Austin hasn't necessarily produced the most exciting races in the real world F1 circus in recent years, Thursday night perhaps followed a similar trend, but how important will this race prove towards the standings at the end of the season?
Perhaps the most exciting thing this week in tier 1 was the qualifying which took place.
Qualifying 1 was pretty much business as usual, in terms of the fastest cars on track. RSF1 Easton was making his first FPRL appearance of the season in the race, viewers of RSF1 will know that he would certainly provide tough competition for the drivers towards the top end of the grid. However it was aliFerrari5 who was able to pip the rest of the field to P1 in this session, with a dry track throughout.
Viewers of the stream will note the bug whereby some drivers had more time left in their session than others. However, the rain ensured that these drivers would be unable to improve (even though they shouldn't have had the opportunity). Meaning ObjektFungus165 was the real shock loss from Q1, unable to get out of the bottom 5 and was due to start 17th in the race.
Qualifying 2 was under way under wet conditions meaning a notoriously tough track on track limits was about to get a whole lot tougher. AltijdDean was to be the first victim to the poor weather, crashing on pit entry to lose his front right tyre and take no further part in qualifying. He'd be hoping to shrug this and put in a decent performance in the race.
It was AG Passi who set the pace however. Stealing a march over aliFerrari5 in the worsening conditions to set the fastest Q2 time ahead of RSF1 Easton. This led to many believing that if the conditions stayed the same for Q3, it was very much advantage AG Passi in the fight for pole.
Perhaps the biggest shock of Q2 was the fact that last weeks race winner RBT Seresv28 was out after being unable to improve as the conditions deteriorated through the session. Leaving him starting 14th, and leaving the viewers with a mouthwatering prospect of watching another incredible comeback in the race. A special mention to Grownsy4446 who missed out on Q3 by only 0.079 to Monkeyboycurt97 who would have been very happy to make the top 10.
Qualifying 3 was very unpredictable with the weather up and down throughout the session. AG Passi the Q2 pacesetter in the wet conditions just could not hook a lap together as he finished 10th in the Ferrari after trundling round of intermediates for the entire session, yet unable to set a competitive lap time.
It was to be RSF1 Easton who would claim his first pole position this season on his debut, beating Hurshs2004 by over 2 tenths to underline his phenomenal one lap pace. AliFerrari5 will be aggrieved however, as his lost control of his car through the S's of sector 1 and ended up in the barrier, despite being on a lap that could have challenged the pole position time.
Shots2drippy would have been hoping to be closer to the front in qualifying given his renewed interest in a title challenge, however would definitely not be disappointed after picking up 6th for the start of the race.
Here is your starting grid in full:
Watch the race start here:
Off the start xOMTx KlooTsjaK instantly picked up a drive through penalty after a jump start giving him a difficult race ahead. With drivers having free tyre choice due to the wet qualifying, there was always going to be differing strategies throughout the field. AliFerrari5 from 3rd on the grid had the jump on both HurshS2004 and RSF1 Easton and led after turn 1.
But perhaps the biggest shock was from AltjdDean and RBT Seresv28, colliding off the start line into turn 1, leaving them both out of the race! Those viewers who were excited to watch what RBT Seresv 28 could do from mid pack again will be left disappointed as they both didn't even make it to turn 1! This brought the safety car out which meant for the first few laps at least, aliFerrari5's lead was safe.
With the safety car in after 3 laps, AliFerrari5 was the effective race leader with xOMTx KlooTsjaK still to serve his penalty. CollateralAds94 also had a good restart and was up to an effective 3rd, having demoted HurshS2004 to 4th.
CollaterolAds94 also made use of his soft tyres in the laps after the safety car, passing RSF1 Easton who was on the mediums, for 2nd place, and looking to close on aliFerrari5. xOMTx Stoffie and Fardo17 also had a decent start for Alfa Romeo at this point, keeping it clean to climb to 9th and 12th from their respective grid positions.
However, we now approached perhaps the most important stage of the race. Under another safety car due to a retirement for joshulameister, most of the soft tyre runners decided to pit. Meaning aliFerrari5 and hurshS2004 would both pit for the hard tyres, would they make it to then at this point? With almost 22 laps to go, it was certainly a big ask. CollaterolAds94 pitted for medium tyres, restricting him to a 2 stop strategy at this point, who had played the best strategy at this point? With RSF1 Easton assuming the lead followed by monkeyboycurt97 and shots2drippy in the Williams, all of which had yet to pit.
On the restart, silversideboi (who had impressively gained 10 positions up to 8th at this point) unfortunately had slight contact with aliFerrari5, giving him front wing damage and needing a pit stop. Meaning all his early race hard work had been in vain as he was forced to pit and drop to the back, unlucky for him and red bull with both drivers now effectively out of the race, meaning no points towards their constructors that they desperately needed.
Post these incidents, the race settled down almost. It very quickly became a race of the timing screens. With aliFerrari5 looking to stay within RSF1 Easton's accumulated corner cutting penalties to take the win, after battling hard back through the field on his hard tyres.
RSF1 Easton had gone for a different strategy, going mediums to softs and giving him blistering pace at the end of the race and try to get the gap to aliFerrari5. However, it seemed that aliFerrari5 had managed the gap and ultimately across the line, it was aliFerrari5 who took the win Austin to extend his championship lead.
HurshS2004 would take a 3rd place due to the penalties accumulated by CollaterolAds94, who would have made his 2 stop strategy work beautifully had he not picked up those penalties. However, he would still take 4th alongside AG Passi who took 5th, to give Ferrari very good points in their constructors standings.
However the drama was not over post race. With many viewers of the stream noticing a rather controversial incident between aliFerrari5 and Harrisonsh59. With Harrisonsh59 about to be passed by aliFerrari5, he made a small defensive move, causing aliFerrari5 to take avoiding action and ultimately crash into the side of Harrisonsh59. Unfortunately ruining Harrisonsh59's race and putting him out of the running for some strong points. See what you think about the incident, however the stewards judged aliFerrari5 to be predominantly at fault, giving him a 5 second penalty, promoting RSF1 Easton to his first win of the season and meaning aliFerrari5 finished 2nd.
Full race results:
TAKE-AWAYS FROM THE EVENT
Despite the post race penalty, aliFerrari5 still extends his championship lead. So he can be happy about that despite losing the win. Williams will be slightly disappointed not to have picked up more points given their impressive consistent form recently. Who is going to emerge as the championship challenger in both drivers and constructors? Or will aliFerrari5 drive away at the top of the standings starting with Mexico next week in FPRL tier 1.
See you then!