Hype Energy F1 Leagues – Xbox One F1 – Round 3 China
October 23, 2018
The end results took an unexpected turn in Apex Online Racing Hype Energy F1 Leagues’ Xbox One Tier 1 Chinese Grand Prix. Dry weather & strategy choice worked hand-in-hand to deliver an extraordinarily dramatic race in Shanghai, where a new victor in Season 16 was crowned.
There was a total of five no-shows for Round 3 as both Toro Rossos (Jonas “Allrounder” Ruetten & Nersu “Powerful” Thibaut), both Saubers (Laurent “ZLCX4” Collymore & Hamilton) along with Red Bull’s Cryo Lockdown could not attend. That gave reserve driver Clonetroop his chance to get a seat and drive for the first time this season, he chose Sauber.
The Shanghai International Circuit is one of the toughest challenge of the calendar. Drivers have to be on top of their game to hope for a good finish, especially in such a competitive tier as AOR Xbox One F1. It’s not necessarily about avoiding mistakes, because mistakes will be made, it’s about minimizing the effect they have on the driver in relation to its opponents. It’s a track that is notably harsh on the tyres, making it critical to balance the aggression towards saving them for better consistency over long stints. Additionally, there are virtually only two viable compounds to choose from if one wants to execute a one stop strategy in the race. The Ultrasoft is by and large superior to both the Soft and Medium compounds on one lap pace but wears out extremely fast and if used in qualifying, it will not last much more than five laps in the race.
Track: Shanghai Internation Circuit, Shanghai, China
Tyres: Ultrasofts, Softs, Mediums
It was understood quite early in the session that no one was gonna go out and burn their one set of Soft tyres until very late in the session when the game’s track evolution would bring grip at its peak. Nevertheless, Matt “Matt212” Beard decided to give the purple-marked Ultras a shot, trading a sizable tyre wear disadvantage for a favourable track position, which no one else dared imitate. Matt quickly took provisional pole in his first run with a 1:31.460 lap, a largely noncompetitive time considering the calibre of drivers populating this split. His second run was a much better effort; a 1:30.377 and still easily atop the leaderboard. As the fifteen other drivers were driving out of the pits for one significant run on the yellow Softs, Matt212 improved once more with a 1:30.074, securing pole position in his Williams, uncontested.
It’s Red Bull driver Simon Weigang who stepped up in Shanghai to make a statement and grab the remaining front row slot, registering a time of 1:30.593. You could tell that Simon had redemption on his agenda after being robbed of a chance to really race last week in Bahrain due to connection issues. Winner of both previous rounds so far this season, Ferrari’s Cedric “Evo” Thomé posted a 1:30.672 for P3, to be flanked on the grid by McLaren’s MVPZero33 who trailed with a 1:30.740. On row number three, we would find the Force India of OMG its Jo (1:30.758) along with Renault’s Feisty Ted (1:30.968), the last of the qualifiers under 1:31. Jo’s teammate at Force India langman17 (1:31.007) and Haas driver Chris “Pinecone” Parry (1:31.074) managed seventh and eighth, respectively. And to round out the top 10 on the grid were veteran competitor Jason97F1 for Haas(1:31.082) & Taylor Reynolds (1:31.140) for Mercedes.
A second consecutive mishap in qualifying for Mercedes’ ace Josh “Surprize” Idowu who could not live up to his potential, nearly a second off the pace, putting him way down the order in 14th position for the race.
Other than pole sitter Matt212 on the Ultrasofts, the whole grid had the Softs installed as their compound of choice for their initial stint of the Chinese Grand Prix. Matt212 kept the lead at the start with the help of his tyres’ superior grip. Simon and Evo remained close behind in the chase, not taking any risk so soon. Mirroring his previous race’s performance, Surprize got off to a scorching start and made his way up to P8 by the end of Lap One. No major incident occurred in the opening laps but for Jason97F1 who got pushed wide and off the track in Turns Two & Three, seemingly caused by de-synchronization, dropping him down to 15th.
Williams’ Matt212 began feeling the pressure on Lap Three as the leaders approached Turn One. The Englishman went wide on corner entry, inviting the Red Bull of Simon through freely. As he recovered towards the racing line, Matt found Evo to race wheel-to-wheel with as he was attempting to follow Simon, unsuccessfully. MVPZero33, who had been lurking behind the leading trio, took advantage of the situation and overtook the battling cars of Matt & Evo into Turn 6, putting him in P2. Evo finally got past Matt212 a couple of corners later when the Williams again swayed out of position. By the end of the lap, Matt212 was sliding all over the place and had already dropped to last. He decided he had enough of his dying Ultrasoft tyres and pitted for Mediums shortly thereafter. The strategic gamble of starting the race on the Ultras would not pay off.
Meanwhile, Surprize was already tearing off the competition and mounting his come back. He overtook both the Ferrari of Leopard & the Force India of langman17 in Turn 14’s hairpin then picked off the other Force India of OMG its Jo a couple of laps later on the straight leading to that same hairpin. Not even five laps in and Surprize had found his rivals at the front of the pack, less than two seconds behind Evo running in third place.
As it turns out, the race for the victory was being played out between the top four of Simon, MVPZero33, Evo and Surprize. These four were proving to be in a class of their own at the Shanghai International Circuit, progressively dropping the field behind them corner by corner. It is worth mentioning that they were doing so whilst battling it out. On Lap Eight, MVPZero33 sent his McLaren inside of Simon’s Red Bull at Turn 14’s entry, claiming first place in the process in a convincing maneuver. Evo once again tried to take advantage of a struggling car ahead of him but could not complete the action cleanly, making contact with Simon but overtaking for P2 nonetheless. That moment had allowed Surprize to effectively enter the fight.
The order at the top remained intact until Simon initiated the pit phase on the ninth lap, trading his worn Softs in favour of brand new Mediums, a strategy that every contender would then emulate in the following laps. MVPZero33 lost himself the lead to Evo as he got out of shape into Turn Eight in the 10th lap, leaving the championship leader in the lead for the first time of the race. Surprize came in the pits for his scheduled stop on that same lap and rejoined a second and a half behind Simon.
The leaders, Evo & MVPZero33, both pitted and completed the front runners’ pit window on the 11th lap. Evo rejoined the track side-by-side with Simon into the slow first corners and crucially came out of the duel ahead of the Red Bull. The Ferrari soared onto the back straight hunted by its rivals Simon & Surprize, a likely picture of the championship fight drawing itself. Surprize tried muscling past Simon in Lap 14’s hairpin but failed to do so. MVPZero33 got within DRS range on the next lap, making it known that he was all but done with the leaders, now nine seconds clear of “Class B” behind them.
The race’s defining moments came on Lap 17 & 18; Simon sent his Red Bull down Evo’s inside in Turn 14 in a perfectly measured move to finally reclaim the lead. However, Evo hooked his Ferrari to the Red Bull’s gearbox and tried to capitulate on its defensive stance coming into Turn One where, side-by-side, the cars made contact. Evo came out the worse of the two, losing control of his scarlet red race-car. Surprize could not avoid the sideways Ferrari and hit it, damaging his front-wing.
For Simon, it was the perfect scenario. He was able to pull away from that moment on, as Evo and Surprize were now racing each other, then MVPZero33 took action in the hairpin after benefiting from a good run onto the straight, overtaking both the Ferrari & Mercedes in the same move. For Surprize, it was game over. He pitted for a new wing and tyres but could never recover back into the points and retired a few laps later. Evo then set himself on chasing the surprisingly rapid McLaren of MVPZero33 but had trouble keeping up and finished third, the same position he had started in. It was a decent result overall for the German on a track he was visibly not as comfortable on as the previous ones.
The hero of the day was easily Simon. He showed the greatest poise in a massive pressure situation. The track seemed to suit his style and he made the most of it. A huge victory for Simon and Red Bull. MVPZero33 greatly impressed by taking second position the way he did. He made the one mistake late in the first stint when he had the lead but then executed calculated moves to take second place from the mighty Evo. It will be interesting to see how the McLaren driver follows up his impressive performance in the following races.
That four-way monster fight at the top filled the story quite nicely, but the war that went on further back throughout the race was equally breathtaking. It’s Taylor Reynolds who made the most out of it, crossing the line in P4, from P10 on the grid, 16 seconds behind Evo. The Mercedes driver had a stunning first stint with multiple overtakes, then followed it up with clutch moves as the second half of the race went by to take 12 points home, salvaging the race for Mercedes after Surprize’s unfortunate debacle.
langman17 actually finished fourth on track, another 3.8 seconds away from Reynolds, but a three-second time penalty sent him down to seventh place. There was enormous drama in the last couple of corners on the final lap. Renault’s Feisty Ted and Force India’s OMG its Jo clashed entering Turn 14, the Force India trying to force it’s way past the Renault through the grass, without success. Then, on the left-hander that is the final corner, Jo sent his car once more down the inside in a desperate attempt at overtaking Feisty Ted which sent the Renault around in a spin, forcing the incoming cars in an impromptu dodging sequence but for the Williams of Brown who got collected.
Ultimately, OMG its Jo was classified sixth behind the opportunistic Ferrari of Leopard. Jason97F1 recovered nicely from his early race incident, securing 8th position for Haas, followed closely by his teammate Pinecone. Reserve driver Clonetroop’s efforts resulted in a 10th position. The biggest loser is certainly Feisty Ted who got bullied by an uncompromising OMG its Jo out of a points finish.
The Chinese Grand Prix delivered in a big way for the fans. It once again proved how well suited it is for league racing, providing tons of overtakes and battles. Apex Online Racing Hype Energy F1 Leagues take a two-week break. They will be back with Round 4 in Baku for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Stay tuned!