Returning to my fictional F1 career, round 11 took us to Valencia, a street circuit that no longer hosts F1 events in reality (last hosting a race in 2012). I scored no points here in my first season, struggling to adapt to the track and making an error that would damage my front wing and prevent me from charging late on.
This time around, in practice conditions that would vary from dry to wet, I was holding up quite well on the time sheets, and had cause for optimism that I might have a good race – qualifying soon put paid to that idea.
I just didn’t get a good lap in in Q1, exiting at that stage for the first time during this career. I might have put in a better second lap, but the very end was ruined when I came around the final corner and another car pulled right across me into the pits, forcing me to abort the lap.
So qualifying had proven to be a disaster. I was 17th, staring at the possibility of scoring no points.
The start of the race itself was actually quite good. I managed to haul myself up the field by out-braking a lot of cars into the first few corners, and was swiftly up to 8th.
I would actually get into first before long, but I wasn’t significantly faster than anyone else, even on soft tyres, and would slip back down the order after every pit stop.
After grappling with a weakened front wing (yes, I pranged it once more) for several laps, I made my final stop and switched to my obligatory stint on hard tyres – at this point I was never likely to win but I was in 3rd, just ahead of a trio of cars who were all lapping faster than me and taking it in turns to pressure me. At every major corner they’d actually go right into the back of me, and this lead to a rather surprising – and annoying – development.
After one such shunt, I received a drive-through penalty! The car behind had driven into me, yet I was getting punished! I had no choice but to accept the penalty and went down to 6th place with only a handful of laps remaining – so I was relying on a miracle to take good points. Thankfully the painfully slow Renault of Nelson Piquet Jr was on hand to hold up the gaggle of cars I was chasing, and with only a couple of laps remaining I was able to get back into third. I would end up trading places with Rosberg a few times, but would ultimately hold on to take 3rd place and 6 points.
I would end up leaving Valencia with a 20 point lead after Button was 6th, so now my advantage was the equivalent of two race wins.