After the teams enjoyed a one week break, it was back to action on track for Invictus Racing League as the teams arrived in Shanghai for the Chinese Grand Prix.
Often a track which provides several spots for over-taking, the Shanghai International Circuit punishes the tyres and meant that set-up and strategy would play a crucial part in the results at the end of the week.
There are six rounds left in the six championships and with plenty of points left on the table, who would be the first to lay down a marker for the second half of the season?
Current points leader Samuthepito was absent from the race in China this week, but with a comfortable gap back to the likes of Speed_Queen and BoyBetterKnowSB (Scott), even with a win for either, the Spaniards lead would be unaffected leaving China.
Qualifying saw a number of drivers struggling for grip, and with the likes of Phil_mcfc, Speed_Queen and Humbostone all struggling early on in the session, it allowed the Renault of Gavpig to set a provisional pole time on the ultra-soft tyre compound.
The rest of the field opted for the harder yellow soft tyre compound, and whilst Gav was unable to improve his pole time, the front row would become incredibly close. This was due to an outstanding lap from GP1_Alex as the Sauber put himself into P2 on the grid with a time one thousandth of a second slower than Gav.
It was an incredible end to qualifying, whilst Scott would be joined by Humbostone as they made up row two as he looked to take advantage of Speed_Queens mediocre session after she placed her #58 Ferrari in sixth behind the second Mercedes of Joel-V520.
Gavpig was unable to make the start due to a power issue, and in-turn would give Alex a free run down to turn one, and with the cars all seemingly getting a clean getaway, it was Joel who had a rocket of a start as he moved from fifth into second and passed his team-mate into turn two.
Lap four had seen Scott move back ahead of Joel and challenge for the lead, and after a side-by-side battle for a number of corners, the Mercedes moved into the lead of the race for the first time. Alex then started to struggle in the pack behind as he was quickly passed by Joel and then had to deal with constant pressure from Speed_Queen over the next four laps as he admirably kept her behind.
As the pit-windows opened it allowed the runners of the soft compound to pit, and as the only driver not to set a time Phil_mcfc had made superb progress in the first stint on the medium compound, and as we arrived at lap 18 he came out onto the track on the softer and faster soft compound, and would then engage in an epic fight with Scott for the lead of the race for the next eleven laps.
In the race for third, there was a four car battle between Joe, Speed_Queen, Nikki and Alex who were all eyeing up a podium position, and after an audacious move past two cars into the turn fourteen hairpin, Alex was able to move back up into third, whilst the two Ferraris and Mercedes of Joel kept up the pressure behind.
Phil was really struggling with the stewards as he was slapped with not only two-track extension penalties, but a pit-lane speeding penalty from a few laps previously had seemingly gifted Scott the race victory, and even as the two swapped places numerous times in the closing laps, Scott was able to come across the line first and won his third race of the season after a titanic battle with Phil.
Phil would devastatingly drop off of the podium after the post –race penalties were administered which promoted a delighted Nikki9095 into second, whilst Alex was able to salvage a podium after losing out to Nikki late on in the race for what was then third place.
Scott took the full complement of 15 points, and in turn closes the gap to Sam massively, but with Speed_Queen not far behind, it’s apparent the championship is only going to get hotter as we move to Australia next week.
Due to PSN issue on the evening of the race, both Performance leagues were postponed and will be run the week after the main calendar ends, we are anticipating a race on Tuesday 28th May 2019.
Scopefielder leads the way in F1, and missing the race on Wednesday would see his lead cut slightly as his opponents look to make ground on him coming into the second half of the season.
Highly touted driver NPyne_35 was making his debut in China, and after a slick qualifying session from the Scot saw him take a front row position in second in the McLaren there were some eyebrows raised that we may be seeing a new threat for race victories this season.
However it was celebrations in the Toro Rosso garage for Megglugpy who took home pole position ahead of NPyne, whilst Jos was able to make it onto the second row in third and with current second placed man Nikki9095 only able to qualify eighth, the likes of mdoran, TonnAlbanach (Formely WaveIntel) and Megg would all be looking at taking points away from the Red Bull driver.
It was a disastrous start for Megglugpy as he ran wide into turn one and dropped to the rear of the field, this allowed the McLaren of NPyne to soar down the inside and take turn three unchallenged as he led the field away over the first lap.
He was kept honest in the opening laps by Jos as the Renault looked to challenge for the lead, but as the laps increased Jos was frustratingly unable to get close enough to challenge the leader. The two started dropping the rest of the field at a rate of knots, and by lap ten already enjoyed a six second lead back to xd_Archy in third and an even bigger lead back to the rest of the pack.
Megglugpy had been on the fightback since his first lap excursion and by lap eleven moved into sixth as he moved by Tonn, and with points on his mind closed up to the rear end of the Sauber of mdoran and after Megg made a stop on lap 12 his one lap undercut on the drivers ahead meant he fractionally beat the Sauber out of the pit-lane as the undercut strategy worked perfectly.
NPyne made his stop and controlled the race across the final portion of the race as he came across the line to take race victory on debut for the McLaren. It was a sizable eight second gap back to Jos who seemingly couldn’t keep up with the McLaren on the medium compound.
In slight redemption a fantastic race from Megglugpy saw him move into a podium place and finishing in third he would regret his first lap mistake which made every think what could have been if he could have gone with NPyne for the race victory.
Megg moved level with Samuthepito on 44 points, whilst a late retirement from mdoran holds him back in the attempt to claw back ground on the top three. Nikki9095 had a quiet race to come home fifth, and the six points mean he now sits 12 behind Scopefielder as the league prepares to ehad down under. Can anyone catch Scope, and can NPyne continue his winning form next week after starting the league in such dominant fashion?
The F2 season so far has seen three leaders in GooDStuff, NickLJThomson and mj_coop, and with the three drivers having shared five of the first six race wins; they enjoyed breathing space over the tight battle in the table from fourth to seventh.
GooDStuff had gone back to the top after winning in Silverstone, whilst Nick dropped a huge amount of ground due to a disqualification in the race, whilst mj_coop struggled to keep the Red Bull on track and could only pick up sixth. The battle between the top three has been fascinating all season long so far and doesn’t look to be slowing any time soon.
That proved to be the case in China as we saw more twists and turns in the F2 story, and with mj_coop taking a blistering pole position, he gave himself the best confidence boost heading into the race. It was F2 debutant and recent F3 call-up ColoMan who after taking two wins in F3 previously introduced himself to the grid by a front row start as Red Bull locked out the top end of the grid.
Nick would line up third alongside GP1 Alex who after his good run on Monday looked to have another strong result in F2. It wasn’t as good fortune for GooDStuff as the German only managed eighth in the Haas and with a lot of work to do during the race.
The race was a masterclass of close quarters driving as Nick made his way up into second ahead of Colo and challenged coop for the lead, the two enjoyed a supreme fight, and with a bad night for GooDStuff becoming even worse, he crashed out in the early stages.
GP1 Alex hadn’t given up the idea of a fight for the lead, but coop somehow managed to keep both behind until the penultimate lap where Nick was able to make a daring move into the hairpin, and with one lap left it was heartbreak for coop who wouldn’t force a way back past.
Nick crossed the line first and vanquished the bad luck which saw him pick up zero points from the previous two rounds. He moved up to within three points of second, whilst mj_coop reassumes the lead but with a much healthier ten point advantage of GooDStuff.
As mentioned previously , it’s a seismic battle for fourth currently as white-fountainn,Nismax, Humbstone and now GP1 Alex are split by less than four points with five rounds remaining.
It looks to be a three car fight for the F2 title this season, but we’ve seen the lead change so much, who knows where it will be by Monza at the close of the calendar!
Similarly to F2, the F3 league is enjoying a fun battle at the top with Captain_Stiff and FerociousDan fighting for top spot in the title-race. The two have both tasted victory this season, and with six races left in the season, the two are evenly matched. It has been a somewhat successful season for both drivers as they finished last season joint on 49 points, so for both have almost surpassed that by round six is an achievement to applaud.
Qualifying was blitzed by the McLaren of FerociousDan, as he set a great lap on the ultra-soft tyre comfortably ahead of Briggsy who was unable to make the start after his good front row qualifying session. While behind, it was a super session for the likes of DanielFN (formely DboyDan) Osteven and Nitrogash as they all produced their best qualifying efforts to line up inside the top five.
Stiff managed to get himself inside the top ten on the medium compound with a time only fractionally off the faster soft compound runners as he showed that he would possibly be a threat late in the race.
It was a great start for Tejuarr as the Williams driver launched perfectly off the line, and scythed his way from sixth on the grid to second as he looked to challenge Dan, with the collision in Silverstone not long in the memory of either. His team-mate Stiff had also started really well and by the end of the first lap was already into sixth.
It had been a solid start for both osteven and Nitrogash, but with Stiff closing in on the pair, Nitrogash made an error at turn thirteen as he lost the rear end of the Red Bull and after hitting the grass started to spin back across the track directly into the path of the unfortunate DanielFN who took the full force of the accident ending both drivers races, somehow the two were missed by F1Richard who kept the pedal down as he just missed being caught up in the crash.
This brought out the safety car, and very early on brought amongst others, FerociousDan into the pit-lane to remove the ultra-soft tyres. This promoted SnoopMarky into the lead, whilst Stiff had made it into second on the medium tyres.
After the safety car period it was Stiff and Snoop who would fight over the lead, and on lap ten the Williams made the move into the hairpin and took to the lead for the first time, but with FerociousDan now locked into a two-stop strategy, the fight would inevitably come down to an on-track battle.
Stiff led the field away until his stop on lap 16, but as he reappeared behind SnoopMarky the fresher and faster soft compound allowed the Williams to cruise up to the Sauber and with Dan’s second stop made on lap 17 the two would fight over the effective lead.
It was a mirror manoeuvre behind as Tejuarr and Steelbl66 in the second Williams and Sauber cars were engaged in a fantastic battle in seventh and eighth with the both not giving any quarter in the fight.
Controversy mired the 18th lap as Stiff and Snoop fought over second on track, but with Stiff looking like he had the move made heading around turn seven, the two came into contact which spun the Williams into the gravel and down to fifth position. Snoop was able to recover and held onto the effective lead of the race but having a lost a couple of seconds to the likes of Dan and Mike behind.
This seemed to fire up Stiff who for the final ten laps was a man on a mission and in the next five laps passed both Notorious and Mike to move back up into second and firmly set his eyes on championship challenger Dan who had a three-second lead.
It was lap 25 when Stiff caught Dan, and after the two swapped positions twice over lap 24 and 25, Stiff was finally able make use of a mistake from Dan into turn one as he took the lead and pulled away from his McLaren rival.
After a second pit-stop had dropped him back to ninth, Snoop had done well to recover back to sixth, but with Tejuarr ahead the Williams driver made his car as wide as possible and halted Snoops charge, the battle for the midfield had really intensified, and with fifth to ninth all split by three seconds it was a close end to the race.
Stiff crossed the line almost four seconds ahead of Dan after a truly dominant display in China, after recovering from the spin he was able to close down and pass his championship rivals, and with xMIKExSI picking up another third placed finish the top three in F3 all stood on the podium.
Credit goes to Notorious who came home fourth in a much more positive result for the Irishman, whilst it was disappointment for osteven who looked so promising for a good result. The late pit-stop allowed the field to catch the Force India and even with fresh tyres he was unable to hold onto position as he eventually came home ninth.
Stiff adds to his lead in F3 and it now stands at seven points back to Dan, whilst Mike is fourteen off the leader, but with at least eight drivers in F3 all potential podium placers F3 is competitive as ever.
Join us in Albert Park, Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix this week. The eighth round of the league calendar is a circuit which punishes mistakes and is notoriously hard to over-take around. Who can produce a bonza lap around the street circuit and give themselves the advantage for the race?