Hype Energy F1 Leagues – Xbox One F1 – Round 1 Melbourne
October 4, 2018
The highly awaited debut of AOR’s Hype Energy F1 Leagues provided a great deal of action over on the Xbox One F1 tier where veteran drivers along with newcomers both contributed to an eventful opening Grand Prix. Once again, it’s Circuit Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia, which hosted Round 1 of the season but this time around it was on the latest iteration of the F1 games: F1 2018.
Season 16 has brought a decent amount of change to what we are used to seeing in Apex Online Racing F1 leagues as the game now features the user-controlled ERS (Energy Recovery System) and an additional 6 minutes of qualifying time as opposed to the 12-minute sessions from last seasons. We are yet to see how much of a role ERS will play over the course of a race but we already know that it has increased the skill ceiling potential for the drivers as they now have one more tool to play with and manage, useful for both overtaking and defending but more strategic sensitive than that, concretely.
It is worth mentioning as well that multiple elite familiar names have not signed up for AOR Season 16, such as Salih “FlyingFinn” Saltunç, James “Limitless” Doherty & TRL Martin, only to name a few, resulting in a significantly revamped top tier grid over on the Xbox One platform. That being said, we fully expect a massively competitive season with the likes of Cedric “Evo” Thomé, Joshua “Surprize” Idowu and Jason97F1 all coming back for full-on racing.
Track: Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia
Tyres: Ultrasofts, Supersofts, Softs
The 19 drivers taking part in the Australian Grand Prix were treated with a nice & dry qualifying session. Only eight drivers posted a lap time during the first eight minutes of the session, highlighted by a retirement from Sauber’s Hamilton. Simon Weigang in his Red Bull set the first reference time, taking provisional pole with a 1:19.690. Eventually, the whole field began to take to the track for the mid-session runs and Ferrari’s Evo took the top spot with a 1:19.351 but he was quickly replaced there by Surprize in the Mercedes with a 1:19.272. Evo’s teammate Leopard improved as well, registering a 1:19.315 for provisional P2 only to be pushed back by Toro Rosso’s Nersu “Powerful” Thibaut time of 1:19.281. The stage was then set for the final minutes of the session and the shootout for pole.
Cryo Lockdown in the second Red Bull crashed in Turn Two. Unable to set a time, he would start at the back of the grid. Taylor Reynolds, Surprize’s teammate at Mercedes, misjudged his track placement for his flying lap and found slow traffic towards the end of it, colliding with a Haas in Turn 13, damaging his front wing, and also sending him to the bottom of the leaderboard as he too was unable to set a time.
The two favourites for the Drivers’ Championship, Evo and Surprize, both made their final run count to secure front row with stunning efforts of 1:19.046 & 1:19.060, respectively. Leopard placed third for Ferrari with a 1:19.192 lap with Powerful to be gridded beside him, less than a tenth of a second away. On row number three; Simon with a 1:19.396 and Haas driver Jason97F1 with a 1:19.531. Force India’s OMG Its Jo and Renault’s Feisty Ted grabbed P7 and P8. Behind them, completing the top 10, Pinecone in Jason97F1’s sister car and Lewis “Z3lchy” Zelch in the other Renault.
The ten drivers within the top 10 were obliged to remain on their qualifying-worn sets of Ultrasoft tyres, the softest compound available for the Australian Grand Prix, but every single driver outside the top 10 opted for a different strategy : six of them on the Softs, the other four on the Supersofts.
With the formation lap completed, the five red lights went off, setting the grid free on a beautiful afternoon session in Melbourne where rain would never be a threat. The top four remained intact through the first lap but behind them there was some chaos as Feisty Ted, Z3lchy and Laurent “ZLCX4” Collymore’s Sauber collided entering Turn Three, sending them off the track and to the bottom of the leaderboard as they were fighting wheel-to-wheel for 9th position. The field was seriously tight together through the first few laps, less than a second between every driver from P6 to P14 with Hamilton notably having made his way up in the points to P10 already.
The pit window opened particularly early, on Lap Five, when Powerful entered the pit lane to get rid of his Ultrasofts in favor of fresh yellow-marked Softs, the hardest compound available for the race. He would rejoin dead last in P18 (ZLCX4 had retired already). It turned out to be a good decision for Powerful when, a later, the quartet of Leopard, Simon, Jo and Pinecone followed suit only to rejoin behind Powerful, who had effectively undercut Leopard for third position with that strategy.
Meanwhile, race leader Evo and rival Surprize were already starting to pull away. The latter, perhaps concerned about being undercut himself and losing track position, came in for his stop on Lap Seven, also putting on a new set of Soft tyres. He came out two seconds ahead of Powerful’s Toro Rosso. In turn, Evo brought himself in the very next lap to avoid conceding the net race lead to his rival, whom he came out less than a second ahead. He was the last driver on the purple-walled Ultras to pit, leaving none other than surging Sauber’s Hamilton in the lead.
While the leaders were taking turns in the pits following their regular strategy, the midfield stayed tightly knit providing relentless action up until Lap Seven when Jason97F1 & Hamilton collided in Turn One, the former barely saving his Haas from spinning around but at the expense of OMG its Jo who was unable to avoid him, picking up front wing damage in the process. The Williams of Brown dodged the carnage by the smallest of margins but had to resort to run on the grass to do so. Jason would pit from P9 on that same lap to fit on a fresh set of the yellow Softs to take him to the checkered flag, rejoining way back in P16.
On Lap 10, Powerful shockingly lost control of his Toro Rosso in Turn Two, instantly retiring from the race. A disappointing result for Thibaut as he was set for a top five finish at the time. Ferrari’s ace Evo eventually caught up to race leader Reynolds (Surprize’s Mercedes teammate) who had yet to pit and overtook him with relative ease through Turns Three & Four, creating a two-car buffer between him and Surprize. However, that situation would not hold for long as Surprize made quick work of the McLaren of MVPZero33 for P3 and then Reynolds gave the position without a fight on the main straight, letting his teammate through. With the traffic issues resolved and clean air in front of them, Evo & Surprize both went on to the checkered flag unthreatened and within two seconds of each other without ever really battling for the lead. Evo took the win in Season 16’s opener, solidifying his status as the favourite in this tier. His rival Surprize ended up further behind in time than his on-track finish suggested, picking up a total of nine seconds worth of time penalties for track extensions, as opposed to Evo’s clean sheet. Nevertheless, it wasn’t enough to bump him out of a very strong second place.
Completing the podium was Red Bull’s driver Simon, actually finishing fourth on track but benefiting from the one too many penalty of Ferrari’s Leopard. Both drivers followed a similar path in traffic to the top two finishers, albeit delayed by a few laps, and never really in danger of losing position. All in all, a promising debut for both, establishing themselves as serious contenders for the championship. Taking the last double-digit points finish : F1 veteran Jason97F1 in the Haas. He did not have as clear a path as his opponents ahead did but he kept a cool head amidst the battles he was in, only making the one mistake early on Lap Seven in the fight with Hamilton, costing him at worse several seconds. The remainder of his race was well judged, never taking too much life out of his tyres and profiting from the other midfielders’ costly errors.
OMG its Jo had an eventful race in his Force India, to say the least. Nevertheless, he was able to cling on to P6 despite taking front wing damage twice; the first time in the collision with Jason97F1 on Lap Seven, the second late in the race with less than two laps to go when MVPZero33, who was charging through the field on Ultrasofts, collided with him on the second DRS straight. Luckily for Jo, he could go on but the same could not be said of Zero who had put on a strong performance on the alternate strategy starting on the yellow Softs, ending up in a DNF with a shattered front right suspension after the crash. Vulnerable from the damage, Jo was then overtaken by Reynolds and Jason but he remained ahead of the former in the classification due to time penalties (a total of four for Reynolds!). For Surprize’s teammate, Reynolds, it was still a positive result considering he had started last in P19 after his qualification had gone wrong.
Williams’ driver Brown was one of the few drivers to avoid any time penalty for cutting corners/track extending, taking home P8 and four points. He had a few highlights, including an overtake on Jason97F1 on Lap 12 for P10 but had a moment a few laps later in Sector Three sending him back to P13. For Renault, Z3lchy quietly made his way to ninth position from tenth on the grid, completing the one-stop admirably. Behind him, Red Bull’s Cryo Lockdown surely was left in disappointment and a feeling of “what could’ve been” with a tenth place finish; on Lap Nine, he lost control of his car at the exit of Turn 13 in a battle for third position with MVPZero33 and demolished his front wing, forcing him to pit for a new one on that same lap, compromising his strategy.
Elsewhere, Christopher “Pinecone” Parry, Haas’ teammate of Jason97F1, retired on Lap 12 with firmware issues with his wheel, rendering him helpless with the car crashing as a result. Another notable DNF was the one of Sauber driver Hamilton, crashing in Turns 11/12 from P6 late in the race on Lap 23. One would assume that he will not be pleased with himself after he had driven brilliantly from the back of the grid, setting himself up for a decent points finish, even leading the race at one point.
The Championship will now be moving to the deserts of Bahrain for a night race in Round 2 of Season 16’s Hype Energy F1 Leagues. Make sure to tune in!
Checkout the AOR Hype Energy F1 League highlights below: