Round four of this season’s Invictus Racing League came to the beautiful hills of Austria, as the six leagues all looked at climbing to the top of their respective mountains and come away from our brief stop-over in Europe with maximum points.
The track has only eight real corners, and plenty of options when it comes to strategy, it allows the racing to be furious and unpredictable. It signals the 25% distance in all championship’s, but with plenty of racing left to go this season, who would come out on top before we make our way to Canada for round five.
Last week’s race winner Samuthepito had taken the lead in the championship, but with Scopefielder only a point behind the title looks wide open in the early stages. BoyBetterKnowSB (Scott) gave up his lead after a technical failure in Japan caused a dramatic crash at 130R, but he and the likes of Speed_Queen80 still have strong title ambitions moving forward.
Qualifying was contested in full wet conditions, and with drivers struggling to adapt to the extreme wet tyres it was championship leader Sam who would annihilate the field with a time over eight tenths of a second ahead of his nearest rival as GP1_Alex set a superb late lap to start alongside Sam on the front row.
The race session was due to be dry, so the field knew that they would be starting on fresh dry tyres that would give them all choice as to what strategy to utilise come race-time.
The top four made a breakaway in the early portion of the race with Sam, Alex, Scope and Speed_Queen all building a gap over the rest of the field, but by half-distance Scopefielder had leapt Alex into second and looked to chase down the Spanish driver.
Scott had struggled with pace in the first stint, but using a good undercut he managed to catch and would engage in a fantastic battle with Speed_Queen over fourth and fifth for the remaining fifteen laps. Whilst further down the grid Nikki9095 and Gavpig both fought over seventh and eighth in a fun battle between the two.
Late into the race and with six laps remaining Scope made a move for the lead, the Swede would look at keeping his rival at arm’s length, but a mistake from Scope on lap 32 let the Williams back through and a clear run to the line. Sam would eventually meet the chequered flag and collect a second win on the spin, and in the process extending his lead in the championship to four points.
Scopefielder came home second and made it four podiums in four, whilst it was a superb race for GP1_Alex who picked up a debut no-assist podium in third as the Sauber team celebrated on the pit-wall.
Scott and Sam both sit on two wins this season, who will be the first to three or will we see Scopefielder make his run of podiums become an elusive first win of the season?
BoyBetterKnowSB (Scott) had taken the lead of the Performance 1 title race after victory in Suzuka; he was being kept honest by AaronJSpence who sat just behind him in second place.
The Ferrari of SirSpud72 dominated qualifying, and took pole position ahead of ColinJ in the Red Bull, whilst a strong lap from Captain_Stiff in the Mercedes would set him up on row two on the supersoft tyres.
It was a disastrous start for championship leader Scott who starting well down the order, went deep into turn one and collided with Benjym214 and retired a few moments later. Whilst at the front, Spud had a poor getaway off the line, and by the end of the first sector had disappointingly dropped to sixth place. However, it was SkyZii who had a rocket of a start and muscled his way through into the lead by the end of the first lap. The Frenchman had the perfect launch off the line in the Sauber, and whilst others jostled for position he swiftly made his way through and led the field around the first laps.
Aaron and Craig8728 were both enjoying a close fight in the Haas cars as the two fought over fifth and sixth places after the pit-stops, whilst the likes of SJD and Mike went wheel-to-wheel for the final few points paying positions.
SkyZii had used the undercut to re-take the lead from Stiff, but the Mercedes proved too powerful for the French driver to keep behind and the two swapped positions again, SirSpud had been slowly making his way back through the pack after his slow start, and after dispatching SkyZii for second it supplied us with a fantastic battle with Stiff for the win in the final eight laps.
The two traded the lead numerous times in the final laps, but after a second three-second penalty was applied to Spud, he dropped off and it allowed Stiff to come home and pick up his second win of the season.
Spud maintained second, whilst ColinJ used an effective two stop strategy to finish on the podium, in the battle of the Haas’ it was Craig who crossed the line ahead of Aaron, but a pre-existing penalty from Japan for Craig would frustratingly drop him well down the order in his attempt to claw back some points in the title race.
Stiff returns to the top of the table with 30 points, with the top seven split by nine points.
In the constructor’s title race, Racing AaronStiff takes the lead in the standings after a disappointing outing for Know Nothing Racing for Craig and Scott who fall eleven points back.
Megglugpy had taken the last two wins in Spain and Japan and looking for the hat-trick in Austria, he would have to get it done in the considerably lower powered Sauber.
The qualifying session started in controversy as Wesleyvanrens stopped at the end of the pit-lane after a mix up in the garage and was subsequently disqualified from the session.
Out on track, high on confidence the session was ruled by Megglugpy, the Sauber driver put himself on pole, he was joined by the impressive Nitrogash in the Mercedes who was happy after his good performance in Japan last week to keep a strong pace.
Wesleyvanrens was due to start at the rear of the field due to his disqualification in the previous session, but this meant he would start on fresh tyres in a field of driver’s on used tyres, and using this advantage the Dutch driver quickly moved forward through the field in the early part of the race.
The Force India found his way to the front, and using good pace in the aerodynamically strong machine led the field around after jumping the leader Megglugpy, who looked to have settled for second.
It was a disaster for NickLJThomson, who had to make a second stop late in the race that dropped him way down the order and well out of contention for a good result, in what looked like a real blow to his attempts to keep pace with Megg.
Wesley would cross the line to the chequered flag, but penalties demoted him to second with Megglugpy able to overhaul the Force India and subsequently take home the coveted hat-trick of victories.
He takes a 13 point lead in the championship after Scopefielder was unable to make the grid, Wesley’s second puts him fourth in the title race, whilst Jos_Heinssie was happy to take the sister Sauber to a second podium of the season, but with Jos already 28 points behind Megg in the title race, the Dutchman has a lot of work to do to reel him in.
Wednesday night in F1 was the VSR_Odemz show, as the Irishman totally dominated both sessions by an alarming rate. The Haas driver set pole on the middle compound supersoft tyres almost half a second ahead of the nearest rival Jos_Heinssie in the Renault on the ultrasoft tyres.
This translated to race pace for Odemz, who after a good start ran away from the field and even on the two stop strategy was unable to be caught and in the process set the fastest lap of the race over one and half seconds faster than anyone else.
Controversy mired the mid-point of the race as Tombombtank, who had already been involved in a tense battle with Foxyred that had caught out an innocent WaveIntel, spun on the exit on turn one, and as he recovered Megglugpy was exiting turn one, and with Tom focused on turning around, drove into the Toro Rosso of Megg ending both driver’s races with terminal damage in a very messy showing for Tom in the Sauber.
Obviously spurred on after his mistake in Japan last week, Odemz strolled to the race victory in Austria by well over fifteen seconds, whilst behind the action was somewhat closer and with several drivers all in close quarters, it was a much feistier battle for the points. Nikki9095 continued his recovery run after not scoring in the opening two rounds, as the Red Bull driver made it into second ahead of Jos_Heinssie in third.
Point’s leader Scopefielder was absent for the race, and with the rest of the field able to make up ground, he now only owns a one point leader to Samuthepito, whilst it’s 15 points for Odemz as he looks to recover lost ground after a rocky start to the championship.
Scope will look to get back winning ways next week in Canada, but if Odemz is in the form that we saw on Wednesday then we may have some serious fireworks in store for round five.
After losing the lead in the championship to NickLJThomson last week, GooDStuff was desperate to have a good night in Austria. The Haas driver celebrated with team-mate GP1_Alex as they locked out the front row in a supreme showing for the American outfit.
Current leader Nick was only able to make it into fifth in the Ferrari, and sat six tenths off of his German rival GooDStuff as both knew that a good start would be crucial. It was contrasting starts for both Haas cars as GooDStuff launched perfectly off the line and left a big gap between himself and Alex in second, which was filled by the Red Bull of mj_coop, whilst RudiMandragorex somehow got his Sauber back on track after taking the inside line from fourth as he soared across the pack into turn one and somehow missed collecting the pole-sitter, as Rudi used the run off to cheekily recover to second ahead of coop.
Alex had a poor start from second and dropped to fifth and was subsequently under pressure from Nick, but with the retirement of Rudi moments later who seemed to cause his own incident promoted the field up one position.
From there GooDStuff protected his lead in the race, and slowly started pulling away from the field, and with mj_coop and Alex having to navigate a lot of traffic on different strategies, it only further allowed the leader to stretch his lead, and by the time the pit-stops had all taken effect he owned a lead of almost nine seconds and a clear track ahead.
Ferrari team-mates of Nick and Tony-Y had been given the all clear to fight and the two swapped positions for fifth and sixth on lap 28 of 36 as Nick recovered back to his starting position and what could be vital extra point come round twelve.
GooDStuff kept his lead over the final five laps and completed a dominant flag to flag victory, whilst mj_coop will be disappointed to drop behind Alex on penalties at the end of the race, as Alex made it a Haas one-two in Austria and the maximum 27 points for the constructors, who now take a commanding 18 point lead.
Winner GooDStuff returns to the top of the standings with a two point advantage heading to Canada, but with three podiums in four races mj_coop is not one to sleep on, the battle is only starting to heat up in F2.
FerociousDan had won last week in Suzuka, and in the process significantly closed the gap to surprise early leader Captain_Stiff, and with a track with a lap time fractionally over 65 seconds, it would be a fast and furious paced qualifying session.
That was only intensified with the threat of rain at the end of the session, and with cars flooding on track early, it was Dan who would set the fastest lap on the ultrasoft tyres, but with Booje and willo less than seven hundredths slower in second and third, the race was poised to be ultra-competitive.
Stiff had seen success on Tuesday night, and equally high confidence in Austria, put his car on row three on the supersoft tyres. As the session concluded in wet conditions the top six were split by a quarter of a second meaning the start would be huge for those using the purple walled ultrasoft tyres in what was looking to be a very competitive field.
A perfect start from Dan maintained his lead, but with Steelbl running into the side-pod of Booje into turn two, the Renault lost ground to McLaren allowing willo through. Steel struggling with a lack of downforce went wide at turn three, and with team-mate SnoopMarky then spinning from fourth, both Saubers went from a top five start to last in a blow to their constructors hopes.
Dan and willo looked on course to use the two stop strategy, whilst Booje and Stiff stuck to the one stop, and this provided real excitement with the two stoppers having to cut their way back through the field twice, and as the second stop for Dan and Willo brought them out fractionally behind the two Williams, the action would real start to intensify.
Dispatching Tejuarr on lap 25 both cars then set upon catching then second place Stiff, who finally relented to Dan on lap 29. However, willo would not fair as easily against his Williams counterpart who on older, harder tyres impressed by re-passing the Haas several times un-willing to give up the podium.
Willo finally prevailed on lap 31, but the battle had brought the flying Ferrari of xMIKExSI into the fray, as he desperately tried to find a way past the Williams in the closing laps.
Up at the front, Booje had driven a strong and commanding race after recovering well from his turn two incident, and with one lap remaining led by five seconds, but two early penalties proved to be his downfall as he was overhauled by Dan who took a second consecutive race win and the effective championship lead.
Stiff was able to fractionally keep Mike at bay as he picked up a third podium in four races due to multiple penalties demoting willo to seventh, and with team-mate Tejuarr in fifth, the Williams team keep up with McLaren in the constructors with the two split by two points, forty ahead of the rest of the pack.
Dan now owns a three point lead over Stiff heading to Canada, but Booje will bemoan his poor luck in rounds two and three as he sits on 27 points and sixteen off Dan. Can Dan extend his lead in Montreal or will we see the likes of Tejuarr, Willo or F1Richard try to make up lost ground to the leaders?
Next week we head to North America and the Canadian Grand Prix, with the infamous “Wall of Champions” an obstacle that has caught out many in it’s time, who can attack the track and leave Montreal with all 15 points. The conditions are always variable, so prepare for every eventuality! It could be our most exciting race yet!
Check out @InvictusRL for all stream links and details on next week’s racing