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Rise of the Orange Monster


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So I always wanted to do this last year, but I never got around to it, but this time it's gonna stick. As the title suggests I'm going with McLaren, I love the look of the 2017 car, and with the new depth to R&D it's gonna be really exciting to push forward with them. Playing with difficulty at 75, Full Qualifying and 50% race distance (PS I absolutely love the slider difficulty option)

So first weekend is here and it's my home Grand Prix. Albert Park was always one of my absolute worst tracks in 2016, I always found that I really struggled for grip if I set the wings too low, and if I raised them too much I couldn't put in competitive lap times even though I felt super comfortable in the car. So being with McLaren and having terrible speed anyway, I decided not to worry too much and just went with the standard setup and dropped wings to 4-5 and ballast to 7. I knew my lap times wouldn't be amazing but I hoped that the comfort of the car would allow me to preserve tyres and push for a 1 stop and hope for a couple of DNF's to reach my team goal.

Practice: Track Acclimatisation was easy, it feels like they've made the gates a lot more forgiving in terms of speed and entry so that was an easy pass.

Tyre Management was also comfortable, however I really struggled with the new Fuel Saving programme. Gonna have to work on that one over the next few races.

Qualifying Pace really surprised me, I put in an absolute blistering lap which was only 0.028 off the secondary target time. Unfortunately I never got anywhere near it again.

And Race Strategy was smooth, I made sure to do all 5 laps to get the extra data and practice on the track. I don't know why you wouldn't.


So Qualifying came and it went exactly as I expected. I don't have the exact time but I qualified 18th with both Sauber's behind me and Stoffel just in front. 


Race Day, and I'm excited to see how the AI goes this time around. I decide start on Super Soft tyres with plans of a 1 stop onto the Softs to finish out the race. One of the first things I notice during the formation lap is that it appears that a lot more effort is needed to get the tyres warm and keep them at optimum temperature. In 2016 it felt like the formation lap was a bit of a gimmick, and tyres would warm up just by driving around the track normally, this year I find myself actually having to work them. It might get a little tedious in future, but I'm loving the realism.

 First thing I notice in race is that overtaking into corners is still easy to do. Cars will move out of your way, and as long as you stick the exit you'll stay in front every time. Made up about 8 places before the first DRS zone diving into the first corner. Safety Car on lap 5 gave me a chance to save some fuel and once again I noticed myself having to really work the tyres because the temperature was dropping so quickly. Nearly lost it on a couple of corners, so it seems like tyre temperature it quite important this year. On the flip side though, tyre wear is so much better, I found myself half way through the race still putting in fast laps on my starting tyres. Came in to pit on lap 14/29 knowing full well that the soft tyres would carry me through to the end. The long first stint had me up in 5th position as all the top 10 started on US and had to come in and change just after the safety car ended. After the pit stop it was just about defending my position and letting cars in front of me pit and watch my position rise. I ended up in 6th which was unbelievable because I don't think I actually put a passing move on anyone. I had Massa fighting to overtake me for the last 5 laps but I was able to hold him off.

Up next is Shanghai and I think I might be pushing my difficulty setting up just slightly.

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Well it's time to go racing in Shanghai, home of the longest unbroken straight in F1, and sitting here in this McLaren I have the feeling I'm gonna get eaten up on it every lap. Defending the main straight in Australia was hard enough, but this is going to be something else. As mentioned after Round 1, I've decided to bump the difficulty up to 80 and we'll see how we go.

Anyway into Practice 1 we go and it is pouring down rain, so the perfect opportunity for me to test out how these new vehicles handle in the wet. First thing I'm noticing is a lot more grip, the racing line is already dry and noticeable from the get go, so I get straight into Track Acclimatisation. Once again, extremely easy, even in pouring down rain, I was certain I'd missed a few apex's and not had anywhere near enough speed but those purples kept popping up and I got it 100% on the first lap; easy 50 R&D points though so not complaining. Tyre Management I managed to do quite well on, however the Fuel Saving program I struggled massively. Not sure if it's just me though, would love to hear how other people are faring with it. Once again in Qualifying Practice I pull an amazing lap out of my ass and smash the secondary target. I can't remember the exact time, but my projected qualifying position was 13th. Race Sim program is pretty standard, just do the 5 laps as you'd normally drive and it organises your race setup, don't think I need to mention it anymore.

So unfortunately due to the ridiculous qualifying practice lap I set, my goals have been set quite high as well. They were expecting 14th from me but I wasn't able to manage it. Qualified 16th with a time of 1:38.643 but managed to beat Stoffel by just under a second so I was happy enough with that. I've posted the setup used in the topic.

Raceday and I'm a little concerned about tyres, the setup that the team has offered is borderline, and I really struggled in Shanghai in 2016 and usually had to do a 3 stop. Long winding corners are terrible for me because I use a controller so I opted for a SS/SS/S strategy. I managed to make up 5 places while everyone was grouped up by diving hard into breaking zones but my tyres gave out very quickly and had to pit on lap 8 for my next set of Super Softs. Once I was in the clear though I was able to conserve the tyres a lot better and realised that I'd horribly misjudged the strategy and would have been better off going into mediums and probably would have made the one stop work. I prayed for a safety car, and even though both RBR cars went out (poor Ricciardo) it didn't come and I ended up cruising around alone for 20 laps to end up in a disappointing 15th.

As it stands Im now sitting 10th in the driver's standings and 7th in the constructors. Also on a side note my power unit and engine seems to be degrading at a very fast rate. I don't feel like I'm pushing ridiculously hard, so I'm not sure if it's something that I'm doing wrong, or if the game is being super realistic and McLaren have extremely poor reliability in game too, but I think I'm going to end up putting a lot of R&D into durability so that I don't have to worry too much about it as my career goes on. I'm due for a powertrain and aerodynamic upgrade next race, and I'm going to purchase the first durability upgrade in time for Bahrain as well. I think the difficulty of 80 is good for now, I actually traded in my F1 2016 about 4 months ago because I knew I wouldn't play it after this one came out and I wanted to get a decent price for it so I'm very out of practice. The last few months have been spent playing Dirt4 which is a completely different monster. Anyway stay tuned, I'd love to hear other people's experiences, and I'm loving this new game so far

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The crisp evening desert air is calling and that can only mean it's time to go racing in Sakhir for the Bahrain Grand Prix. Anyone who played F1 2016 knows that this track was essentially guaranteed points, no matter what team you played as. I have no idea why the AI was so bad here, but I even managed a 3rd place with Manor racing in my first season which was just ridiculous, so naturally I'm very interested to see how it goes this time around. 

Well s*** a brick and f*** me with it, not one, but BOTH of my upgrades have failed. Welcome to the new upgrade system indeed. I'm not sure what the Vaseline success rate is, or if it differs from team to team but this is definitely not how I wanted to start my season. Thankfully you don't have to pay the full price again for the upgrade though, the points and time needed have both been cut in half from 1000 points and 2 weeks to 500 points and 1 week. Hopefully both will be successful in time for Russia. The durability upgrades can't fail which is good, so my first upgrade there has gone through.

As I mentioned after Shanghai I was quite worried about the about of degradation to my engine components and I've got a few getting very close to 50% wear and it's instantly noticeable as I head into first practice. I feel quite comfortable in my setup, obviously the big long straights are the biggest weakness, but taking away too much downforce means I just end up losing too much time on the corners but I think I've found a decent middle ground. Once again Track Acclimatisation and Tyre Management are a breeze but the Fuel Saving is next to impossible to get purple on. I manage to just squeeze enough to get 30 points but I am really struggling with these programmes. Whether it's me or the McLaren I have no idea but I'm going to guess the latter. Qualifying Sim goes surprisingly well, I beat the secondary target with a time just over 1:36 but after the final practise I now have 3 power units looking very worn. I decide to bite the bullet and replace the ICE, MGU-H and TC for Q1. I'm envisioning a lot of grid penalties this season as it's only the 3rd weekend and I'm already on 2/4 of half of the engine parts; upgrading durability is going to be vital in my long term plan.

The effect of changing parts is immediately noticeable as I put in a Qualifying time of 1:34.125, nearly 2 seconds faster than anything I managed to do in practice. Admittedly you ge an extra engine mode in Qualifying, but 2 seconds is a massive jump. I'm starting the grid from 17th, once again just short of my goal of 16th, but nearly a second faster than my teammate yet again.

Race night is here for the first time this year and I'm opting for an ultra aggressive 2 stop with SS/S/S, forgoing the medium tyres that I imagine all over 2 stoppers will use. I get a massive dive into the first corner and make up 5 places, but after that it's rather uneventful race. The pace of al the other cars compared to the McLaren is so noticeable, and I think Australia showed that in order to have any real chance there needs to be a safety car or two. I pretty much drove the entire race on my own, occasionally being overtaken down one of the long straights and ended up finishing 14th. Nothing special but I really don't think I could have improved at all. With these new tyres the possibility of a 1 stop is there, but it would definitely require a safety car or some serious tyre management skills.

At the end of the weekend I decide to put some points into upgrading the durability of the Turbo Charger as it was the first component to go past 50% wear. I'll be upgrading the MGU-H and ICE asap so that I don't have to worry too much next season, and maybe putting a bit of effort into the powetrain. This entire season seems to be about damage control and preparing for the future which isn't amazing, but I know that when I get my first win in a season or 2, it's going to feel amazing. As fun as this is for me, it's definitely not for the faint of heart, I don't think I could recommend a McLaren season unless you're incredibly committed.

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Well it's back to the Black Sea for another weekend in Russia, probably the last time we will have the race at this time of year as it's been switched to much later in the season as of 2018. Nevertheless it's one of my favourite tracks, one where you can forget about tyre management and just go flat out thanks to the most beautifully tarmac'd track on the calendar. 

I will admit however that sitting in a McLaren is not giving me a lot of confidence heading into a track that is full throttle for the majority of the lap. The two big long straights are going to be awful as they were in the previous races. Thankfully my upgrades have come through, though I can't see them making a massive difference.

Heading into first practice and I'm spending a lot of time trying to find a suitable setup. It seems if I take away too much downforce to accomodate the speed I need on the straights then I lose it all in sector 3 through the winding corners. I decide to play to the McLaren's strengths and not worry too much about the straights but make up all my time in the corners. Like Alonso said, I'm the fastest in the corners. I'm not going to really bother mentioning practice programmes anymore, but I did notice that the tyre management program was a lot harder than expected, I never had to worry at all in 2016, and with the tyres being more durable this year I would've thought it to be even easier. I suppose we'll see what happens in the race.

Qualifying time and I have an awful first lap and need to come in and put the other set of Ultra's on to have any chance of setting a time. And I manage to pull out a blistering 1:39.413 to get into Q2 for the first time this season. Unfortunately having used both sets in Q1 I don't have any fresh Ultra Softs, but I manage to put in a respectable 1:39.765 on my first lap. My last flying lap brought about my introduction to losing a gear, which just happened to be 7th. There was no chance of putting in a lap so I bail out and end up qualifying 14th. I was actually quite surprised at losing a gear as the box was only just on 50% heading into qualifying. Turns out to be the best thing to happen to me this weekend because if it didn't happen in Q2 I would've gone into the race with it and had it blow up on the 2nd or 3rd lap. So time to change the gearbox overnight and cop a 5 place grid penalty.

Raceday and there are light showers around, something that hasn't shown up on my weather forecast, however my engineer is still telling me to start on the ultra softs. I'm a little weary but it seems like everyone else is doing it so we're all going to struggle together. I've been dropped to 19th on the grid and heading down into the first corner is the scariest experience I've had so far. I'm pretty sure we go 4 wide around the corner, how everyone makes it out in one piece I have no idea, but I end up gaining 8 positions and work on pushing further up. It's apparent now that once again the AI isn't fantastic in the wet as I'm overtaking cars on the straights and setting fastest lap times. After about 5 laps the rain has dried up, I'm sitting in 5th, and now everyone is starting to catch me. I've built up a pretty good gap and the gaps between all the other cars are decent too so I feel pretty comfortable to hold my position for a while. Ricciardo suffers a mechanical failure in front of me and I get promoted to 4th. Just as I'm entering pit lane Verstappen crashes out in front of me getting me up to 3rd and the safety car is called. Probably the only time this season where it's going to be a nuisance as all my advantage is gone, but I'm still sitting in a decent position. After the restart it was business as usual. I watched helplessly as Bottas and Raikkonnen eventually caught and overtook me on the straights like I was driving a go kart. Perez started catching me and put me under a lot of pressure on the last lap but I managed to hold on to finish 5th. Or so I thought until 4th popped up. Apparently at some point in the race Vettel made a 2nd pit stop which I completely missed, dropping him down to 9th. I checked the race director and it looks like he did an US/US/SS strategy which just doesn't make any sense at all for someone who was sitting on pole. That's probably my biggest concern about this game, how often the computer makes really silly pit strategies or doesn't take advantage of the safety car when it comes to strategy. I was hoping it would be changed this year but it doesn't seem so.

After the race it looks like I'm going to have to replace a few more engine components and I'm definitely going to be upgrading the durability. Although with Spain being my least favourite track next, maybe I should just break down... I honestly hate that track

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I had a difficult time with Spain in 2016. So far though, even in my McLaren, I've had a blast driving around Catalunya. It was a difficult race for me, as I was able to catch faster cars in the corners but not able to pass as they pulled away in the straights. I'm loving the complexity and realism of this season so far.

By the way, if you have a gearbox issue again, try pitting or pulling into the garage and see if the problem doesn't get corrected on its own. I had lost 6th gear during practice and went in to make a setup change and thought I'd try the gearbox again, and it was cured!

I look forward to seeing how your season progresses, good luck!

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Oh I have to say I'm actually really enjoying this Spanish GP so far, the McLaren really suits it and these cars have so much more grip that the long sweeping corners aren't as hard using a controller. I'll finish everything off and put my story up in a few hours, but I'm at that awful crossroads where I'm not sure if I need to bump up the difficulty or not, because I qualified ridiculously well here and Russia and I've only got 2 minor upgrades fitted. The car isn't getting any faster, so I had to assume that it's just me improving after not playing 2016 for 3-4 months. I'll decide after the GP I guess

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Well it's time for my least favourite track of 2016, and time to see exactly how much these new machines can handle these big long sweeping corners at high speeds. Last year I was never able to perform well at this track no matter how hard I tried, the big sweeping left rights have always been a struggle for me using a controller and my tyres would always wear more than expected and I'd be forced into an extra pit stop. But let jump in and see how it goes. I've replaced the MGU-K and the ES before FP1 so it's time to get out on track.

First thing I notice is a dramatic improvement to traction. Even running lower wings in the McLaren I'm able to hit almost every corner at a very decent speed with the exception of the blind right into the DRS zone at the top of the hill which requires me to back off just a fraction, but if I add anymore downforce then the straights will just be a feeding frenzy against me. Tyre wear is remarkably good as well, it's the first track that I've ended up at the very top end of the purple bar so there's not going to be any need for additional pit stops. I can see why Wehrlein was able to do a 1 stop for Sauber at the real event this year. I've also finally mastered the final chicane which was my least favourite corner in the entire calendar. I'm not sure if they've made the bump on the left smaller this year but you definitely don't lose as much speed if you accidentally take a bigger chunk of it. The DRS zone into the final straight has also moved, I was surprised at how caught out by it I was for the first few laps because it doesn't actually show up during the Track Acclimatisation as a big line on the ground but I assume that will be patched over.

Heading in Qualifying and I'm actually feeling quite comfortable and confident with the car and the setup (which I've posted already). I finished a couple of practice sessions in the top 10 so I'm hoping to be able to replicate those good times. Unfortunately I waste a couple of laps with some errors but manage to just sneak out of Q1. In Q2 I again burn a couple of laps and end up in 12th with a 1:23.539. I'm a little disappointed because I could have definitely gone into the 1:22's if I had've done a perfect lap from the get go, but it's still my best qualifying position so far.

Raceday and I've been promoted to 11th on the grid due to a penalty from someone ahead of me. I'm opting for an aggressive S/M/M strategy, ignoring the hard compound as my tyre wear has been very good through all the sessions. The race gets underway and just as in Russia the first corner is absolutely chaotic. I just don't have anywhere near enough speed off the line and cars from further down are alongside me before I even get to the braking zone. Thankfully the superior grip and cornering ability of the McLaren lets me zip around the outside and up into 7th to slot comfortably and start to get in my rhythm. The big boys in front of me are disappearing into the distance while I fight off Perez and Massa behind me. A few laps in and Vettel has a mechanical failure which brings out the safety car, and from here the race takes a very strange turn. No one pits under the safety car, but as soon as it finishes people start peeling off and Bottas (who started on Mediums) pits on lap 8/33 to go onto the Hards. I assume he's going for a 1 stop but surely he could have lasted another 5-6 laps before coming in. After the craziness and my pit stop I find myself in 4th, cruising around, sticking to my strategy while everyone else goes mental. I eventually get overtaken by Verstappen and nothing else really happens for the rest of the race and I end up coming home in 5th behind the two Mercedes and Red Bulls. I'm quite happy with the result, but a little disappointed that the game seems to be suffering from a lack of intelligent AI decisions when a safety car is involved in a race. In the end Bottas ended up stopping again half way through the race to put on ANOTHER set of Hards, Hamilton did a 3 stop S/S/S/H, and there were a few others that I can't exactly remember. Admittedly they still finished ahead of me, but for a game that strives for realism, these made absolutely no sense.

As the weekend wraps up I have to make more engine changes, and at this rate I'll be taking penalties every weekend. I'm now on my 3rd ICE, MGU-H and TC, and I just fitted my 2nd CE. Gearbox is looking ok, hopefully Monaco doesn't do too much damage but we'll just have to wait and see. I'm really looking forward to hitting the streets, it was my absolute favourite track of 2016, I just hope the extra car width isn't too noticeable and I don't end up in the walls

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As an Australian, nothing will stick in my mind when I think of Monaco more than the look on Daniel Ricciardo's face after the disaster that was Monaco 2016. What should have been the greatest day of his life and an amazing moment in Australian motor racing history was inexcusably thrown away in circumstances that will never again be seen in F1. Monaco is incredibly unforgiving, and one lapse of concentration is enough to end your race, though it's not usually the pit crew who lose focus and cause it. Having said all that, I'm keen to get back on the streets and see how these new cars handle it.

Heading out into first practice and I'm spending a lot of time tweaking and fine tuning my setup. I'm deciding to run a lot less downforce than I would on any other car, but still enough to be able to take Massenet at almost full throttle and still stick the right turn down Casino. You can make up so much time here that the little bits lost in the hairpin and Nouvelle don't matter. With overtaking next to impossible, qualifying is everything here and having the perfect setup is less important than running the perfect lap. I eventually find one that lets me fit into a nice rhythm which I've posted up already. All 3 practice sessions go pretty smoothly, I lose a few front wings clipping the hairpin exit but nothing major. Going to have to be incredibly careful in the race though.

Qualifying time and Q1 is the most ridiculous Qualifying I've ever seen in an F1 game and I'm going to really need answers. For some reason, Palmer, Ocon and Hamilton didn't head out on track to set times, forcing them to start from 18th, 19th and 20th respectively. I have absolutely no idea what is going on, but it's at least guaranteed me 1 place higher in the race so I won't complain, but I'm incredibly confused. I manage to make it through to Q3 for the first time in my 2017 career, and finish in 8th position with a 1:15.019. I was really hoping to break into the 1:14 but my skills just aren't up to it yet.

Raceday is here and once again I've been promoted up a few places to 6th due to penalties from above. Strategy is a standard US/SS, and I burst off the line and steal 2 places into Sainte Devote as Stroll and Magnusson bump each other off the start. Sitting in 4th now and I burn some fuel to try and catch Verstappen who is in front of me. After a few laps of following close behind I take an extremely large amount of kerb through the hairpin to pull up alongside him, then cutback and take the inside line down the next right to make the move stick with only a slight nudge of the wheels. It will probably be my single greatest ever overtake in F1 and it's got me sitting in a podium position, albeit barely a quarter of the way through the race. Coming up to the pit window and the effort I spent has seriously worn the tyres and I'm struggling for a lot of grip, I was expecting the US to be able to easily last half the race but I'm barely 40% through and it's like driving on ice. My pit stop is perfectly times and I come out into free air and set about cruising the remainder of the race out. I've built up an 8 second gap back to 4th and I'm sitting beautifully. Bottas and Vettel are half a lap ahead of me so I know I've got no chance of catching them, but for a 2nd race in a row Vettel has had a mechanical breakdown promoting me up to 2nd and I end up with my first podium finish.

A massive amount of luck has gone my way this weekend so I think I'm still sitting with a decent difficulty setting for now. If Ocon and Hamilton had completed Q1 I could have easily started much further down the field, and the grid penalties and Vettel's breakdown helped my final position immensely. If anyone else has noticed drivers not attempting qualifying I'd be very interested to know.

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Oh Canada, every time I've visited it's always felt like home, and the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has been a very happy hunting ground for fellow Australians in recent history. Daniel Ricciardo claiming his maiden victory and cementing himself as an extremely competent driver and I still pray that Red Bull Racing will get themselves together and give him a car capable of winning the World Championship because few drivers deserve to hold the trophy more than him after the career he's had.

Heading into this weekend after finishing 2nd in Monaco and I'm very close to being promoted to first driver, although an immense amount of luck has gone my way so far this season, I will probably be increasing my difficulty over the next few races as I'm getting a lot more comfortable and confident with the new handling.

Heading into practice sessions and everything goes as usual. Fuel saving still seems ridiculously difficult, but I'm just learning to live with it. Practice 3 is a wet session which is quite lucky as it's forecast to rain during qualifying so I get some much needed time to get used to the conditions. Setup is decent, obviously the long straight is a massive struggle and I'm going to have to do a lot of defending, but I can't drop the wings anymore or the corners are too difficult and tyre wear will be through the roof.

Q1 is a dry sessions and I set a 1:15.026 which has me in 7th as the rain begins to fall for the next 2 sessions. It's my first competitive session in the wet and once again it seems like the AI really struggles as I somehow manage to qualify in 2nd place just 0.004 behind Vettel. I would have gotten Pole but I messed up the exit of the last chicane. 

Raceday and because of the rain in Q3 the strategy is completely open to what I want to do. It seems like the field is split 50/50 of people going for a 1 or 2 stop, and seeing as I made the mistake earlier in the season of opting for the extra stop I start on the SS with a one stop onto the Softs. I get a good jump off the start, but Vettel has the inside line into the first corner and I have to slot behind him into 2nd (weirdly I get a radio message saying they were disappointed with my start) and watch as he pulls away on the faster US tyres. I'm not able to pull enough of a gap before the straight and I'm under massive pressure from Hamilton already. I'm just able to outbrake him, but I know that as soon as DRS is available I won't have any choice but to surrender the position, rather than risk a crash. Sure enough on lap 3 he gets past and unfortunately there's no respite as Massa and Ocon are close behind (both promoted up due to half the field taking grid penalties). On lap 10/35 the safety car comes out and I decide to change my strategy on the fly and pit for the US, knowing that I'll slot back into the middle of the field along with everyone else who will still have one stop to go, but as they have to pit for Softs, I'll stop for ultras and have the tyre advantage. Why no one else does this, I have no idea. 

So I slot back into 13th and start to move back up the field. I'm still hindered by the inability to overtake on the straights but with the cornering speed on the US tyres I'm mainly looking to beat everyone in the pit stops. After I pit for my final set of tyres I find myself in 5th as the much faster Ferarri's and Mercedes sit in front of me with Verstappen chasing behind and I feel like I'm sitting pretty comfortably. I'd been warned early in the race about my gearbox wear, and with 10 laps to go I end up losing 2nd. The 1/2 left right past the start line and the hairpin are now a nuisance, but it could have been much worse if I'd lost any other gear.

Thankfully I manage to hold onto my 5th place to round up another successful race weekend and most likely secure my new position as the McLaren Number 1. As my 2nd gearbox also didn't make the required 6 races I'm facing a grid penalty in Baku and I'm moving onto my 3rd MGU-K. I'm probably going to increase the difficulty a little before Baku, even though it's probably one of the tracks that the McLaren is least suited to, the current setting is starting to feel a little too easy right now

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So we visit again to Baku after what was an incredibly tame race in 2016, with people forecasting safety car after safety car, only for it to never arise. Fast forward 12 months and we get possibly one of those most insane races that I've ever witnessed. Safety cars, red flags, penalties galore, teammates taking each other out, Bottas coming from a lap down to steal 2nd place by a fraction of a second, Stroll keeping his cool and defying all the non believers to become the 2nd youngest podium finisher in history, and the ever reliable Daniel Ricciardo positioned perfectly to take his first win of the season. If ever there was a race to show someone how unpredictable motor racing can be, this was that race. And I am very keen to get my own weekend underway.

Unfortunately in all my excitement I've forgotten to bump up the difficulty, but being a high speed race it probably won't matter too much. And definitely isn't helped along by the fact that yet again my upgrade has failed. So far that's 3/3 upgrades that have failed on the first attempt, which is 3000 resource points wasted. Investing in improving the reliability of new parts is starting to look like it's not as useless as I initially thought.

So out into FP1 and oh my word this is almost a completely different track. Almost all of the corners have had the kerbs raised so the turn in point is much later. Corner entry and exit speed seems like the key to setting fast lap times around this circuit now, as the car is bumped massively if you cut and hit one of these new kerbs. As usual all the practice programs with the exception of the fuel saving go smoothly.

As qualifying cones around I'm feeling confident in the times I've been putting in, but very aware that I'm playing below the difficulty I should be on now. The straights are once again going to be a nightmare as I'm running very balanced wings to get the best corner speeds, but I figure the higher up the pack I start, the better my chances of holding on are. I end up getting through to Q3 and Qualifying 7th.

Race day and it occurs to me that I haven't actually checked the weather forecast as I'm being told that it's going to rain nearly halfway into the race. I'm starting on the Super Softs that I used in Q2 and hoping to manage them well enough to get me through to when I'll need Intermediates. As predicted the first few laps are a real struggle, trying to build enough speed in the corners to pull enough of a gap to not get chased down on the last straight, whilst also trying to conserve the tyres is just not working. I decide to concede the speed and focus on getting these tyres through until the rain starts and I end up dropping down to 12th fighting in the middle of the pack. The pit window opens and a few cars opt for new tyres as the rain is still 5-10 minutes away. At this point it feels like I'm driving on ice, and I've never been more thankful to see rain in an F1 race. Just under half way through and I pit, and now I work on catching back up and taking advantage of the AI's poor wet weather speed. I make my way up to 6th when inexplicably, everyone starts to pit for a 2nd set of intermediate tyres. My calculations say I'm going to finish with about 40% wear, which is definitely doable, and I'm surprised the AI isn't doing the same. With the extra pit stop taken by everyone I find myself sitting in 1st being chased by Hamilton and Bottas, and I'm starting to know how Stroll was feeling. 3 laps to go and Bottas is in my rear view and doing much, much faster lap times than me. 1 lap to go and he is right on my tail. I bite the bullet and put in an extremely aggressive lap in the hopes of pulling away enough to not lose it on the last straight and I end up winning by 1.5 seconds.

My first win of my career although I have to admit it came a lot sooner than I thought. Difficulty will definitely be raised for Austria, and I'm working on trying to upgrade the part that failed again

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