Canada is probably my favourite circuit (along with Istanbul and Spa) and I always seem to go well there. However, the email from my engineer doesn’t have good news: it’s going to be a very wet weekend. High downforce is the name of the game here, not HRT’s strong point (it doesn’t have any), but practice yields a bit of hope that, unlike Australia, I may be in my rightful position and achieve the qualifying objective.
The qualifying session starts amazingly – halfway through I’m still in 3rd – but Codemasters exemplary wet weather features mean that there is a slightly grippier line becoming visible and the computer cars are starting to take advantage of it. I emerge with enough time for three laps but with traffic and an out-braking myself here and there I can’t improve on my earlier time and finish the session in 16th. That’s still good but I could taste the top ten.
The race itself will take place in heavy rain. The lights come on, and stay on for what seems like an eternity before the race explodes into life as the might of 20,000 horses rages into the first corner. Remarkably, I’m keeping it clean and making up places. I’m on the inside for 1 (Virage Senna), the outside for 2, the inside for 3 and a bit of manners for Mark Webber. Spectacular visibility issues cause me to just outbrake Massa into the next corner, Ponte de la Concorde, and myself. Webber nips back through but I know I’m great at the next chicane and a few more manners for Webber sees me back through. As I emerge from Épingle onto the back straight (Droit de Casino), I glance at my position and I’m in 8th behind Kobayashi who is already gapping me. I love Canada!
As I approach Épingle for lap 2, Kobayashi has tried to take 6th and failed putting him off-line and I disbelievingly slide into 7th. Kobayashi and I lock horns for the next 10 laps. With my downforce I’m better on the brakes and through corners; with his superior car he’s got the acceleration. But I’ve got track position and track position is king.
The last four laps really click into place as I put in four consecutive fastest laps of anybody in the race and nearly pinch 6th from an out-of-position Buemi. I cross the line in 7th, it’s my first points in F1 2011, HRT’s first points and I even finished ahead of Lewis Hamilton (11th). Thoroughly satisfying. I love Canada!
After installing Dark Souls Prepare to Die Edition, I ran into the following error message posted by Games for Windows Live as it attempted to perform its Zero Day Protection (ZDP) unlock:
“Games for Windows – LIVE has encountered a corrupted file. Please reinstall the game and try again.”
So, I reinstalled using the repair option. Same error message.
I uninstalled, rebooted and reinstalled. Same error message.
I uninstalled Microsoft Games for Windows Live Client and Marketplace and reinstalled using the GFWL setup on the Dark Souls disc.
I updated DirectX using the DirectX setup on the Dark Souls disc.
Same error message.
- After installing, open the Dark Souls folder in Explorer. On Windows 7 64-bit the default installation folder is “C:\Program Files (x86)\NAMCO BANDAI Games\DarkSouls”
- Go into the Zdp folder and run Zdp.exe.
For me, this successfully unlocked the files and allowed me to run the game.
I suspect the reason for the failure before is that one of the files that Zdp wants to unlock is DarkSouls.exe but it can’t access it because that file is the one you ran to launch the game.
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.
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.
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.