Round 3 of the Formula SimRacing Thrustmaster World Championship heads to the Tilke designed Shanghai International Circuit.
Well it's Wednesday and as Formula SimRacing fans, our thoughts turn to Sunday and to China, or more specifically to Shanghai International Circuit Jiading, Shanghai and its unique Hermann Tilke designed configuration of 15 turns over 5.41 km.
The FSR circus arrives with a very interesting dynamic at the top of the tables. One might say that things are far from settled.
Leading the standings is Petar Brljak (33 Points). With third place in Melbourne and second in Sepang, Petar is enjoying the happy scenario that he has yet to miss the podium in 2015. Any doubts that Melbourne was “happen-stance” due to Morand's absence and Parisis' electrical failure were dispelled when he was only just beaten into second place at Sepang by .591 sec.
Second is held by Kuba Brzezinski (30 points) after a second in Melbourne on his debut and a fourth in Sepang. Kuba was in Pro only last season but showed pace in Melbourne and judgement in Sepang. He doesn't want to move far from where he is.
Third in the standings is Muhammed Patel (27 points) who is proving to be Mr Consistent. He has driven fast and clean for a fourth and a third. He has seen the podium and seems to like it. Muhammed is proving where consistent good results can get you. But is that enough for him?
It gets interesting for fourth, its a tie and both drivers (25 points) have only seen first place. Jim Parisis who led in Melbourne until his technical issue then won Malaysia. Then Daniel Kiss who was the toast of Albert Park when he won both the Ace and WC race in Melbourne. We think that Kiss is going to focus on Ace where he leads the title chase and will be all but unstoppable there. This leaves Parisis. With his pace, fourth in the standings just doesn't look like a full-time position for this guy.
To sixth and we find David Greco (12 points). David has been forging somewhat of a reputation as an ace endurance racer over the winter. Has he lost his sprint Mojo? Was commentator Chris de Jong too hard on him at Sepang? Only David knows.
In seventh we see a driver who needs little introduction. Morgan Morand (10 points). He started his campaign in round two and is quite unused to being off the podium. We understand that in Sepang he required directions as to where you park after a race when you aren't actually in the top three. We expect that Morand is here to take the 2015 title. China is where the real work starts.
Good points in Melbourne and a hard earned ninth in Sepang see John-Eric Saxén in Eighth.(9 points)
Tied in ninth place with 8 points each are Patrick De Wit and Dian Kostadinov.
What does that all mean for round three in China.
Petar Brjak is enjoying the podium and it will take a good drive or three to dislodge this most champagne soaked of the drivers.
We are expecting quite a fight as Brjak battles to keep his lead in the title chase. Brzezinski, only 3 points behind can pass him and lead the championship if he beats him on track. Parisis will need to win and essentially see both Brjak and Brzezinski miss the podium. Morand having missed round one will need at least two very good results to be mixing it at the top.
So how will this all evolve on track-Expert View.
We asked Martin O'Brundle to make some observations and predictions...
This 2004 built Tilke track presents a unique set of challenges to the Drivers of Formula Sim Racing.
Turn one eats the front left as you fight to get to the worlds longest apex through about 4 to 5 gear changes. Get offline there and you can kiss about 5% of the entire life of your front left and about half a second goodbye. You just have to nail it. Trouble is the suspension settings that will get you enough front grip to work well in turn one make the car very oversteery as you try to put the power down in the long turn 12-13 section. The engineers will need to work hard on this one.
Then sector two rewards grip and wing but sector three with one of the longest straights in F1 requires a high top speed to both attack and to defend.
Consequently some teams will favour a little more wing and try to avoid DRS attack with a strong sector two, others will run a little less for more speed. Less wing usually means more tyre wear and this track is quite punishing on tyres.
Rumours from testing are showing a huge variance in what drivers can get from their tyres.
This and the fact that new tyres just feel so lovely and are so fast in China are making the undercut a strong option. However since wear is high you have to be careful how early you pull the trigger on an undercut.
So bottom line, I think we will see as much as two stops difference between the best and worst tyre wear. Drivers report a big difference in feel between the Soft (option) and the Medium (prime) tyres but are less certain as to which is the better race tyre here. We might just see the biggest mix of strategy so far. I suspect the battle for the win will go down to the wire on different tyre compounds in the final stint. I cant wait!”
Where does that leave us?
Well race fans the stage is set for a hell of a battle. The Drivers Championship lead is at stake as well as professional pride. Who will play the short game? Who will play the long game? Who will pull the trigger too early on a final undercut and watch the world go by as their tyres say farewell?
Who will win? Parisis, Morand, Brjak even Brzezinski?
You know what, we don't have a clue and that's got to be a great way to go into a race don't you agree?
Make sure you are there on Sunday to find out.
Also before the weekend, watch out for the first of Pashalis Gergis' forthcoming regular driver and team interview series.