It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. Over the winter months I’ve been putting off the final three rounds of the season, and indeed, career mode (since F1 2009 only allows for three seasons). I wanted to finish this project though, so I forged ahead with round 15 – Japan, at Suzuka.
This fast circuit features the famous Ss sequence – a string of quick turns from 1 – 7 (turn 8, whilst not part of this sequence, is pretty fast as well). Suzuka is also noteworthy for being the only figure 8 track in F1, and this venue has played host to many a title decider down the years (indeed, the 1987, 88, 90 and 91 titles were all settled here). In 2015, Hamilton drew criticism for his heavy-handed treatment of Rosberg as they went into turn 1 (criticism that, in my view, was not warranted).
Enough history though, what about my race?
Well, before it even started I’d made a critical error. With a gap of four points between and Jensen Button, I held the advantage but could not afford to be sloppy – so why on earth did I select ‘race’ instead of ‘Q3’ on the menu?!
I was pretty annoyed with myself, and had to start the race in 9th. This was naturally far from ideal, when facing the crunch point of the season! I needed a clean start, which I had, but didn’t really make up much ground to begin with. Then the AI did something to both help and hinder me.
At turn 13, several AI cars began to slide wide, something that happened over successive laps and something triggered yellow flag, no overtaking warnings. I went by several of them as they rejoined the track (my view being that they were off-track or far enough away from the racing line to not matter) and as such, shot up through the order. Suddenly the damage done by my earlier error seemed lessened – until I received drive-through penalty for overtaking under yellow flag conditions. I was annoyed once more, this time with the system, but being an older game, F1 2009 can’t really account for the nuances of the rules more recent versions can, so I had no choice but to bite the bullet and accept my punishment.
I was still around 4th/5th and as the three-stoppers began to come in for their first stops I found myself in second. Having opted for a two-stop strategy, I maintained a steady pace behind Button and once he pitted I was able to build up a decent lead – it has been a few days since the race but I think I even managed to come out of my first stop still leading (Button most likely got bogged down in traffic).
From that point on, the race was actually straight-forward, despite the chaos of the start. I saw out a very comfortable win (over a minute clear of Mark Webber), and better still, Button dropped to 4th, seeing me open up a 9-point lead in the title race with two races remaining. A good result in Brazil will see me get a third straight title with a race to spare – not what I expected after all the DNFs I’ve had!