Hype Energy F1 Leagues – Xbox One F1 – Round 2 Bahrain

The Apex Online Racing Hype Energy F1 League Xbox One Tier 1 championship moved to Bahrain last Sunday for Season 16’s second round with the promise of a thriller under the night sky of the deserts of Sakhir. 20 drivers took the grid, but only 15 took the checkered flag, seeing both Ferrari & Mercedes’ aces, Cedric “Evo” Thomé & Josh “Surprize” Idowu, poised for a season long battle at the top of the standings.

Moving over from the tight Australian track from last week’s opening race to the large & wide Bahrain International Circuit, where track position’s importance is lessened, especially in qualifying, by the more abundant overtaking opportunities. Although a severely harsh track for tyres, the one-stop remains the ideal strategy for the Bahrain Grand Prix. However, it is not a simple task to achieve if starting on the red-walled Supersofts, forcing the drivers to gamble on strategy in qualifying in hopes of earning a superior tyre choice for the 29-lap race.

Track: Bahrain Internation Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain
Laps: 29
Tyres: Supersofts, Softs, Mediums

Bahrain International Circuit

Qualifying

Haas driver Christopher “Pinecone” Parry was forbidden from qualifying as a consequence for impeding another driver’s lap in the Australian Grand Prix, leaving him at the back of the grid for the race but with free tyre choice to take as a positive. Red Bull’s Cryo Lockdown did not take part in the session as he was seemingly experiencing connection issues, unfortunately.

Only a few drivers completed laps during the opening minutes of the session but none of them were especially competitive. Already, we were seeing the strategy direction the field was taking concerning tyre selection versus a potentially better grid position. Laurent “ZLCX4” Collymore for Sauber took provisional pole on the Supersofts with a 1:26.571 which he would not be able to improve on after that. In his Season 16 debut race, Jonas “Allrounder” Ruetten seemed eager to take to the track in his Toro Rosso and was the only other competitor to set a sub 1:27 time in the early stages of qualifying. It took nearly another 15 minutes for times to start tumbling officially as virtually everyone was waiting for the last few minutes to go out and post their best effort for just one flying lap on the Softs. The explanation for that lack of activity is fairly simple: most of these drivers were not interested in the Supersofts at all and only one set of yellow Softs was available for each of them, meaning that they couldn’t be burning tyres at will with multiple attempts because there were simply none to spare.

Melbourne’s winner Evo secured pole position with a brilliant 1:26.208 on the Softs, nearly two tenths up on closest opponent Feisty Ted for Renault (1:26.400). Second row was Force India’s affair as OMG its Jo (1:26.459) and teammate langman17 (1:26.481) both did well. Leopard clinched the last top 5 spot for Ferrari with a 1:26.504 to be flanked by Sauber’s Hamilton (1:26.533). His teammate ZLCX4 grabbed seventh position (1:26.571) as the sole driver to qualify on the Supersofts with P1R Brown for Williams alongside him registering a 1:26.573. Finally, Red Bull’s Nersu “Powerful” Thibaut (1:26.698) and McLaren’s MVPZero33 (1:26.705) completed the top 10.

Both Mercedes failed to make it into the top 10 with Surprize notably missing his sole qualifying attempt on the Softs very late in the session. Haas driver Jason97F1’s best effort yielded no better than P12. Overall, every driver focused on the yellow Softs for their session, the one exception being Williams’ Matt “Matt212” Beard whose lap on the Supersofts left him in P14. Simon Weigang was left with an awry taste when he was disconnected from the lobby late in the session, neutralizing his chances of another favourable grid position.

Race

The tyre selections from qualifying and their consequential results provided an interesting spread across the grid as far as choice of compound was concerned for the race. In the top 10 : nine drivers on the Softs, one driver on the Supersofts (Sauber’s ZLCX4 in P7). A stark contrast to both PS4 and PC F1 tiers, who both had a majority of Supersofts runners. Outside the top 10 : seven on the Softs, three on the Mediums (Jason97F1, Allrounder & Taylor Reynolds, 12th to 14th positions respectively).

The whole field managed to go through the first corners unscathed, free of any major incident which is no small feat at Bahrain where Turns One & Two act as a treacherous bottleneck at race start. It wasn’t perfect, however, as McLaren’s Team Vodka Shot spun out exiting Turn Four, seemingly via contact on his rear end, leading him into an unscheduled pit stop along with Allrounder who also ran into troubles, both changing front wings and rejoining on new sets of Medium tyres. Evo retained the race lead thanks to a splendid launch at the off. Behind him after a lap : Renault’s Feisty Ted, the Force Indias of langman17 & OMG its Jo, and the Sauber of Hamilton. From P18 initially, Surprize entered Lap Two in P11, seven places up already and with an obvious desire to make up for his poor qualifying in a hurry.

Hamilton took over the pink teammates early on Lap Two by the time they got to Turn Eight, earning him third position on the leaderboard up from fifth. Things went from bad to worse for Surprize’s teammate Taylor Reynolds when he entered pit lane on that same lap for a new front wing but could not make the required speed limit in time and was awarded a 5-seconds Stop & Go penalty. As for Surprize, he kept on pushing and making his way through the field, up in eighth place by Lap Three. Starting from the back had been far from ideal for Mercedes’ top man, but had offered him the opportunity to show just how talented and rapid he is. He gained another position on Lap Five by muscling his way past the Ferrari of Leopard through Turns One & Two and by picking off Jo’s Force India later on Lap Eight in Turn One as well, cracking in the top five in the process as ZLCX4 had pitted earlier from P6. Whereas, at the front, Evo was increasing his lead steadily, 4.2s clear of 2nd place Feisty Ted.

The Renault driver began losing pace as the field closed in on the double-digit lap count and on Lap 10, Feisty Ted had effectively dropped back to lead a 6-car train from P2 to P7 with the likes of Hamilton, Langman17, Surprize, OMG its Jo & Powerful all well within a second of each other. Feisty Ted decided to pit that time around, with langman17 & Powerful imitating him. As expected, they all installed fresh sets of Medium tyres which would normally take them to the end of the race. The remaining trio of that 6-way scrap went into the pits the following lap on an identical tyre strategy. That in-lap free from Feisty Ted’s dirty air had freed up Hamilton & Surprize, both overcutting the Renault in the pit phase for the net second and third places behind Evo. Just like that, Mercedes’ Surprize had gone from virtually last to a podium position. Evo, well clear of any undercut threat, chose Lap 12 to complete his pit strategy, swapping old yellow Softs for brand new white Mediums. He rejoined in P2 with his net lead intact, eight seconds away from the yet-to-pit Haas of Jason97F1 but more importantly, eight seconds clear or the battling duo of Hamilton and Surprize.

Another multiple-car fight, that one for P9, including Brown, Pinecone, Jason97F1 and Renault’s Z3lchy had been raging for a while too but these protagonists had been cautious not to commit themselves too heavily to avoid losing unnecessary time and certainly to preserve tyres. Z3lchy flinched and lost the rear of his Renault exiting Turn Eight on Lap 11, taking him out of contention of a points finish. Brown then entered pit lane only for Pinecone to do the same, both swapping Softs for Mediums, rejoining amongst the previously pitted cars of MVPZero33 and Leopard to resume their battle with. Jason97F1, one of the lead characters in that race-long clash, surrendered the lead of the race, that he had been awarded after everyone else had pitted to swap their less durable tyres, on the 17th lap. The now Soft-shod Haas exited pit road in 12th place but equipped with the softest and freshest tyres, Jason97F1 was ready to tackle his contenders ahead.

For Cedric “Evo” Thomé, life post-pit phase had not brought any more threat than it had pre-pit phase. In a well measured & calculated drive that he later described as “easier than he would’ve thought”, the Ferrari ace collected his second win in as many outings this Season for the optimal total of 50 points in the standings. Evo’s championship rival Josh “Surprize” Idowu managed to secure his second consecutive 18-points finish with an outstanding recovery drive after flunking his qualifying strategy. The Mercedes charger overtook Hamilton on the 13th lap in Turn One with the help of DRS to eventually claim P2. Hamilton did not let go that easily though, he hung on to Surprize for several laps and kept him honest but he had to fend off the attacks of a storming Feisty Ted on Lap 17, allowing the Mercedes to open up a gap which he could never close back. Still, an impressive drive for Hamilton from P6 on the grid to P3, which he kept despite an added three seconds to his total time due to a track extending penalty.

MVPZero33 brought home 12 points for himself and McLaren with fourth place even though he finished seventh on track, thanks to the time penalties of Powerful, OMG its Jo and Jason97F1. These three had a dramatic ending to the Grand Prix; veteran driver Jaso97F1 picked up an heart-breaking penalty when he cut he very last corner of the race, denying him fifth place. Nevertheless, it was another impressive drive from Jason97F1 highlighted by a well executed alternate strategy and a handful of tasty overtakes in his second stint. Toro Rosso’s Powerful will be satisfied with fifth place after starting from ninth. Seemingly always in a fight, he managed his ERS deployment and pace smartly to make his way up the order.

The evening started well for Force India with a second row lock out but from there it was downhill for OMG its Jo and langman17 as they both fell victims of the likes of Hamilton and Powerful. P6 for Jo, improving on his P7 result from last week. P11 for langman17 and another week outside the points. There is little doubt that this one will have hurt, considering the promise of qualifying.

P8 and P9 went to Haas’ Pinecone and Williams’ Brown, respectively. These two had a terrific race, constantly pushing, on the edge and in traffic for position throughout the race. Pinecone notably made it hard for Jason97F1 to get through him late in the race even though Jason97F1 had a significant tyre advantage. It was a particularly curious defense as it allowed Brown to close back to him and apply some more pressure. Nevertheless, Pinecone was not fussed and even muscled past the Ferrari of Leopard in Turn Four on the last lap, a move that unsettled the Ferrari, sending it facing the wrong way in the runoff area.

Rounding up the top 10 : Feisty Ted. A brilliant qualifying for the Renault driver who hung on to grab the final point in the end. The pace in the race was just not there for Feisty Ted. Perhaps an inadequate setup or simply troubles keeping the tyres within temperature, therefore wearing them out prematurely, may have been the cause of the landslide from second on the grid.

China will be the host of Season 16’s Round 3 of Hype Energy F1 Leagues. Definitely a race to tune-in for, the Chinese Grand Prix is typically full of surprises. Will we see a new winner crowned? Watch this space and find out!

Written by Kevin “saKuuu” Turner – @tR_saKuuu


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