Collisions, mechanical issues, and a flawless leading pack meant a grim showing in this stage of the MyTeam career.
If you've been following my journey through F1 22's MyTeam, you'll know that in the last instalment of the series, I was riding one heck of a high. Thanks to mistakes and collisions from the top teams, my organisation MBF Racing was securing podiums rather frequently, which made it seem like when a few upgrades came in for the car, the team could even be challenging the best teams on the grid for wins. Unfortunately, this instalment is seeing the team take a bit of a step in the wrong direction, as various issues, racing incidents, and flawless showings from Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes has meant that MBF Racing has been fighting solely for points finishes - and that's about it.
Kicking off this latest batch of Grand Prix was Miami, a track I was actually afraid of due to my lack of experience of racing around the street circuit. My inexperience meant that I had yet to nail racing lines, perfect braking points, and of course figure out the optimal gear for each and every corner, something that showed in my Practice performances and onwards into Qualifying and the race. This wasn't helped by the fact that it was a wet race and an incorrect set-up meant that the MBF 01 lacked significant speed in the straights, meaning I had to use unfamiliar corners as a way to land a solid grid spot and race result. Ultimately, after a lap that I wasn't particularly comfortable with, the best I could net was P8 in Qualifying, with teammate Jenson Button managing to best me with a P7 start.
Heading into the actual race a bit of luck came my way again, as Carlos Sainz became acquainted with the barriers and ruled out his Ferrari, and likewise a horrible Qualifying session meant that Mercedes' George Russell was starting all the way back in P16 and wasn't a threat. But that didn't change the fact that aside from Button, I still had Valterri Bottas to get past as well - something I found particularly difficult due to inexperience with the track and a poorly balanced car - to be able to even think about challenging the top teams.
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After an incident on the third to last corner, Button found himself with damage to his car and had to pit, meaning I could set my sights on Bottas for the rest of the race. Thanks to smart energy usage and some particularly brave deep braking moments I managed to snag P5 before the chequered flag began to wave, but it was hard to see that result as much of a win, considering all of the cards that had to fall into place to ensure that it happened, and when taking into account Button coming up dead last due to damage and an extended pit stop, the result was all the more sour.
But Miami was said and done now and all eyes could be focused on a return to an actual race track as it was time for the Spanish GP. The MBF 01 instantly felt more balanced and suited to the track here and it meant that Practice and Qualifying went pretty uneventfully. After a fairly quick lap, I found myself starting in P7, due to the top teams being flawless and all starting ahead of me. Button was back to old tricks and found himself in a less impressive P13.
Jump to the actual race and things started off less than favourably. A slow start from myself meant that Haas' Mick Schumacher jumped me when the lights went out, meaning I spent the rest of the race tailing the German driver and attempting to get past him. The Haas proved to be too nippy on the straights however, meaning even with the help of DRS I couldn't best what Schumacher was offering, and thus ended this race down a spot and in P8. Button managed to make up some positions and come in P10, but all in all, Spain ended up being quite a mediocre showing for MBF Racing.
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Little did I know that mediocre would have been a gift from the gods come Round 7: Monaco. This was by far the worst race of the season for me, for a multitude of reasons. Not only was the car struggling with the uneven Monegasque street surface, but a massive downpour of rain meant that I was qualifying in full wet tires. Needless to say, Monaco's harsh corners and tight boundaries meant that a mistake was just bound to happen at some point, and that's exactly what occurred. A lock-up into Turn 8 meant that I clipped and completely lost the right tire against the barrier, ultimately meaning I was starting this race (notoriously known for being impossible to overtake on) right at the back of the grid.
My Monegasque misery wasn't yet over however, as the actual race brought more chaos than I could possibly imagine. An eight car pile-up before Turn 6 on the first lap meant that I had to crawl through all manners of carbon fibre wreckage to be able to continue my race efforts. Unfortunately, this wreckage did a number on my own tires and caused my rear right to puncture, meaning I had to limp back to the pits to get the tire replaced. This was worsened by some of the cars involved in the incident seemingly being able to get off better than expected, and therefore three cars from the pile-up came blitzing past me while I focussed on just keeping the MBF 01 on the road.
But alas, I got a replacement tire and set about on my way, assuming that the massive pile-up and damage left on the track had been cleaned up by the time that I came to the collision spot again. I was wrong. A particularly nasty bit of carbon fibre remained, and it caused the unthinkable: another rear right puncture on the following lap. After hobbling back again, I got a third set of tires, and focused on being extra cautious to avoid the wreckage going forward.
The pile-up did mean that my P22 start ended in a P17 result, as Kevin Magnussen, Lance Stroll, Sebastian Vettel, Pierre Gasly, and Alexander Albon all had to retire, but regardless of that, P17 was a very grim result for me and the team. Fortunately, Button had a better go of it and managed to secure a P7 finish, giving MBF Racing some points for an otherwise catastrophic Grand Prix.
While there's no way of knowing what the future will hold for the team, there's no denying that if the top teams fail to make mistakes, MBF Racing is not on par with their race pace and qualifying potential. At least not yet that is.