After the action packed tier 1 race the day before, there was a few things you could be certain of for the tier 2. More drama, more championship permutations and many more safety cars. As always, tier 2 delivered some juicy action.
Following the server troubles in the tier 1 race the day prior to this event. Many drivers experienced plenty of server issues both during qualifying and the race. However, we did get a full traditional qualifying session underway after a slight delay following the conclusion of the real world Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying.
Qualifying 1 is typically an odd affair, with drivers perhaps not needing to push quite as hard to make it through (with varying amounts of drivers attending each race), however with a full 20 driver grid, we were in for the most exciting Q1 of the season.
i Biddle x was unable to attend qualifying, giving us only 19 drivers for the start of qualifying, but none the less that was more than enough drivers to entertain us.
XxOB13xX served his qualifying ban which carried over from the previous race. Leaving 18 drivers to fight it out.
hargy11 would be the first (but definitely not the last) victim of the sector 1 S's, wrecking his car on the entry to the corner and leaving 17 drivers to fight it out.
Connection issues for long time previous championship leader GregersUK would hamper his session and in fact entire race as he struggled to retake his place on the grid. Meaning code masters fantastic glitchless multi million pound developed game had brought to an end another racers evening.
The most shocking incident (perhaps throughout the entire qualifying sessions was an incident between RobbieParsons77 and RSF1 Kachow. Many tip RSF1 Kachow to be the fastest in the tier 2 field, but he would have a colossal job on his hands in the race as, RobbieParsons77 span, dawdled slightly wide of the racing line and was careered into by RSF1 Kachow. RobbieParsons77 unduly picked up a 5 place grid penalty for this incident (game decision). Was it a correct decision? Decide for yourself by watching a clip of the incident.
Swillzer was the last victim of Q1, unable to put a time in that would see him through and seeing him dropped from the first part of qualifying.
Qualifying 2 provided less action but perhaps gave us a real representation for who might be the quickest in the race here with many drivers taking the preferred medium race tyres in this session. Sgtraninov took the headlines with his blistering soft tyre run, 0.73 seconds ahead of the rest of the field and surely one to watch in Q3.
But it was Junnu Vain who was quickest of the drivers to take the mediums, putting on display his 1 lap pace on the mediums to take second place ahead of fishsticks957 in third.
RSF1 Locker put in a valiant effort to make Q3, determined to start on the preferred medium tyre but ultimately missing out on a place in the top 10, then pipped to 11th by Force Maneure on the soft tyre.
In Q3, the pace setter of Q2, sgtraninov, had looked to all but secure pole position with a blistering 1:29:419. However, on his last flying effort, fishsticks957 pipped the sergeant by just 0.011 to take pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix. TriCkPineZ came very close to breaking onto the front row, with his final effort less than a tenth shy of pole and a fantastic lap.
FPRLScotsman and Revenge ZiLLA will be disappointed to have been starting 6th and 7th, 0.475 and 0.602 off pole position. But both drivers have tremendous race pace and would look to make up those places in the race, perhaps after seeing shots2drippy and ObjektFungus165's exploits in the tier 1 race after starting from a similar position.
Watch the race start here:
Championship leader i Biddle x made it just in time for the race giving us a full grid of 20 drivers taking his place on the back spot of the grid. He'd be hoping to make up a few places in the race to limit the damage to his slender 3 point championship lead.
Off the line and everyone got away cleanly except RobbieParsons77, who lost the back end of his car under his own steam. Spinning up his rear wheels but crucially, avoiding damage meaning he could continue in the race.
Sgtraninov would have been hoping for a quick start off the line given his tyre advantage over fishsticks957. But was unable to make the advantage count as fishsticks957 kept his lead.
Junnu Vain was involved in a collision early on with hunPC. Putting him right down the order and perhaps giving him a lot to think about in terms of strategy from this point.
Even at this stage, RSF1 Locker was experiencing game connectivity issues, being involuntarily removed from the game. With other drivers reporting screen freezes and cars moving around, it looked as though codemasters put a plaster over the connectivity issues of the previous day and that plaster has started to come loose.
Nonetheless, it was a great start from RSF1 Kachow to move up to 14th and an even better on from last on the grid i Biddle x who was up to 12th after the first few corners!
Sgtraninov had a moment into the hairpin on the opening lap allow TrickZpineZ, Button22x and FPRLScotsman to get ahead of him on the opening lap. Dissapointing for him as he would have wanted to make up places with the early tyre advantage, not lose 3.
RSF1 Kachow was now carrying front wing damage and would be forced into an early stop for repairs. By lap 4, i Biddle x fought his way up to 6th place and was now 1 place behind his Alpha Tauri team mate who had now found his rhythm and started setting fastest laps to close on those ahead of him. Alpha Tauri looking for a good points haul to continue their dominance of the tier 2 constructors championship.
At this point, the race became mainly about safety cars as many drivers cracked under the intense pressure on this unique circuit.
Fishsticks957 had done well to lead from pole and was showing fantastic race pace to manage his tyre and hold his own at the front. However safety cars would prove problematic for all drivers strategies and it quickly became a race of who was on the right tyre at the right time.
With hargy11 and Robbieparsons77 both wrecking their cars, the safety car came out for another appearance, presenting an opportunity for the medium tyre runners to stick some hard boots on and hope to run till the end.
We now join the race on lap 19 and RSF1 Kachow had inherited the lead ahead of sgtraninov and fishsticks as he profited from the safety cars on track. RSF1 Locker and i Biddle x were now having an intense battle as they fought for 9th place having both momentarily fixed their connection issues.
The safety wasn't finished quite just yet though making one final appearance towards the end. Giving us a thrilling closing 2 laps. FPRLScotsman had been in for repairs and unfortunately couldn't join the end of the crocodile. But at the front, things were heating up for the podium places.
Revenge ZiLLa will not want to watch this one back as he squandered a podium place spinning on his own accord and losing his front wing. RSF1 Locker was now up to 4th place and was on for a great finish for his Alpine team. But under pressure lost control of his car and was sent flying into the gravel trap. Dropping him down to 7th in the field.
Not a lot would happen between now and the end of the race. But it was indeed RSF1 Kachow who took the checkered flag after a brilliant drive from 18th and picking up damage on lap 1 to take yet another win in FPRL. Fishsticks957 will also be very happy to take P2 as his consistency is starting to help his title push. sgtraninov rounded off the podium for his AlphaTauri team to take P3.
Results pending stewards decisions*
Take-aways from the event
Indeed, the tier 2 race was a cracker just like tier 1, but what does it mean for the championship? AlphaTauri certainly are looking strong for the constructors title now, having nearly a 3 figure lead on the rest of the pack with less and less races remaining each week. Can anyone challenge them going forward?
For the drivers title it is still very much wide open. i Biddle x and his AlphaTauri teammate Sgtraninov are now tied on points. Fishsticks957 consistency will be a concern for both of them and FPRLScotsman certainly kept himself in the race with solid points in 7th in the end.
What will happen in the next round of this championship at the next event this Friday 19th November? You'll have to tune in @ 8pm to find out.
See you there!