F1 2012 Grand Prix of Europe

Valencia Street Circuit: The eighth race of the season took place at the Valencia, Spain asphalt track that hosted the European Grand Prix from 2008-2012 (the last such event on the schedule until 2016). The track was designed to meet the same safety standards as a permanent track, and features many overtaking opportunities due to its minimum 14m width. The race is scheduled for 14 laps on the 5.42km circuit resulting in a total distance of 75.9km and 350 turns.

The track is very easy to drive in F1 2012 in my opinion, and it is not difficult to attain pole, lead all of the laps and ultimately win the race. While easy, it does cause a driver to lose focus due to the mundane aspect of being out front, and therefore it is equally not difficult to suffer a lapse in concentration and smash into one of the retaining walls. Tire wear is rated at medium and brake wear is rated at high, however I did not notice any decrease in car performance.

The weather forecast for the race is partly sunny skies and a 22% chance of rain, and my objectives for the weekend are to qualify in sixth and to finish the race in third place or better.

Prerace and Qualifying

My teammate Daniel Ricciardo is presently in 17th position and P1 on the team while I am leading the Drivers’ Championship but in P2. With seven races down and 13 more to be run, I was seriously hoping for a bump to even driver status, if not to outright take the top spot due to my performance week in and week out.

The practice session was run on the white tires and I posted a top time of 1:48.028, 4.5 seconds faster than second place Fernando Alonso. The backdrop of the screenshot features the Swing Bridge part of the circuit, one of the more technically difficult areas to get in and out of with speed.

The first qualifying segment was run using the yellow option tire and I would improve my time to 1:46.350.

During the second qualifying session I would improve my time yet again to 1:46.314, also on the yellow option tire.

The final qualifying shootout saw me post a top time of 1:46.452 to take the pole, alongside my pseudo-teammates making it for an all Red Bull top three.

It gives you wings, bitches.

Race Strategy

The pole position altered my prerace goal of finishing third or better to finishing first. Here the default offering is to pit on lap six, and although I know rain is a possibility in the final laps I am not making any changes at this point, allowing the condition of the track dictate whether I adjust on the fly (or begrudgingly pit with a lap left because I can’t keep the car on the track).

Track Overview

While the track diagram makes it appear to be a difficult undertaking, I find this to be the easiest track on the circuit (even easier than Monza).

Event Information

The 22% chance of rain during the race given the dynamic weather program built into the game has me somewhat concerned, however not enough to alter the default pit strategy.

Research and Development

Nothing new on the R&D front: I am currently running with the Suspension Arm Improvement (which increases mechanical grip by 10%) gained at the Chinese Grand Prix in week three, and the Rear Wing Update upgrade (which reduces drag by 5%) acquired at the Canadian Grand Prix in week seven.

Car Setup

I am leaving everything as is which is what I have done all season. I know there is a wide range of tweaks that can help or hurt the car, however I am not inclined to do anything more than drive the package they put under me.

Race Laps 1-5

Being on pole makes this job a whole lot easier.

At the start of the race I would employ KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) to keep me ahead of the pack heading into the turn one and two kink.

I would secure the fastest lap of the race on the second circuit, posting a top time of 1:48.203. Here on lap three I am navigating through the Swing Bridge area of the track. The DRS (Drag Reduction System) would be enabled at the beginning of lap the lap, however no one was close enough to me during this stint to use it (against me).

Lap Time Results

Lap 1: 1:53.899 (P1) 
Lap 2: 1:48.203 (P1) Fastest Lap of the Race 
Lap 3: 1:49.850 (P1) DRS Enabled
Lap 4: 1:49.348 (P1) 
Lap 5: 1:49.623 (P1)

Race Laps 6-10

At the start of lap six I received notice to pit at the end of the lap.

So far the car has been handling great and there is no reason to deviate from plan.

The pit crew nails a fast stop of 3.178 and sends me on my way with four fresh whites.

Although I would fall to sixth place after exiting the pits, I would regain P1 by the end of lap seven during the pit sequence of the other drivers.

Here just after the start of lap nine I would smack the right side wall coming out of a turn, tearing off a part of my front wing assembly (lying on the track behind me).

My crew chief would tell me to stay on the track as the overall damage was not significant enough to pit. This is what happens sometimes when you are running out front, unchallenged while just trying to make laps and concentration is lost for just a split second.

Coming into the same turn on the next lap the damage is visible on the left front end.

Lap Time Results

Lap 6: 2:05.247 (P6) Pit Entrance Lap
Lap 7: 1:54.382 (P1) Pit Exit Lap
Lap 8: 1:49.390 (P1)
Lap 9: 1:51.102 (P1) Incident Lap
Lap 10: 1:48.960 (P1)

Race Laps 11-15

Having lost almost a full second during the previous lap, here on the 12th circuit I manage to start improving some sector times to increase the gap over Mark Webber in second place.

During lap 13 the weather would shift somewhat as a very light rain began to fall on the track, however with one lap to go there is no point in pitting for new tires.

Although this race was not a challenge in that I had to fight for the lead with another driver, it was satisfying to achieve another podium finish and victory to further cement my iron grip on the Driver's Championship.

Lap Time Results

Lap 11: 1:49.873 (P1)
Lap 12: 1:48.674 (P1)
Lap 13: 1:49.430 (P1)
Lap 14: N/A

Race Result

It is yet another podium sweep for the Red Bull sponsorship program as I finish 6.763 ahead of Mark Webber and 7.026 ahead of SebastianVettel.

Drivers’ Championship

My lead in the standings over Mark Webber has increased to 35 points. Although I have won five out of eight races this season, I am only two non-points finishes and Mark Webber wins away from being knocked off of the top spot.

Constructors’ Championship

My valiant effort for Scuderia Toro Rosso can only do so much.

Parc Ferme

I should start renting space at this place.

Race Recap

The fastest lap came early on (lap two) and I could never seem to get back close to it.

Team Mate Challenge Data

With no competition to speak of here, I am bewildered how I am still driver number two on the team.

Post Mortem

The whole event took less than an hour to run. Using FRAPS as the screen capture device set to a three second pulse interval, it took a lazy ten days to cull all of the images and write this after-action report. The race itself was fun as I really like driving this track, however I suspect this may have been a gimme by the developers as it looks crazy difficult in terms of layout but is actually quite effortless to drive (unless you start daydreaming).

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