Hype Energy F1 Leagues – PS4 F1 – Round 1 Melbourne
October 5, 2018
Apex Online Racing’s Hype Energy F1 Leagues on PS4 kicked off in terrific fashion with an action filled race at the Street Circuit of Albert Park; host of the Australian Grand Prix & Round 1 of Season 16. The forecast for both qualifying and race sessions : nothing but sunshine, therefore, nothing but dry tyres. It meant that the drivers came out of the gates holding absolutely nothing back for the top tier’s opening bout.
Track: Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia
Tyres: Ultrasofts, Supersofts, Softs
The first AOR league race for the drivers on F1 2018 which brought interesting additional features for the drivers to acclimate to such as ERS (Energy Recovery System) and varying core-temperatures in the tyres. The user-controlled ERS promises to play a significant role in the races as it allows the drivers to activate a massive power boost, useful for overtaking or even defending, but also requires careful management over the course of a race to avoid leaving oneself vulnerable. As for the new tyre model, it necessitates more monitoring from the drivers in comparison to previous iterations of the game. Overheating the tyres now has more impact then it used to in the F1 games series.
With a lengthier 18-minute session, new for Season 16, the drivers have more time to hook their best lap together around Melbourne’s track where the sheer speed that the cars carry make it difficult for the contestants to both push the limits and avoid invalidating their flying laps. As usual, track evolution’s added grip over the course of the session means that the drivers will be focusing on the final minutes to go out one final time and produce their best effort.
It’s Michael Romanidis in his McLaren who set the tone early on with a 1:19.584 along with Cardoso “Alonso44” Wilfried following suit with a time just 27 hundredths of a second slower for Sauber. These times were quickly swept aside a few minutes later when the mid-session runners started posting lap times with Haas driver Lucas “EP1CxG4M3Rx1571” Blakeley taking provisional pole by 0.061 seconds. The record would only hold shortly as Romanidis improved on his previous effort with a 1:19.265, then Dominik “NTG2011Freak” Hofmann taking second position less than a tenth behind in his Mercedes.
The shootout for pole would not yield the expected results for the top runners as laps were being invalidated left, right and center. However, one driver was able to string a pole-worthy lap together; McLaren’s Floris Wijers with a masterful 1:19.129, securing the front-row lockout for McLaren in the process alongside teammate Romanidis. Hofmann would remain in third place despite crashing out of Turn Twelve on his final run, accompanied by DeagleKiller in fourth. Solid early in the session, both Alonso44 and Blakely ended up on third row with times of 1:19.516 and 1:19.523 respectively. On row 7; defending champion & Williams’ driver Alex Hanses flanked by Renault’s alberto_222. Completing the top 10 were Flying_F1NN for Toro Rosso with a 1:19.712 and Jarno Opmeer for Force India with a 1:19.794, the latter retiring out of the session halfway through. Ollie Davies found himself just outside the top 10 in P11, first driver in the order to benefit from free tyre choice.
The ten drivers who couldn’t make it in the top 10 and therefore earning themselves a free choice of tyres, as opposed to being forced to remain on a set of qualifying-worn tyres, all chose to go with either the yellow Softs or the red Supersofts, allowing them to stretch out their initial stint. There was trouble early off the line as the five red lights went out when a trio of top-half runners fell all the way down the order to the back; Haas’ Blakeley, Sauber’s Alonso44 and Renault’s Opmeer. At the front, battling Hoffman for P3, DeagleKiller locked up in Turn Three’s braking zone, leaving the top four intact. Free of defending, the Mercedes ace Hofmann would go on attack and split the McLaren’s in two by overtaking Michael Romanidis in Turn 14. By the end of Lap Three, the seven first places had less than a second separating each of them, all of them Ultrasofts-shod : Wijers, Hofmann, Romanidis, DeagleKiller, Hanses, alberto_222 and Flying_F1NN.
The battle for the lead claimed a victim on Lap Five. The top four got close together on track as a consequence of Hofmann & Wijers’ wheel-to-wheel racing and DeagleKiller lost control of his Red Bull exiting Turn 13, the car too damaged to go on. Only a lap later could Mercedes’ Hofmann take over the lead when he passed the McLaren of Wijers entering Turn 11. The move lost some significance when Wijers came into the pits a few corners later, effectively initiating the leaders’ pit phase with alberto_222, Flying_F1nn and Wilfried following suit. The four drivers fitted the yellow-walled Softs and rejoined in P12, P14, P15 & P17, respectively, Wijers managing to put the yet-to-pit Haas of DaniMG between him and his rivals.
Both Hofmann and Romanidis responded on the following lap with a pit stop of their own on a similar strategy, taking fresh sets of Soft tyres. At pit lane’s exit, Hofmann found Wijers’s McLaren beside him and both went wheel-to-wheel into Turns Three & Four but it’s Wijers who came out ahead, muscling his way through. Williams’ Hanses was the last of the Ultrasofts runners to pit, on Lap Eight and from the lead, also choosing the Softs to take him to the end of the race and rejoining in 10th position, right behind the Mercedes of Dominik Hofmann. That left Softs-shod drivers’ Ollie Davies (Hofmann’s teammate), Force India’s Cas_0807 and Ferrari’s Curlywurly7 forming the top three.
The net leaders of Wijers & Hofmann never really ran into much traffic from the drivers yet to pit ahead and reclaimed the top of the leaderboard on Lap 18 when the drivers yet-to-pit ahead finally did so. Game on. There were four drivers closely matched but it was Hofmann, in his Mercedes, who seemed to be in control. He had been following Wijers’ McLaren for several laps now, nursing his tyres, staying within DRS range and limiting his ERS use brilliantly, whereas his rival ahead had been forced to drive more aggressively to defend the position. The McLaren sister-car in P3, Michael Romanidis, kept pushing, never too far behind. Similarly, Alex Hanses in his Williams remained patient but close to his opponents ahead nevertheless, ready to pounce in the event of a mistake.
It’s on Lap 21 that Hofmann decided he had enough, claiming the lead from Wijers in Turn One with the help of DRS. There was no answer from the McLaren driver who had been driving his car aggressively in anticipation of a move, seemingly cooking his tyres sooner than he would have preferred. Four laps later, his teammate Romanidis overtook him for second place in Turn Three, but he would never catch Hofmann who had already created a 2.5 seconds gap between them.
On the different strategy, having started eleventh, Hofmann’s teammate Ollie Davies was running a flawless race on the Soft compound tyres, the hardest available for the race, allowing him and the ones on a similar strategy to stretch out a much longer first stint. Cas_0807 and Curlywurly7 remained in a battle of their own behind Davies, unable to close in on him, to eventually enter pit lane on the 16th lap from P2 and P3 respectively at that time. They both chose the red-marked Supersofts for their final stint and rejoined in P10 and P11 in the same order as they had come in. In a measured move to avoid the undercut and to retain track position, Davies pitted on the next lap from the lead for a set of Supersofts. When he came out, he was still two seconds ahead of Cas_0807, free to charge back up towards the leaders on softer and fresher tyres.
At the end of the day, however, a different player held a major role in the shaping of the classification: time penalties. On track, it was Dominik Hofmann who took the checkered flag first, just over three seconds ahead of McLaren teammates Michael Romanidis and Floris Wijers, but these three would actually place P4, P1 & P5 respectively. Hofmann had taken 9 seconds worth of time penalties, sending him all the way back to fourth! Romanidis took the Season 16 inaugural win thanks to a penalty-free race. Alex Hanses quietly but effectively stepped on the second step of the podium also with a penalty-free race of his own for Williams. Ollie Davies managed to secure third position from eleventh on the grid, avoiding penalties as well. Wijers, after taking pole and leading the first stint of the race couldn’t keep the pace, picking up 9 seconds of added time due to extending the track limits.
The biggest benefactor from the time penalties was certainly reserve driver clarky_110 who jumped from 10th on track to sixth in the official classification. A good performance as he started 15th on Softs and completed a one-stop, pitting on Lap 14. In P7, taking home six points was Flying_F1NN for Toro Rosso also with 9 seconds added to this total time, a good result for the young finn nonetheless. Behind him, the Ferrari of Curlywurly7 who came all the way from 18th on the grid to claim eigth place and the four points that come with it. Likewise, Nardy took ninth for Williams from far back after completing the one-stop and racing alongside Renault’s Nervo who’s race ended late in the race on Lap 21. Nervo’s teammate alberto_222 salvaged the final point awarded to 10th position after recovering from his first lap incident.
Retirement on Lap 26 for Lucas Blakeley in the Haas car. Blakeley was in a five-way fight a couple laps prior, defending his seventh position from the late pitters charging on Supersofts. Cas_0807 could not hang on to a points finish for Force India, falling victim to his own penalties ultimately.
A promising start of Season 16 in the Hype Energy F1 Leagues PS4 top split. Plenty of on track action with varying strategies adding to the spectacle. Many drivers will be kicking themselves for picking up multiple time penalties, robbing them of precious points. On the upside, the next stop at Bahrain typically does not produce that many faults. Stay tuned for more action and developments!
Checkout the Official AOR Hype Energy F1 PS4 League Highlights here: