Invictus Racing League – Round nine in review – The season hots up in Mexico City!

 

 

 

Mexico City offers a unique driving experience for Formula One, add one of the longest straights on the calendar, a dash of high braking zones and a pinch of sweeping corners and you get the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

We’ve had nine rounds so far this season, and with three to go, the end to not only the season, but of Formula One 2018 is fast approaching.

Six races, three days and a plethora of action took place this week. Who could set themselves up for a late push towards championship glory, or could our point’s leaders hold onto top spot before we head to Belgium next week?

 

No – Assist

A number of new drivers made a late debut into the league, as we saw a surge of new talent take to the track looking to take the fight to the established stars in the no-assist league.

Two of those rookies coming in were that of F2 league driver’s white-fountain and xd_Archy who after joining the Force India team got out of circuit and immediately introduced themselves to the league in a big way.

The two saw a debut session finish with them sitting in second and third place respectively, and only being beaten by the returning Scopefielder the Force India’s were delighted with their pace around the hot Mexican circuit.

Scopefielder took pole, and after some time away managed to give himself the best seat in the house for the run to turn one, whilst BoyBetterKnowSB (Scott) finished in fourth and well ahead of current championship leader Samuthepito who could only qualify tenth for the Williams team.

However, after a superb start from the Force India’s they led the field away over the opening laps, and not until Scopefielder and Scott managed to pass them a third of the way into the race did white-fountain and xd_Archy look like they would be giving anyone an easy time, but after a lightning out-lap after his first pit-stop Scope was able to move past and in to a net lead.

Speed_Queen had a relatively quiet first stint, and as one of the only drivers to attempt the one-stop, she found herself at the front with 12 laps to go, but with Scope, Scott and the Force India’s chasing her down. It seemed only a matter of time before she would be demoted down the field.

The move for the lead happened on lap 28 as Scope breezed past Speed_Queen into turn one, and with Scott replicating the move two laps later, she fell into the clutches of the waiting white-fountain who duly dispatched her moments later.

The final laps saw Scott desperately try to make up time to Scope ahead, but it was to no avail as the returning Red Bull driver came home for the race victory.

It was a shock behind as Scott dramatically dropped off the podium after time penalties, and after being overtaken in the dying laps for second position, the Mercedes dropped back to fourth and with Speed_Queen fifth on circuit but with no penalties, she assumed a podium position in what was a coup for the Ferrari driver.

It was another superb race from Scope, which is something we’ve become accustomed too recently in Invictus. White-fountain impressed hugely in his debut, equally xd_archy although disappointed with fifth was running well until the final laps.

Scott takes the lead in the championship after Samuthepito could only come home sixth after a furious last lap battle with mdoran and Joel, and with Speed_Queen continuing her staggering run of top four finishes, all is to play for over the final three races.

 

Realistic Performance

Performance 1

Coming to Mexico, Realistic Performance 1 saw the battle between current champion SkyZii and AaronJSpence almost level, and with the in slower cars, it would open up the race to a new winner unless they could show some almighty pace.

Qualifying was under the hot Mexican sun, and with the softest compound tyres ‘Hypersoft’ available to the drivers, it was Tom (TL44S) who put his Renault on pole, ahead of the Sauber of Scott (BoyBetterKnowSB).

Championship contenders SkyZii and Aaron would line up seventh and ninth, whilst outside for the championship Captain_Stiff started outside of the top ten in eleventh.

The race started perfectly for Scott as he got ahead of Tom and controlled the first stint in the Sauber, although behind it was a disastrous start for Stiff, contact with Ben Muskett into turn two severely damaged his front wing and a pit-stop later and he was 40 seconds down on the rest of the field.

Tonn Albanach (WaveIntel) had endured a season to forget in Performance 1 this calendar, and after becoming used to podium finishes, the Scotsman hasn’t found any rhythym so far this season and languishes way down the order. His day wasn’t to get any better after starting in third, and overheating the tyres on his Toro Rosso, Tonn spun three times in one lap on the way to an early retirement.

Blue skies had turned grey, and the threat of a brief rain shower came across the airwaves of each driver. The rain began on lap 20 and with several drivers trying to brave it on worn tyres, the elements quickly turned against them and they dived into the pit-lane.

This is where chaos begain for the Sauber team, who fell foul of the dreaded pit-lane stall glitch as SkyZii found himself held and thus stuck in his pit-box. This not only affected the fifth place man, but race leader Scott one lap later who was equally caught and subsequently forced to retire.

The two Saubers suddenly opened up the race to the rest of the field, and it was Tom who was able to make use of the Sauber’s woes, as the Renault came across the line and took a jubilant first victory in the performance league. Ben Muskett followed him home three seconds off the leader, whilst it was a welcome return to the podium for Craig8728 as the Scot drove a magnificent race from tenth to a podium.

It was a poor race for Aaron and Stiff who could only manage seventh and eighth, with Stiff slightly ahead. The two even came into contact under the wet weather, but with SkyZii dropping points, Aaron maintains his lead in RP1. Equally, Racing AaronStiff build their lead at the top of the constructors after Tonn’s retirement.

We go to round ten next week with the championship wide open, can Aaron stretch his lead more or will SkyZii, Stiff or even Scott look for a late challenge?

 

Performance 2

Megglugpy had started the first half the season in red-hot fashion taking three wins, and one second place. But, a fifth in Britain, followed up by a retirement in Australia had opened the door for the likes of NickLJThomson and Jos Heinssie for a late push at championship glory.

Megg had been looking at getting his performances back on track, and a pole position in Mexico was just the way to do it! The McLaren swept across the sunny Mexican circuit and stole pole from Nick at the death of qualifying and made it a scintillating front row.

Scopefielder lined up third, and after his exploits on Monday would be high on confidence, whilst mj_coop in fourth gave himself a good shot at finally ending what has been a torrid season for the Englishman.

Nick got the jump of Megg into turn one, and over the first stint built a comfortable three-second lead. It was mj_coop who had made moves on the field, and using the one-stop strategy he stayed well-away from any potential battles until late in the race. This meant he was able to get his head down and put in fast laps, knowing that after his pit-stop others around him would be much quicker.

Lap 14 saw a turn in the race for Jos, after looking strong in the early stages; the Williams got out of shape exiting turn six and hit the retaining wall. This allowed Megg, Scope to stay clear of the Dutchman, whilst NickLJThomson used Jos’ lack of downforce to scythe past into turn one.

Mj_coop had made his stop, and seemed to be enjoying his time in Mexico as he caught and passed Nick for the lead on lap 23 with Nick coming in for his final stop a few laps later. Coop then enjoyed huge gap over his rivals, with the Force India circulating six seconds ahead of Nitrogash in the Ferrari and well over twenty seconds ahead of F1MrP80 who was currently holding down third in the sister Force India.

That was all to change however in what was a vicious battle for position. MrP seemed to be relentless in his attempts at holding the podium position, and engaged in a titanic battle with Megglugpy, Scopefielder, Jos and Nick. Megg was the first to catch the Force India, and with the two having a duel on track which saw the both on numerous occasions dive and bang wheels in a very fiery affair.

The action almost boiled over on the main straight with five laps remaining, Megg had made his way past MrP, but with DRS and overtake mode activated the Force India looked at coming back at McLaren but in the process almost ran Nick into the wall and then off-track at turn one in what would have been an incredibly dangerous accident for all involved.

Mj_coop stayed well ahead of all the commotion behind, and finally broke his duck and took the chequered flag, it was an absolutely dominant performance from coop who was delighted to take the win. Nitro made it another podium finish, whilst Scopefielder was the on the final podium step in third.

MrP managed to jump Megg on penalties, which will irk the championship leader, although with Jos crashing out late into the race and Nick suffering a post-race DSQ for track infringements it turned into a better day for the McLaren than first thought.

The stewards didn’t take too kindly to the battle between both Mr P and Megg, both received reprimands for their actions, with Mr P’s upgraded to an official warning after his transgressions with Scopefielder earlier in the race.

It was a dream race for mj_coop who was elated to take the victory, while Nitro took his best result of the season, and third podium in nine races.

Using Nick and Jos’ no-point scoring, Scope now assumes second in the championship and looks up at Megg with a twelve point gap between the two. He has three races to close that gap, is it now a two-horse race or will we see more twists in the tale of RP2 this season?

 

Equal Performance 

F1

You never know what you’re going to get in F1, but this week we saw a masterclass from Marqueses as he dominated the race in Mexico.

He didn’t have it all his own way in qualifying after being pushed all the way by Williams driver A_Singh99 with the two split by 0.05 of a second at the end of the 18 minute session.

Although it’s Scopefielder who leads the way in F1 currently, and the Swede kept up the pressure after missing the last two races by putting his Renault on the second row, over half a second ahead of Ben Muskett in the Ferrari.

In his first season of F1, Megglugpy has been impressive and has finished on the podium three times already this season, but starting in tenth, the Red Bull would have to do a lot of move up through the field.

Blue skies were clouded throughout the majority of the race, but that didn’t stop the field from enjoying what was a competitive race across the group of twelve on track.

Marqueses drove an impeccable race start-to-finish, and even with an extra pit-stop was able to overhaul the rest of the field pack and come home for a first win in F1 this season, after mistakes in races earlier this season that cost him potential wins, he was happy to finally come across the line to the ticker tape and coloured flares in the old baseball stadium and crossed the line first.

Second was a delighted Megglugpy, who after starting tenth drove a tactical and measured race, making sure that the one-stop would see him through to the end in Mexico City, whilst Scopefielder made it a third podium of the week in third place.

Scope’s lead at the helm of F1 is cut marginally by Megg who now sits in third, but with Nikki9095 only able to manage sixth it was a good result for Scope who now owns a 15 point lead over his title rivals heading to Spa-Francorchamps next week.

 

 

 

F2

The top of the standings in F2 this season has been anything but stable as the lead has changed seemingly race-to-race for the past five races.

GooDStuff, mj_coop and NickLJThomson all seemed to be vying over the F2 title, but with four races left of the season and the three split by fractional points difference, every point in the final races could prove crucial.

It was damp and drizzly conditions for qualifying and it certainly upset several drivers who had already set the car up to run in the dry, the field saw a number of drivers struggling with the likes of mj_coop way down the order in ninth place.

However it was the Belgian driver white-fountain who after impressing on Monday, took pole position in the Renault, over six tenths of a second ahead of Nick in second.

RudiMandragorex had another good qualifying and would line up third and he was accompanied by GooDStuff with the German hoping to make up for the last two races which saw him lose the title lead and drop behind.

A super start for pole-sitter white-fountain saw him fire away off the line and within three laps already hold a two second lead over Nick, who after briefly dropping to third managed to make it back up into his starting position.

It took until lap 12 for a swap for the lead, and with white-fountain on much more worn tyres than Nick, the Ferrari driver was able to pass for the lead into turn six and move ahead over the next laps.

Lap 15 saw white-fountain make his stop, and that released the top three in the championship into the provisional podium places, and with Nick, coop and GooDStuff all following each other, all eyes were on to see if fireworks would start.

All race long we saw drivers struggling with high tyre wear, and thus overheating issues and one of the main culprits was mj_coop who was really struggling with rear end grip in the Red Bull, and with the top three all tyre saving, the battle was mainly neutralised.

Nick led with five laps remaining, but with second to fifth split by less than four seconds, he knew that one mistake could spell the end for his chance at making it a hat-trick of wins.

Mj_coop had looked at a thirteen lap stint on the hypersofts, but with two laps remaining the Red Bull pitted after losing several positions struggling with the tyre temperatures. This really alleviated any pressure on Nick who came across the line to make it three in three.

Humbostone had seemingly had a quiet race, but made his way into second after late moves past GooDStuff and coop, but crossing the line dropped to third behind white-fountain, with the Belgian using his two-stop strategy and clean racing to jump GoodStuff and Humbo into second.

It was a day to remember for Nick who makes it three races in a row on the top step, after two poor races earlier in the season he has recovered remarkably and now leads the way by fourteen points to mj_coop, who in contrast will look to move on quickly from Mexico after a DSQ for track infringements had made his challenge for the title that little but harder.

 

F3

It’s been a strange season in F3 this season, we’ve seen some epic racing, intense battles and surprise winners. However, looking at how Mexico turned out really emphasised the mantra for not giving up.

Captain_Stiff had led the field coming to Mexico, and with Williams team-mate Tejuarr in-tow, the two have built a lead in the constructor’s championship. However since a slow start xMIKExSI has been “Mr Consistent” and has been in the top four over the past five races.

FerociousDan was looking to be Stiffs main rival, but after a retirement in Australia, his gap to the leader became a little harder to bridge.

However, at the end of F3 qualifying it was the pair of Mike and Dan who would share the front row, and with the likes of Nitrogash and osteven putting in excellent laps to start on the second row, it seemed that we could be in-store for a very interesting race.

Championship leader Stiff had looked to the radar before qualifying, and seeing that it was due to rain for the entirety of the race, a wet set-up was added to the car and therefore the lack of speed, saw him at the back and 2.5s off the pace.

As predicted it was a wet start for the race, and with intermediates the tyre of choice it was a nervy start for the field as they cautiously made their way around lap one. It was a dream start for Steven who had the perfect release off the line for the Force India as he muscled his way into second into turn two.

It was also a good start for Stiff who after starting twelfth found himself in sixth by lap three and all over the gearbox of F1Richard and after dropping behind Briggsy briefly, the two cleared Richard, but with Briggsy making a daring move on Nitro, Stiff was able to make a sublime move around the outside of the stadium section and then quickly past Nitrogash as the Williams found himself in fourth.

It seemed the majority of the field were planning on the two-stop strategy, but Mike and Stiff had other ideas and using the fresh track ahead were able to look after their tyres and with Stiff making a move into second on lap 14, he then set upon catching up the fourteen second gap to Mike.

He cut that to seven seconds over the next six laps, and with Mike pitting on lap 19 and Stiff on lap 21, somehow Stiff appeared only four seconds off of the Ferrari. The two knew they had the advantage on the now leader osteven and FerociousDan who would need to pit again, and by lap 26 the two were set free back into the top two places.

Stiff, knowing he was sitting on a three-second penalty then chased down the Slovenian, and finally on lap 31 made a brave lunge into turn one, knowing that Mike wouldn’t give any quarter in battle.

Behind, there was an excellent battle between osteven and Dan who appeared to have been joined by the hip all race long. The sleeper driver for the race was that of SnoopMarky, last week’s race winner had a spin on lap one, and after recovering through the field somehow found himself in third position and comfortably ahead of Nitro in fourth.

Stiff crossed the line and took home a third win of the season, and with that made it 42 points from 45 since the mid-season break. Mike dropped off in the final lap but picked up a best result of the season in second, whilst Snoop added to his increasing points tally in third.

A post-race penalty for Briggsy after a collision with Nitrogash demoted him from fourth to sixth, this promoted Nitro into a best of the season fourth. Whilst it was another poor race for Dan, who dropped to eighth after a fun battle with Steven saw the two get tangled and both lose time.

Stiff now sits upon a 21 point lead in F3, and with races running out can anyone catch the Williams in his breakout season. This could be one of the most impressive turnarounds for a driver, but can Stiff close it out. Mike and Snoop are now 21 and 28 points adrift, but one DNF for either of them could blow the championship wide open.

 

Join us this week for round ten of the Invictus Racing League championship as we blast through the Ardennes Forest at the iconic circuit of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.

Gareth Hall

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