Barcelona was host to round two of the Invictus Racing League calendar, the track is a tricky mix of fast flowing and high downforce corners with over-taking positions limited.
The race hasn’t featured on the Invictus calendar since the opening round of season five so it would give the driver’s some homework to do before the race week to find the optimum pace come the pit-lane light flashing green.
The track sees two DRS zones which offer the best over-taking opportunities, but with the chance of rain always present in Barcelona, could it come into play during the week?
After his victory last week BoyBetterKnowSB (Scott) was eyeing up a second consecutive race victory in the no-assist league, but with blue skies for the qualifying but the prospect of a wet start to the race, it certainly made qualifying a very important session.
Humbostone was the man on form in qualifying; he would eventually place his Haas on pole position alongside the Red Bull of Scopefielder as both driver’s looked to kick-start their season. The Mercedes of Scott and team-mate Joel seemed to have a shocker of a session with both cars qualifying well outside of the top ten, and with track position highly sought after in Spain. It would be a tricky race for the Brackley team.
The rain was drizzling down as the lights went out to start Grand Prix, it was a worst case scenario for both SJD and Samuthepito as jump starts would mean an early drive through penalties for the pair.
Humbostone lost ground off the start and almost collected the rear end of Scopefielder into turn one, the grid struggled in the damp and greasy conditions early on, but with the clouds breaking and the rain starting to dissipate, it would become a game of bravery to when the crossover period was going to strike.
Whilst others struggled on the dry tyres initially, Samuthepito made perfect use of the drying track on the medium tyres, he scythed his way through the field from seventh and into the effective lead of the race, the Spanish driver on his home circuit was looking almost invincible, but a late strategy call from the Williams pit-wall would cause upset in the garage post-race.
Sam was called in with eight laps remaining for a fresh set of soft tyres, but with the top three of Scopefielder, Scott and Speed_Queen all staying out for the duration of the race, it seemed Williams had cost the Spaniard a home race victory.
Scopefielder led the race with five laps remaining, but Scott had made superb progress through the field, and with two laps remaining made his move for the lead of the race. It appeared both cars were running low on tyre grip, but Scott was able to hold off the Swedish driver for the final lap, he would cross the line to take a second win on the bounce and add another fifteen points in the championship.
The podium was rounded off by Scopefielder and Speed_Queen, whilst a late fight back from Samuthepito saw him claw back over thirteen seconds after his late stop but would finish just off the podium in fourth.
Scott maintains his lead in the title, but with a train of cars lining up behind him, it’ll all be to play for in Suzuka next week.
After last week’s blitz in Bahrain for Captain_Stiff, his team-mate AaronJSpence was the man of the night around the Catalonian circuit.
The Red Bull driver dominated the qualifying session setting several provisional pole lap times to keep the Irishman Fascone at bay, whilst reigning champion SkyZii managed to place his McLaren on row two in fourth, as he looked to recover after a disappointing start to the season last week.
It was a stark contrast for last week’s top three as BoyBetterKnow, Stiff and Craig all lined up alongside each other, but this time it would be from eleventh to thirteenth.
As the lights went out, Aaron certainly looked confident and was edging out a gap to Fascone in second, but the battle behind for several positions was intense, the track which is often hard to over-take on certainly didn’t halt the progress for many of the Performance 1 drivers as Betrayer, WaveIntel and Benjym all made moves early into the race.
There was a wash of different strategies in the early stage of the race, with several drivers on the medium tyres that had started outside of the top ten, such as Stiff, Craig8728 and xMIKExSI moving through the field, it would mean they would have much better pace later in the race.
The pit-stops saw Fascone try the under-cut on Aaron, however a miscalculation from the pit-wall saw him re-appear into heavy traffic, whilst a lap later Aaron used his five second advantage to come out in second behind team-mate Stiff, who smartly let him by. Aaron would control the race from there and stretch a lead out to thirteen seconds before the end of the race.
The action behind the leaders was frenetic; we saw a seven car battle from lap 26 to lap 30 with several cars swapping positions from fifth all the way down to twelfth on the line. Last week’s winner Stiff had already had one trip into the gravel on lap 19, but one final mistake on lap 31 would drop him out of the points and ultimately give up the lead in the young championship.
Aaron would come across the line and take victory in Spain and make it two wins in two for the Racing AaronStiff team as they go joint top with Know Nothing Racing on 30 points at the top of the constructors.
Fascone would finish second in a welcome return to the podium, whilst SkyZii will be delighted to be back on the podium again, although that race victory still eludes the French driver.
Craig8728 benefited from Stiff’s mistake for a comfortable run fourth place, which means the Scot takes control in the driver standings with a five point advantage over both Aaron and Stiff as we head to Suzuka.
Swedish driver Scopefielder started off his defence of the Performance 2 title in strong fashion last week after victory in Bahrain, but with a much different test in Barcelona this week, he would certainly have to pull out all the stops.
Megglugpy had somewhat of a quiet start to his season after finishing eighth last week, but after a superb lap in qualifying, the English driver would put himself in prime place with pole position.
He was joined on the front row by the impressive F1_MrP80 in the Renault, who after retiring in round one was on the lookout for a good points haul to help PB Racing in the constructors’ championship.
The race saw a fantastic five car battle in the mid-point of the race, but it was Megglugpy who would make the most of the free track ahead of him as he came home in the Haas to take the win in Spain.
Scopefielder will be happy with a good nights work as he moved up from third to second after MrP unfortunately dropped way down the order and eventually finished one minute off the lead. This ensured Scope extends his lead at the top of the table to nine points.
They were joined on the podium by Jos_Heinssie, as Kamikaze F1 stretched out a fifteen point gap over BS Racing and Megacoop Racing in the constructor’s table. The two are already reigning champions and have definitely started where they left off from lasts season.
It’s onto Japan next week, will Scope continue to build a lead out over his rivals, or will the likes of Megglugpy, NickLJThomson and mj_coop start to put the pressure on the Swede?
Last week saw the closest race finish in the history of Invictus Racing League as mdoran and Danester were separated by fifteen thousandths of a second.
Qualifying saw an overcast Barcelona play havoc with the tyres, as driver’s struggled to get enough temperature into the medium compound on the one lap out lap but after the sun broke from the clouds late into the session, Swedish driver Scopefielder produced an excellent lap with five seconds left in the session to take pole ahead of local driver Samuthepito by eight hundredths of a second.
Sam would take the lead off the line; whilst behind Speed_Queen found herself being collected by fellow McLaren team-mate FoxyRed with the pit-wall looking on in disbelief, she would carry on, but quickly found herself at the back on the field.
Sam and Scope continued at the head of the pack for the entire race with the Spanish driver looking in good form to take his first win in Invictus. However, a late safety car after a crash from Danestar at turn fourteen, and a crash for Im_west down the main straight simultaneously would bunch up the field. This would bring the fans a fantastic three-way shoot-out for the win between Sam, Scope and a miraculous BoyBetterKnow, who had made his way up from last on the grid at the start to well in contention for the victory.
Two laps remained, and with Sam leading the race, Scott and Scope rounded turn three, and with the slightest of touches from Scope, Scott was put into a spin and out of contention. Scope would then chase down the leader ahead, and on the final lap overtook the Spaniard coming across the line to win by under two tenths of a second.
WaveIntel would celebrate a first F1 podium after penalties relegated mdoran off the podium, whilst Betrayer and Speed_Queen both made good progress for fifth and sixth places respectively.
F1 has seen its first two races finish with first and second split by a collective 0.195s. this shows just how strong the line-up this season, but with several driver’s lining up for a shot at the championship, this could be a stunning season in Invictus’ premier formula.
GoodStuff had taken a debut victory in his first out in F2 last week, and the rookie driver would be looking at adding to his championship lead after leaving the Catalonian circuit.
He would start off in the best way possible, as a late lap blew away the competition and secured him with a second consecutive pole position. He was joined by the returning Tony_Y in the Ferrari, whilst the Force India of Vitinhoh1108 looked on course to be a thorn in the side of GoodStuff, but after hitting the wall on entry to the pit-lane, he would exit the qualifying session early.
It was a clean start, with the top four all getting away well and maintaining position. White-fountain had seen a monster of a start in the Renault, and over the first lap made up eight places to sit in fifth.
The leader held on to the top spot throughout the pit-stop window, and with 12 laps remaining was looking well on course to make it two wins from two.
NickLJThomson is another driver who will be looking at a push for the title this season and the Ferrari driver had made excellent progress into third, but with Humbostone closely following behind it looked to be fight between the two for the final place on the podium.
NeverMiss00 unfortunately couldn’t live up to his names-sake, on lap 29 the young Brit lost control of the McLaren on the exit of turn nine, and after hitting the wall with four laps remaining the field was put under a virtual safety car.
White-fountain had made superb progress through the pack since his thirteenth place start and on the final lap overtook race leader GoodStuff, into turn one, but disaster for the now second placed man, as he lost control of the Haas and ran into the gravel.
This gave white-fountain a free run to the chequered flag and a first Invictus win for the Belgian, NickLJThomson and Humbostone utilised GoodStuff’s late error and subsequent post-race penalties to elevate themselves into second and third, whilst GoodStuff will be disappointed after performing so well until the final laps.
It was a race to forget for the likes of mj_coop and Craig8728 who finished well down the order, but with Japan next week, will they be able to get their season kick started?
GoodStuff retains the title lead in the driver standings heading into round three, but white-fountain and Nick are within striking range, it’s very early into the championship so all is to play for as we head to Suzuka.
Bahrain gave the viewers of F3 a fantastic start to the season last week, the win went down to the wire, and with late controversy it was Booje who came away with the victory with the Renault well placed to maintain his good start in Barcelona.
Qualifying started well for Haas driver the_willo97, who after a disappointing start last week would be looking at bouncing back in Spain, he led the field with time counting down, but a phenomenal late lap from SnoopMarky saw the Sauber take provisional pole position, and with the_willo only able to improve by a few tenths Snoop lined up with a clear track turn one.
The cars lined up on the grid, and as the final red light illuminated and extinguished, the grid thundered down to turn one. It seemed a clean run into turn one, but all hell seemed to break loose in turn two.
Force India team-mates of NotoriousL_I_P and osteven002 were both caught in separate incidents as both cars spun into oncoming traffic, this caused chaos at turn three as cars scrambled to find a path through the carbon fibre debris. It would unfortunately see a premature end to the race for Nitrogash and then Dboydan22, but with a number of cars requiring new front wings, the first lap would be a huge factor come the end of the race.
The two major beneficiaries of the incident were the Williams drivers of Tejuarr and Captain_Stiff, as both moved up into the top six by the end of lap one, with the latter having started in fifteenth position.
The top two had made it away cleanly, but with both starting on the super-soft tyres they made an early stop, which released Tejuarr into the race lead, with F1Richard and Stiff hot on his heels. A devastating blow for the Sauber team saw pole-sitter SnoopMarky retire early and eventually team-mate Steelbl66 with the pit-crew unable to release them from the pit-stall. Snoop had looked well on form in Spain and cut a dejected figure in the paddock after the race.
Race engineers had their hands out in the air, and with the threat of rain approaching it appeared that the driver’s would have to deal with changing conditions.
Whilst the field all struggled with tyre choices before the rain, Captain_Stiff had stretched his initial mediums 24 laps and with DRS disabled on lap 28 he would take the lead of the race from Briggsy who equally had done a magnificent job to get into second, whilst the McLarens and the_willo struggled out on the wet circuit.
Stiff would hold it together and come across the line to win and take a debut F3 victory, Briggsy celebrated a podium in his second ever race, while it was loud cheers in the Williams garage as Tejuarr made it a double podium and a popular visit back to the rostrum for the experienced racer.
It’s been a strong start to the season for Stiff, and with 27 points from a possible 30 he leads the way by eleven points. The field will be looking at clawing back that gap in Suzuka, with nine races there are plenty more twists and turns in F3.
Round three heads to Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix next week, and with the iconic130R. The Invictus paddock will look at conquering the figure eight track and continuing a superb start to the season. Check out @InvictusRL for all announcements