Our March race brought us to the forested Rhine valley to race the Hockenheimring. There were a few stories to watch for in the race, including the Green Team taking up the front row of the starting grid and in desperate need of a strong showing to get back in the championship race. At the back of the grid, Cobalt’s Nero had closed the gap in the drivers’ championship to just 4 points, the smallest of the season.
However, the biggest news of the race was the surprise announcement prior to the race that all teams were now boasting new cars with new paint schemes. The new cars look more like real Formula 1 cars and boast liveries painted to mimic them. Here then, is an image of the starting grid with the liveries identified:
P1 – Mater (Ryan) – 2010 Lotus (Green w/ Yellow)
P2 – Danger Wheel (Ryan) – 2011 Caterham (Green w/ white stripes on nose)
P3 – The Stig* (Jason) – 2016 Williams Martini (White w/ black rear wing)
P4 – Captain Slow* (Jason) – 2016 Williams Martini (White w/ white rear wing)
P5 – Ice (Lonny) – 2015 Red Bull (Blue w/ purple rear wing)
P6 – Launch Bornado (Frank) – 2016 Ferrari (Red w/ white engine cover)
P7 – Nero (Lonny) – 2016 Red Bull (Blue w/ blue rear wing)
P8 – Jaap Snellrijder (Frank) – 2015 Ferrari (Red w/ white rear wing)
*Note that The Stig and Captain Slow actually should have been switched on the grid. The race stewards got this wrong, but it didn’t ultimately matter and there was nothing that could be done after the race started.
As the lights went out and the race commenced, Ice became the first car of the season to get a quick start off the line, splitting the Scandinavian Blitz drivers right out of the gate and getting the jump on Captain Slow. As everyone moved through the first corner, the cars remained tightly bunched, allowing Ice to move all the way up to 2nd place in nearly no time at all.
This quick advance from Ice would’ve been the story of the race’s early going if not for what befell his teammate. As Ice followed Danger Wheel into the Bernie Ecclestone Kurve, the rest of the field found themselves vying for position on the approach to that corner. The Stig and Mater were leading the charge, with Captain Slow close behind them. This effectively closed off the preferred outside line entry for Nero, who recklessly tried to take excessive speed into the corner. In his efforts to cut them off, he instead found himself clipping them, resulting in a one way trip into the barriers and out of the race. Fortunately, neither the Stig nor Mater were thrown into the same situation, and both were able to continue on.
Unaffected by the chaos behind them, Ice and Danger Wheel continued on down the track’s longest straight, with Ice gaining the temporary advantage. The Stig and Mater battled it out for 3rd place behind them. At the back, the Regency Motors cars both passed Captain Slow, who was living up to his name. The rest of the second sector saw Danger Wheel get the upper hand on Ice, while Mater was caught by a hard charging Jaap Snellrijder. The Stig sat comfortably in 3rd place.
Launch Bornado suffered a damaged front wing after following Mater a little too closely into Mercedes Arena, but it appeared a gamble that paid off, as he was able to pass the green car shortly thereafter.
With the first lap drawing to a close, Danger Wheel and Ice both went for the pits, where Ice gained an advantage with a smoother pit transition. Behind them, Jaap and Launch had both pulled ahead of the Stig. Jaap opted for a quick pit, but Launch needed to repair his front wing. In the end, the Stig wasn’t able to take advantage. Mater and Captain Slow would round out the pack, with everyone eventually pitting.
Back at the front, Ice’s quick pit stop gave him a margin of error over Danger Wheel, who suddenly found Jaap and Launch pushing him for 2nd place. With some added speed, they both overtook him, and in short order, The Stig was on his tail, too.
The long straight into the Spitzkehre hairpin was where Jaap and Launch needed to make up some time to catch Ice, but it was not to be. The two couldn’t bring enough horses to bear, and Ice began to pull away. Launch, in 2nd, and Jaap behind him, similarly began to pull away from their challengers, too. Danger Wheel continued to fight off the Stig’s best efforts. In this case, it was the Stig who began to falter. Taking too much speed into Spitzkehre, Danger Wheel was able to pull away in the following straight. Worse yet for the Stig, Captain Slow and Mater had now caught up.
Ice casually navigated the third sector, easily securing his first victory and Cobalt’s second in as many races. It was an uneventful finish to a race that started out full of drama, and the racing behind him looked relatively uneventful as well. The red Regency Motors cars of Jaap and Launch looked like they were slotted in for 2nd and 3rd place. The Green Team of Danger Wheel and Mater, who had pulled ahead of the Scandinavian Blitz team, looked slotted in to their respective places. And, of course, Scandinavian Blitz trailed. Fortunately, the third sector made for some of the best racing of the day.
It was highlighted by Danger Wheel who, despite a relatively wide gap from Jaap and Launch, began to drive flawlessly. He found the perfect line through Mercedes Arena and caught up with Jaap at Mobil 1 Kurve. Captain Slow, was suddenly not so slow at all. He passed the Stig and caught Mater at Mercedes Arena.
Launch and Jaap both kept in front of Danger Wheel in the Sachs Kurve, but at this point, the gap was small enough that it would be more about who could find a better line and keep their speed up. Mater, meanwhile, had rebuffed the challenge from Captain Slow and was looking to join the fray in the fight for 2nd place.
As the three primary contenders headed into Sud Kurve, they were literally wheel-to-wheel. Jaap had a slight edge on Launch, who had a slight edge on Danger Wheel. Mater was a step behind them, but ready to pounce should anyone falter. The final word on the matter was one of tires. Danger Wheel’s tires were much fresher than either Jaap’s or Launches. As a result, Jaap had to take the outside line out of the corner and Launch stuck to the middle lane. Danger Wheel was able to get the jump on the inside and steal 2nd away from both of them. Jaap would finish 3rd with Launch close behind.
Danger Wheel was in no danger of losing 5th place and took it comfortably. The Stig, who struggled mightily over the last half lap, would follow Captain Slow for an extremely frustrating finish.
|Danger Wheel (GT)||2||2||2|
|Jaap Snellrijder (RM)||8||3||3|
|Launch Bornado (RM)||6||4||4|
|Captain Slow (SB)||3||5||6|
|The Stig (SB)||4||7||7|
|Nero (CO)||7||8, dnf||8, dnf|
Unlike other races, where most of the major position shifts happened in the second lap, this race saw the cars finish in roughly the same position as they lapped. This was true despite a rather turbulent second lap, which saw lots of passing.
Jaap managed to duplicate his effort from last race and retain his lead in the drivers’ standings, but the big story was with Cobalt. Nero’s crash left him wondering what might’ve been. Ice’s ascension from 5th to victory bested his teammate’s win from 3rd on the grid in Sebring. Launch moves back up to 3rd place in the driver standings with his strong performance. Danger Wheel’s second place finish sees him leapfrog The Stig and Captain Slow, who are now tied with 61 points each. Mater’s 5th place wasn’t enough to elevate him out of last place.
With back-to-back wins, Cobalt has shown just how tough they can be, but they still haven’t been able to catch Regency Motors. The gap is now as small as it’s been since the 2nd race of the season. The two trailing teams are now significantly behind, meaning it will take quite an effort to catch up, but it is still possible. The Green Team passed Scandinavian Blitz for 3rd place, and they’ve shown quite a bit of promise lately. Scandinavian Blitz, on the other hand, have been trending in the wrong direction. They were in 2nd just two races ago.
Nero’s crash at the second corner was the first time a car has been eliminated on the first lap this season. It’s also the first time a Cobalt car has been knocked out.