Pre–season kicked off on Monday night at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, USA. The circuit opened in 2012 and was the first purpose built race track for Formula One, it entails a tricky first sector, fast second sector and fun corners in the third sector that promote close racing and over-taking. Invictus Racing League were here only a few weeks ago for round eleven of season six, which meant there would be no excuses for poor form from the experienced drivers.
This season see’s a lot of returning driver’s to the league with a good amount of Invictus rookies join the field to add that element of the unknown back into the leagues.
The No-assist league as always opened the new season, it was debutante OnyxMer who took the pole with a blisteringly fast time, but he would be kept on his toes by both the Force India’s of BoyBetterKnowSB (Scott) and RickWR88.
Reigning overall champion Speed_Queen80 and tier 2 (racing line on) champion Scopefielder would struggle during qualifying and would line up eighth and ninth respectively.
The race saw a superb battle between OnyxMer and Scopefielder unfortunately ended after the debuting Dutch driver spun on turn two. This left Scopefielder chasing down race leader Scott in the final laps. Scott was able to keep the Swedish driver behind him in the final laps as he used his much better straight line speed to keep ahead of the quick cornering Renault.
They would come across the line with Scott taking the victory by 0.422 of a second, made slightly more open by a post-race three second penalty added to Scope’s time.
The battle for the podium equally went to the wire as Speed_Queen just missed out on a third place finish with Delange93 staying above the incumbent champion by another 0.4s margin. SJD had finished third on track but after the stewards disagreed with his idea of the track layout he was relegated back to seventh.
It was a good win for Scott who starts off pre-season with a hard-fought victory. Can he be the one who takes the fight to Speed_Queen this season and be the first in a while to de-throne her?
A new paddock of drivers makes up Performance 1 this season, with a mix of youth and experience; almost all drivers have stood on the podium in their time at Invictus.
Pre-season is a crucial time for the performance league, it allows the admin team the perfect chance to look at driver’s pace in the attempt of placing them into the correct car for the next race. This meant pre-season would be run using equal-performance and it would be a straight between all for the top-step of the podium.
Benjym214 took the advantage as he planted himself on pole for the race, whilst drivers such as debutante LoZac97 who had shown much promise in out of season testing would also have a strong session.
WaveIntel missed out on retaining his Performance League 2 championship last season by a few points, but he would start off pre-season in the best way possible as he crossed the line to finish first at the end of a race which saw close action throughout the midfield.
AaronJSpence and ColinJ both suffered early exits with trips to the wall in the first sector in the opening laps; the two will certainly look to have a more positive race in Hungary next week.
WaveIntel was followed home by LoZac97 as he kept the Scottish driver honest in the final laps, and Betrayer46 who seems to be joined by a short rope to WaveIntel with the two continuing their season’s long battle.
Due to absences, Performance 2 only saw nine drivers take to the track on Tuesday for pre-season. There os plenty of talent in the league this season and along with Performance 1, the realistic performance leagues are looking absolutely stacked this season.
NickLJThomson opened up his account with pole position in the Alfa Romeo Sauber and looked strong in the early stages of the race. However, it wasn’t to be for the British driver who lost the lead of the race to Jos_Heinssie. The Dutch driver is no stranger to the podium and once again took to the top step at the culmination of the race; he benefited from passing Nick and The-Warislander having a poor race to move up from third on the grid and in the process took the advantage heading into Hungary.
Nick would ultimately end up in second, whilst third was taken by Megglugpy. There is a plethora of talent in the league this season so this looks like anyone’s guess to who will take the win each week.
F1 is looking stacked with talent this season; the grid is looking full of drivers who can make a real challenge at the title come the end of the season. A number of drivers have been promoted from F2 after last season and they join the newcomers and experienced F1 drivers such as Speed_Queen80 and Nikki9095.
One of those promoted drivers was WaveIntel, and fresh off of his win in the performance league last night he took pole by 15 thousandths of a second to what is looking like multi league rival LoZac97. The two were not alone with quick times as both Danestar_51 and mdoran09 sat less than .2 of a second behind the pole-sitter and made it an exciting looking grid for pre-season one.
It would turn into a fantastic week for WaveIntel who went from flag to flag and took a first win in F1 albeit pre-season, nether less he beat several experienced top tier drivers. The young Scottish driver will be delighted with his weeks return and will be cautiously hoping to move this good form he’s been in recently into the season.
Mdoran09 and Benjym219 made up the rest of the podium with the latter moving up from 12th on the grid to take an unlikely podium.
F1 started off with a great race in pre-season and that only waters the mouth ready for next week in Hungary. Can WaveIntel take another step towards being a real contender for the top title and finally end his hoodoo of finishing behind Betrayer46 in the equal league standings.
A new landscape in F2 sees a multitude of challengers all vying over the now vacant title. The previous champion Betrayer46 is now in F1 and has left a group of hungry driver’s all wanting to take away the F2 championship after we leave Monza in round 12.
Qualifying saw a superb battle between mj_coop and rookie driver Nismax7 with the two battling over provisional pole. NeverMiss00 had attempted to interject himself into the fight for pole but eventually it was Nismax who snatched pole with a late lap to demote coop into second.
Coop would beat nismax off the line, and in the early laps a six car fight for the lead opened up but after contact between Jamie_6328 and Humbostone caused the latter to retirem, it would put the focus back on leader coop who was battling bravely to keep Nismax7 and NickLJThomson behind.
It wasn’t to be for the British driver as he suffered a DRS failure and struggled to keep the field at bay, he came into slight contact with Jamie after running deep into turn 8 which gave NickLJT the impetus to push on as he used the following laps to pass the two drivers ahead.
Nick would go on to win the race and take the first major mental advantage over the rest of the field heading to Hungary. Coop would finish in second on track but was relegated to third after stewards awarded a post-race track limit penalty. Nismax was the beneficiary of the stewards rulings for the majority of the top five as he saw a fifth place finish become second as the South African driver took a debut podium in F2.
Nick will be happy to come away with the win but has plenty of competition moving across to Europe for pre-season race two. Special mention goes to White-Fountain who on debut made a superb strategy work as he went from a 14th place start to finishing just off the podium in fourth.
The F3 looks wide open this season, and with the grid full of drivers that are more than capable of a championship challenge, it would be a very interesting pre-season.
Even with a number of driver’s missing the race, the qualifying session saw one of our closest finishes in several seasons with pole position taken by debutant the_willo97 by five thousandths of a second, edging out the Renault of Booje89 by the smallest of margins.
The race saw a chaotic start after contact from SteelBL66 and F1Richard67 into turn one on the front runners caused several drivers to collect wing damage. The drama continued into turn two as the Toro Rosso of rookie driver DboyDan22 speared into Captain_Stiff putting the Williams driver in the wall and out of the race before the third corner.
The battle for the top three positions raged in the early stages, with FerociousDan and Booje trading places lap upon lap for the lead. F1Richard67 had caught up after some superb early pace, and with one use of the DRS zone on lap seven moved past both cars ahead to take the lead.
Disappointingly for Richard, he would eventually drop out of the session and down the order which promoted Dan back into the lead, and after a much stronger start to the second stint he pulled away from Booje and finished the race with a lead of eight seconds over the Renault who took home second.
Pole-sitter the_willo97 made a fantastic recovery after an early incident saw him require a new wing and drop to the back as he fought through the order and came home for a debut podium.
It was a dominant start for Dan who was almost untouchable after the pit-stops, but his team-mate will be looking at a good result next week as the two battle for team supremacy, and with a number of drivers returning F3 could be anyone’s to win!