Hype Energy F1 Leagues – PS4 F1 – Round 5 Spain

The Apex Online Racing Hype Energy F1 Leagues transported themselves to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for round 5 of season 16 in a return to a classic track. We are being treated with a tight championship fight in PS4’s F1 tier, still looking for a multiple race winner after four events. Would the Spanish Grand Prix prove any different?

Spain is not known for providing plenty of overtaking due to its technical nature which doesn’t allow the cars to follow each other comfortably without suffering from the dirty air and overheating tyres. The best passing opportunities will present themselves with the help of DRS on the straights that lead to Turn One & Turn 10 but better not turn a blind eye to the Repsol corner where the bravest might send it down the inside or even attack around the outside, opening up the inside for the following corner.

Track: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
Laps: 33
Tyres: Supersofts, Softs, Mediums

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

Qualifying

As one could deduce from the circuit’s summary above, track position is key in Barcelona and therefore a one-stop becomes superior to a two-stop, in the dry that is. For the third consecutive race, the forecast predicted rain towards the latter part of the Grand Prix which in turn certainly affected the qualifying strategies and the setups to be used but as we’ve come to expect, the vast majority of the field chose to focus on a late session run using the one set of yellow-marked Soft tyres at their disposition.

The Azerbaijan pole sitter Flying_F1NN decided to take the alternate route and ran three separate stints with the red Supersoft tyres. That decision seemed to backfire as F1NN could not improve in any of his last two runs after his initial one had yielded a 1:16.462 and provisional pole for the better part of the session. Ferrari’s curlywurly7 was the first driver to get serious with the Soft tyres; with still plenty of time to kill he went out for two consecutive fliers resulting in a personal best of 1:16.793, a time which would eventually leave him in P13 in what turned out to be a remarkably tight qualifying, less than 0.4 seconds separating P1 to P13.

Lucas “EpicGamer” Blakeley claimed his second pole position of the season in his Haas with a 1:16.424 effort, ahead of Toro Rosso’s Flying_F1NN Supersoft lap. Championship leader Michael, for McLaren, completed the top three by posting a 1:16.476, just ahead of Mercedes’ Dominik “NTG2011Freak” Hoffman (1:16.507). Ferrari’s alex94 qualified on the third row with a time of 1:16.510 to be flanked by the orange McLaren of Floris Wijers (1:16.596). Nervo never got to set a decent lap on the Softs with his Renault as he was hampered by Blakeley’s slowed down car, resulting in P7 with a 1:16.608 on the Supersofts. Williams driver Alex Hanses grabbed the remaining fourth row slot with a 1:16.677. Lining up on the final top 10 row would be Red Bull’s Tim_Palm (1:16.694) and the second Williams of Bernardo “Nardy” Perez (1:16.708). Force India’s Jarno Opmeer and Mercedes’ Ollie Davies missed the top 10 by 0.003s and 0.024s, respectively, while last week’s victor DeagleKiller surprisingly slotted all the way down in 16th place.

Race

Three drivers were not in attendance for the Spanish Grand Prix; Toro Rosso’s BigC_019 and both the Saubers of Alonso44 and Jthorn97, missing out on a chance to tame the Circuit de Catalunya under the sunny skies of Barcelona. The whole grid got off to a clean start as Blakeley held on to the lead coming into Turn One, Flying_F1NN following prudently, unable to profit from his Supersofts grip advantage. Meanwhile, Hoffman pressured Michael into a wheel-to-wheel scrap as both drivers roared in the long right-hander that is Turn Three, costing the McLaren a position dropping to fourth. alex94 got his elbows out against Jarno in the slow third sector, pushing the Force India wide in the gravel out of Turn 12 which sent Jarno in an unfortunate series of corner cutting penalties, effectively taking him out of contention. Nardy was forced into an unscheduled pit stop to replace his damaged front-wing on that opening lap, also severely compromising his chances of a points finish.

DeagleKiller wasted no time charging from the back of the field. By Lap Two, the Mediums-shod Red Bull was already up to P11 with the intent of running a long stint to off-set the qualifying’s mishap which saw him start so far back. Grip soon began to fade off for Flying_F1NN on his fragile set of Supersofts and come Lap Five, both Hoffman and Michael pounced on the vulnerable Toro Rosso to gain a position each with Floris quickly catching up as well but the Toro Rosso dived into the pits before a move could be concluded. Michael took his position back from Freak on the ninth lap into Turn One in a DRS-assisted overtake. Behind them, a huge train had formed starting from Red Bull’s Tim_Palm in P6 all the way down to the Renault of Alberto Foltran in P14 in which DeagleKiller starred, overtaking alex94 for P7 then flying by his team-mate on the main straight (without much trouble, it must be said) on the next lap for P6.

The eleventh lap was the cue for the Soft runners’ opening of the pit window as we saw the leading trio of EpicGamer, NTG2011Freak and Michael all come in for their pit stop and a switch to the harder white-walled Mediums. Floris Wijers and Alex Hanses followed suit in successive laps, leaving the five drivers who had started on the Mediums at the top of the leaderboard; DeagleKiller, Jarno Opmeer, Ollie Davies, Cas_0807 and Alberto Foltran. Already, DeagleKiller was enjoying a 3.5s lead over his closest rival Jarno in P2, demonstrating just how sensational his race had been up to that point. The Red Bull cruised as the race leader up until Lap 20 when it finally pitted for a new set of softer tyres, rejoining the track in seventh place and in a good position to go all out in a stint in which it would be enjoying a massive tyre advantage over every single one of its opponents in front.

In the mean time, the net lead of the race had remained within Lucas Blakeley’s clutches relatively comfortably, pulling away from his nearest rivals and not wasting any time in overtaking the yet-to-pit cars ahead. The Haas driver finally claimed P1 back by overtaking Ollie on Lap 21 who turned out to be on an in-lap anyway. Michael had to deal with the Toro Rosso of Flying_F1NN on an alternate strategy and made a fairly easy move past it in Turn One of the 15th lap but an error in Turn Five cost Michael three positions with F1NN, Hoffman and Floris all jumping on the opportunity to pick off the out-of-shape McLaren. The fall down the order then persisted for the championship leader, visibly struggling to get decent long-run pace out of his setup and tyres.

There were no such issues for Mercedes driver Dominik Hoffman who kept on posting consistent lap times to eventually catch up to race leader Blakeley, whom he overtook coming into T1 on the 28th lap to grab P1 after having cut down a deficit of four seconds. Unfortunately for Hoffman, the celebrations were short; even though he took the checkered flag first on track, nine seconds worth of time penalties sent him down to fifth position in the final classification. As predicted, rain eventually started falling down on the 31st lap but it was very light and had little to no consequence on the race. Lucas Blakeley became the fifth different winner of the season in as many Grands Prix, a second consecutive podium for the electrifying Haas driver.

DeagleKiller massively impressed as he stormed through the field on his second stint, claiming Tim_Palm, Michael and Alex as his victims before he turned the aggression down to make sure he could maintain a respectable pace on his Softs until the end. Ultimately, he was rewarded with a second place even though he finished fourth on track, thanks to Floris & Freak’s penalties. A great follow-up to last week’s victory for the Red Bull driver. For McLaren’s Floris Wijers, a deserved P3 surely represented a huge relief in what has been a tough season through the first four rounds. Once he got past his team-mate Michael and discarded Flying_F1NN, Floris put his head down and kept it clean except for that one penalty he was awarded which cost him three points. Alex Hanses came home in P4 to follow-up Baku’s podium in a typical quiet fashion from the Williams driver, albeit well measured. It’s wild to think that we have seen five different winners in season 16 with Alex not being one of them, considering the immense potential he has.

Tim_Palm came through once more for Red Bull, picking up a second decent points finish in a row with P6. He had to yield to his quicker team-mate twice during the race but he remained in the thick of the action thanks to his strong pace in Catalunya. Behind him in seventh place, Michael Romanidis will undoubtedly be disappointed with another finish outside the top 5 after having claimed three consecutive podiums in the opening races. Nevertheless, the McLaren ace remains atop of the standings in the drivers’ championship with that 6 points haul. At Mercedes, Ollie Davies struggled to get going in another Grand Prix, matching his lowest finish of the season from last week’s event in P8 but the silver arrows are still the reference among the constructors, five races in. Despite starting from fifth on the grid, alex94 could barely hold on to a points finish and crossed the line in P9, doubling his tally in the drivers’ standings. Haas’ DaniiMG finally put himself on the board with a 10th place finish and an additional point for him and team-mate Blakeley in the teams standings.

With Monaco on deck for next week’s Grand Prix, we should be treated with another exciting race and perhaps even a sixth different victor in what has been so far a tremendously competitive tier. Stay tuned!

Written by Kevin “saKuuu” Turner – @tR_saKuuu


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