F1 2011 Race Diary: Season 1, HRT, Valencia (10th, Q15)

I forgot to highlight in my Monaco post how much I appreciate men with flags in this game. It’s a reminder of the great Geoff Crammond Grand Prix (aka World Circuit) series of games and a reminder of a couple of small touches he included that modern games still don’t assign any importance to. Being humiliatingly wheeled or craned off the track, cool down laps with all the marshalls waving flags and replays cameras in the same place as the FOM broadcasts.

Anyway, on to Valencia and this is a strange track. Until 2012, real races at Valencia had been low on interest and spectacle largely, I think, because the main straights have walls that intrude where an overtaking car needs to go. While watching races here hasn’t been top drawer, driving them in F1 2010 had been very enjoyable and I tended to qualify below par and race above par.

Pleased to say that my success and enjoyment of this track continues in F1 2011. My qualifying went fine (15th) while my race was a bit harder work.

Curiously, considering that starts are arguably the single most critical element of the race day, games have almost completely ignored them, removing skill and interest in getting all of your horses to propel your car in the fastest possible manner off the start line while retaining control. That said, I managed to make a pudding of my start by concentrating a bit too much on upping the fuel mixture and so I lost a couple of places in the initial phase.

However, F1 2011 excels in allowing fair (or tipped in your favour slightly) wheel-to-wheel racing against the AI and a dan-dare move into the first corner sees most of the lazy getaway undone. By turn four I’m into the points. By the end of the lap, I put some pressure on Kobayashi and get into a happy 9th.

Valencia would then turn into a great battle with Petrov with his superior straight-line speed and DRS giving me grief on the straights and my higher downforce and better braking undoing all his hard work. That is, until lap 10 of 11.

I had spent a couple of laps on Fuel Mix 2 and so had turned it back up to 3. This has proved to be enough in the other races so far and I therefore greeted the flashing fuel icon with unconcealed surprise and not a little panic. So much panic that as I reacted to turn the fuel mix down to 1, I made a complete hash of the next corner, bumped into the wall with my front wing, damaging it, and Petrov snuck by into a 9th I couldn’t recover.

However, 10th is still a great result for me in the HRT and I’m in the points for the second time this season. Next up is one of my bogey tracks: Home, Silverstone.