Ahoy folks, and welcome to season four of my F1 career on the 2009 Wii edition of the Formula 1 game series. You may be wondering how a fourth season is possible on a game which only permits three seasons in career mode – the answer is easy – imagination. I’ve ‘taken over’ the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen and am assuming him to be me. Why Ferrari? Well, I raced for them in my third season, and so therefore decided to continue with the sport’s most famous name.
As always, the opening race on the game is Australia, and so it’s to Melbourne we go for a 58-lap adventure around a popular street circuit. Before I go into detail about the race, I must first note something.
Previously, I’d raced without steering or brake assists, however I left on the racing line, which revealed braking points. This time, I’ve ditched that, and as a result, need to learn the circuits in a way I didn’t have to before. For Australia, this would be relatively straightforward, given the experience I have with the track.
So what are the points of interest here? There are a couple of meaty corners that can bite you hard if you don’t respect them. Turns 3, 9 and 15 all fall into that category, and to nail them correctly, you have to judge your braking finely. It’s all too easy to think of turn 3 (where Alonso and Guiterrez had a smash that left Alonso’s McLaren as a wreck in 2016) as one you can hit faster than you actually can. The consequence of this is a trip to the gravel and a bad lap.
Without the racing line to guide me I was timid at first. I tiptoed around the track and my lap times were disappointing. I realised I needed to do what F1 drivers do – they set markers for themselves, using trackside objects. Once I’d done this and felt comfortable with my marks, I was soon setting lap times that were comfortably the quickest, so I moved on to qualifying, which was a piece of cake. First on the grid was my reward for taking the time to learn the track thoroughly, and in fact, I have to wonder if following the braking zones suggested by the racing line actually made me slower than I was capable of running. I had well over a second on the nearest cars, and at the start of the race, got away cleanly, actually retaining the lead into the first corner for a change.
From there, I carved out a comfortable gap pretty quickly. Within three laps I was over seven seconds clear of Rosberg, and whilst the order behind me would shuffle, my advantage over the pack wouldn’t wane – I continued to stretch away.
By the time of my first stop (lap 13) I was able to emerge just about still in the lead, and after my second stop, some 13 laps later, I was roughly eight seconds clear. I fell into a steady pattern with each lap, and I was cruising. The only hairy moment came when I lapped the McLaren of Hamilton, on the exit of turn 2 and heading down the straight toward turn 3. He nearly pushed me off the track at high speed, yet I was given a warning – I wasn’t best pleased about that!
On lap 41 I made my final stop, taking on hard tyres to see me through to the end. I was a tad slower than Webber at this point, but so far ahead that I was able to ease off and be untroubled. Victory was in the bag.
Except, it wasn’t. As I started lap 49, my engine conked out. I couldn’t believe it. The win was mine to throw away, but it was the car that gave up. I didn’t even check to see who’d actually won – I sidled away, dismayed that I could have a virtually guaranteed 10 points snatched from my grasp like that. The next race – Malaysia, will be tougher to master, given it lurches from dry to wet conditions quite easily, so I could have done with a win in Australia to set me away nicely. We shall have to see what round 2 brings!