F1 2009 Season 4 Round 6: Monaco 

Where do I start? I have no idea how to properly articulate this race.

Monaco is the supreme challenge, but on F1 2009 the AI is not as polished as it is on later games, with the result being that I have won here, by a couple of laps, despite prangs and penalties of my own. I had feared that disabling the racing line would make me slower here, and more accident prone – the irony is that this was my cleanest race at Monaco, and yet it is not a race I will savour.

On to the learning of the track. Since I have to use trackside objects to guide me in respect of braking and turning zones, I needed to spend a bit of time on the practice runs. Turn 1 was easy enough and after a while everything began to come together quite quickly – the famous sequence from turn 5 to the hairpin at turn 6 was a little tricky at first, and coming out of the tunnel to the chicane at turn 10 was always a little daunting, given the speed carried through the tunnel, but by and large I actually mastered this track quicker than I’d expected. I qualified on pole and actually held a reasonable degree of optimism that this could be a good race.

For one split second at the start I slipped to second but held the racing line into turn 1 and therefore headed off in the lead. However, my advantage would be short-lived, for I ended up losing my front wing (thanks to a shunt from behind) and then, because of the lack of control over the car, ran right over the chicane at turn 10 and was given a drive-through penalty. In my view, this is as much a fault with the game as anything else – I was driving slowly and couldn’t turn as well as a result of the damage – and I ended up having to do more or less two whole laps without a front wing, as the game’s design is such that I had to serve my drive-through, then go round again before I could get my wing repaired.

I had in a way been quietly excited – would this mean a dramatic charge up the field, a challenging battle to get back to the points that would test my skills? No, for the AI cars would do their usual  trick of getting into accidents and I would get by most of them in the pits. Before long, I was back in the lead, and whilst I would briefly lose it after my first pitstop, I’d soon regain it and hold onto it for the remainder of the race.

Whilst I’d endure a few more prangs, they weren’t serious and didn’t compromise my race – even a 10-second stop-go penalty couldn’t dampen things (and in my view, the backmarker that decided to go unreasonably slowly and not move off the racing line was in fact to blame for that incident). I got to the last lap and everything looked rosy.

Except, I would inexplicably run over the chicane at turn 10 again. I misjudged my braking on worn tyres and so I slowed right now as I went over it. My lap time was flagged for invalid. Oh well, it’s the final lap, what could happen?

My engine could fail, that’s what.

Yes, on the final lap, my engine died, in what I can only assume was some kind of punishment measure. The fact that I’d slowed down as I slipped over the chicane? Didn’t mean jack, obviously.

So for the second time this season I’ve had engine failure. I have 40 points from six races, and am one point behind Mark Webber as we go to Turkey.

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