F1 2012 Qantas Australian Grand Prix

Melbourne, Australia: The first race of the Formula One season kicked off on March 16 under beautiful sunny conditions with a three day weather forecast of 27/26/28 degrees Celsius. The track is 5.3km long and the race is scheduled for 15 laps. My objectives for the weekend are to qualify 14th or better and finish the race 11th or better, and the Team Mate Challenge is active during the race weekend.

Albert Park is a street circuit located outside of Melbourne and has been a fixture on the F1 schedule since 1996. Consistent corner placement makes the track fast and easy to drive, however the flat terrain in some areas and few true straights make overtaking opportunities limited putting a heightened importance on qualifying and pit sequencing.

Prerace and Qualifying

My teammate at the season start is Daniel Ricciardo who is currently in 15th position with a season goal of finishing 13th or better. He is slotted as the 1st Driver and I am relegated to the backwaters of sloppy seconds. The Ferrari in the background is the car I used for the Young Drivers Test to start the career, not the actual car I will be racing for Scuderia Toro Rosso.

I finish the practice session in 13th place overall with a best lap time of 1:37.098, 0.674 off of the leader.

In the first qualifying session I make a significant improvement with a best lap time of 1:34.959, 0.645 off of the leader and placing me in 6th place overall.

In the second qualifying session I further improve with a best lap time of 1:33.398 placing me in P1.

In the third qualifying session I improve my best lap time to 1:33.241, however it is 0.317 off of the leader Sebastian Vettel placing my in P3 which allows me to pass the qualifying objective of 14th or better.

Race Laps 1-5

Although going into the race weekend my objective was to finish 11th or better, the outstanding qualifying session modified this goal to finishing first overall. Here on the first lap I use KERS to punch my way into the turn and drive past Vettel on the outside at the Brabham and Jones turns one and two in sector one.

Vettel kept close and here on lap two he came along on the outside through the turns 11 and 12 at the start of sector three but could not complete the pass.

DRS was enabled at the start of lap three and I posted a fastest lap time of 1:37.058. Vettel would post a fastest lap of 1:35.656 during lap four and kept immense pressure on me while Pastor Maldonado posted a fastest lap of 1:35.405 during lap five.

Lap Time Results

Lap 1: 1:43.840 (P1)
Lap 2: 1:37.058 (P1)
Lap 3: 1:36.597 (P1)
Lap 4: 1:36.650 (P1)
Lap 5: 1:36.124 (P1)

Race Laps 6-10 (Pit Sequence)

At the start of lap six the team instructs me to pit during the lap as I continue to lead Vettel with a respectable gap of 0.790.

I would enter the pits in first place, and a rather poor stop of 6.572 along with several drivers staying out help drop me to 11th place overall while exiting. Mark Webber would post a fastest lap of 1:34.895 during this sequence. During the stop the team changed my tires from the yellow options to the white primes and loaded the chassis with enough fuel to finish the race.

I would exit the pits behind Jenson Button and overtake him heading into Whiteford turn three in sector one, putting me behind Vettel who was running in ninth at this point after his pit stop. Several more drivers would pit at the end of the lap which propelled me into P7 when I crossed the start/finish line.

During lap eight I would press ahead into P5 and challenge Webber for the fourth spot, however as the grass on my right front tire suggests I was not doing a great job of keeping the chassis on the track which prevented me from placing myself in an optimal passing profile.

Felipe Massa would pit at the end of the lap nine which would place me in P4. During lap 10 Lewis Hamilton would post a fastest lap of 1:34.249 and considering my running speeds in the 1:36’s there would be no realistic way of my catching the leader. Here Button passes me temporarily and although I regain P4 in reality at this point I was simply holding people up at this point.

Lap Time Results

Lap 6: 1:56.780 (P11)
Lap 7: 1:47.157 (P7)
Lap 8: 1:36.377 (P5)
Lap 9: 1:37.260 (P4)
Lap 10: 1:36.762 (P4)

Race Laps 11-15

During lap 12 Massa would set the fastest lap at 1:33.920, a scorching time compared to the numbers that I was putting up.

Button and Sergio Pérez would hound me during lap 13, and although Button pulled forward here I managed to out brake him and retain P4.

The final lap began with my maintaining P4 and Button trailing behind by 10.299.

Sebastian Vettel would take the checkered flag and post the fastest lap of the race at 1:33.725.

Although I failed to achieve the modified race goal of finishing first and missed the Podium by one spot, I am nonetheless satisfied with P4 given the race parameters setup (see the end of this post for details on how the difficulty settings for this career were configured).

Lap Time Results

Lap 11: 1:35.089 (P4)
Lap 12: 1:35.066 (P4) Personnel Best
Lap 13: 1:38.546 (P4)
Lap 14: 1:36.215 (P4)
Lap 15: N/A

Race Result

I finished the Grand Prix in P4, a disappointing 14.897 off of the race winner.

Drivers’ Championship

The 12 points earned puts me in fourth place in the overall standings.

Constructors’ Championship

The fourth place finish and the 12 points would put Scuderia Toro Rosso in third place overall, 28 points back from Red Bull Racing in the top spot.

Race Recap

As mentioned earlier I am happy with the result, however having the car already equipped with KERS and DRS yet finishing almost 15 seconds off of the leader indicates to me that this season is going to be a significant challenge.

Career Setup

Each new profile requires the completion of a Young Drivers Test series of vignettes that must be completed before advancing (a total of about 15 minutes of game time on and off of the track). As you progress through the segments, you are awarded chevrons based on your performance.

The total number of chevrons accumulated can affect your choice of teams to begin the career mode. The final evaluation test is a timed lap which requires 1:50.000 or better to be awarded gold. My best lap time was 1:50.713, just off the mark which awarded me a silver medal and a single chevron for the task.

I bagged a total of 17 out of 18 chevrons throughout the Young Drivers Test which allowed me the choice of all but the Williams team (the other selections were Marussia, HRT, Caterham, Scuderia Toro Rosso and Sahara Force India).

Having raced Marussia and HRT previously and knowing they are hampered by the lack of a starting KERS system, I went with Toro Rosso which has a season goal of finishing 14th or better in the Drivers World Championship. The team is based in Faenza, Italy and the Team Principal is Franz Tost. The core drivers are Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Éric Vergne (whom I will be replacing as the 2nd Driver). The car has the STR7 chassis and is powered by a Ferrari 056 engine.

On this page of the difficulty settings I leave everything at the default for Easy mode (I am a casual survey gamer who races with a Logitech Dual Action controller).

On this page I tweak the parameters to present a more robust challenge by changing the Rules and Flags setting to Full, the Car Damage Simulation to Full, and the AI Difficulty setting to Intermediate.

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