT, Malaysia (11th, Q19)

The Sepang circuit is another one I don’t really like because I am rubbish at Turns 5 and 6 and, especially, Turns 13 and 14.

Still, a solid qualifying gave me confidence that I should be able to meet my career objective of finishing 18th or higher

A tidy start and a refusal to back off the throttle out of Turn 2 got me all the way up to a very pleasing 7th. That set me up for the race even though I realised that there were a number of faster cars behind me. A surprisingly smooth pitstop saw me out in 12th and, after the Prime boys stopped later, left me in 11th with four cars close behind and four laps to go. I didn’t make any mistakes but the racing was superb. Sometimes they would slip by and I would outbrake them into the next corner. In the end, I held 11th and was delighted.

F1 2011 Race Diary: Season 1, HRT, Australia (19th, Q24)

Melbourne is a circuit I don’t like because races always seem to go badly and it rains just way too much in games. Qualifying therefore took place in torrential rain. AI cars, of course, require no practice to go full speed in the rain and after half-a-dozen laps I’m still several seconds off my team-mate and have earned myself a broken front wing. Repairs cost the entire remaining time so I’m at the back of the grid. The race is in the dry and an excellent start sees me get up to 15th without damage, three places above my objective. An excursion into a sandtrap on the pit-in lap sees four cars go streaming by and from then on it’s an uphill battle to get back to 18th. Though I did make it, unfortunately, the much faster Rubens Barrichello emerged from a pit-stop just behind me and whooshed by without problem. Starting the season with Australia and Malaysia are always an exercise in damage-limitation for me and, to be fair, I’m pleased I’m not last and that I finished.