Sunday, March 27, 2011

F1-Geeks Track Analysis - Australia

And so it begins...  We open the season for you with our Track Analysis.  For those of you unfamiliar with how we do this let me break it down for you.

We race the upcoming race venue virtually by playing Codemasters' Formula One 2010 and a racing wheel.  Driving aids are optional but the more you have on, the less you really get a sense of the track.  So let's get on with it...

The move from Adelaide to Melbourne in 1996 also saw this race move up from last in the schedule to be second this year.  The civil unrest in Bahrain, however, caused the race there to be postponed and possibly cancelled moving the Australian F1 race to be the season opener. 

No complaints from F1-Geeks as it's become a favorite of mine for an early season race.   It's a classic Goldilocks track.  Not too fast, not too slow with a great mix of corners.

Heading to turn one in 7th at top speed is a good time.  What's not so good is forgetting to brake hard and turn in early.  Get it right and you slingshot through in 3rd gear and turn 2 is behind you before you know it.   Time it wrong and you under-steer into the gravel or the stewards are giving you hell for "cutting" the corner.   The psychological effect here stayed with me throughout the lap.  If I nailed it, suddenly the whole track was a piece of cake.*  If I messed it up, I couldn't even get any decent practice from the rest of the lap.

How many laps did it take me to remember turn 3 was a very slow corner?  Over 20.   I know, it sounds crazy, but this corner is much slower than it looks.  Its not like turn 15 where you realize very quickly where it is and how slow it is.  This one is sneaky.

Turns 4 through 8 are not horrible and build up your confidence so that turn 9 can take it away with a painful journey skipping through the gravel trap.  Slow down more than you think you should for 9 and you'll just barely make it.

You get a breather here and if you are using a wheel to control the action, you can almost feel the quick left-right flick sequence of 11 and 12 in your stomach.  13 and 14 almost feel like a double apex corner, and you have to feather the throttle through there to keep from getting all squirrelly.  Hard on the brakes for 15 and you get to flip the gearbox a few times as you accellerate on to the straight.

An interesting note about the straight.  It's much longer than it seems.   You come out of 16 with a decent time on your lap and then you get to just sit there and watch the seconds tick away while you're trying to get to the finish line.   Turn 15 can absolutely kill your whole lap. Respect it.

That's how F1-Geeks saw the track.   This was absolutely an amalgam of the best parts of each of my various bad laps.  I should have practiced more in the off season.   For those of you keeping track, finished 10th in practice, 24th in qualifying and crashed out in the race when virtual Jensen Button bumped into me from behind and I spun into the barrier.   Damn you to hell, VJB... to hell, I say.

* A tricky twisty stress-filled cake but you get the idea.

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