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MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX
Sepang International Circuit. 26 March 2019
February 17, 2019

 

After a long and arduous time away over the winter months, the WTF1 GPVWC Superleague made its glorious return as the 15 competing teams rev up their preparation for the season ahead.
For those new to the league, the four Pre-Season tests allow the competing teams to earn R&D points that help towards the development of their challenger for the season ahead. This is especially important for the teams new to the division as they will have to start from scratch. Teams that competed in Superleague last season have retained a certain percentage based on their R&D total from last season so they will have a head start but this still doesn't mean that they can rest on their laurels.

The Pre-Season tests also give a chance for the four engine Manufacturers to gain eR&D points which will help develop the engines that they produce not only for themselves, but for the customers that have chosen to take up the option of using their engines for the season.

There is plenty to test before the season gets underway in Australia on the 14th of March. It gives the teams a chance to see how the car behaves under certain set ups, the tyre degradation on certain compounds and how fuel load affects the car during a stint. It also gives them a chance to show off their beautiful creations on track!

And now to the first session itself, which was held in Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. This track gives the teams a great chance to test different set ups as it has a great variety of incredibly long straights and tight, twisty corners that are reliant on the aero balance of the car being on point.

And Tobias Olsson, fresh from winning the Swedish National championship for virtual racing, took to the track to set a blistering time of 1.16.136 to end up top of the timesheets. Whilst testing is generally not the place to look for outright pace and is usually not an indication of how the season will pan out, it will give team owner Matthew Allington great confidence in his driver heading into the teams first season in the top tier of GPVWC. A couple of drivers were within a tenth of the top, whilst the top 5 were all within just shy of half a second of the Swede.

As I said, testing isn't usually a sign of things to come when it comes to the timesheets, but there are a few things to delve into. One thing that people tend to look for are who has managed to complete the test session the most efficiently. By that, I mean who has managed to complete the fewest number of laps whilst still attaining maximum R&D points for their teams.

In what comes as a surprise to myself, only two teams managed to get the perfect number of laps which, for this session, was 96. The first team was Red Archer who look to vault themselves back towards the sharp end of the grid. It will be of great comfort for the Greek team who suffered last season with a lack of consistency that they have started the pre-season perfectly. The second team are the returning Green Stripes Racing who are looking to rebuild themselves back into regular Superleague challengers having spent last season in Supercup. It will give the German team confidence that their preparations have started well and will no doubt hope to continue with this good form.

One team who will be concerned after the first test in this sense will be MadCape, who only fielded two drivers for the event meaning that they will have only received two thirds of the maximum R&D points. Dan Brewer did, however, have the highest lap count for any single driver which may mean they knew of the risks of only having two drivers therefore wanting to get a few extra laps under their belts.

The second thing people like to look for are the teams average best time. To do this, I have taken the best time from each teams drivers, added them up and then divided it by 2 or 3 to get their average time. And for you Hawkeye fans, it makes for great reading as the British team had the best average, coming out at 1.17.420.

What is great about the averages is that it gives a slightly clearer view as to what teams are looking to compete at a higher level. Both Evolution and Basilea, another team new to the division, also had average times in the 1.17 mark (1.17.578 for Basilea and 1.17.676 for Evolution respectively) which may mean that they are ready to deal some damage when it comes to Australia in a few weeks time. In comparison, YTF1, who had the quickest singular time in Tobias, also had the slowest in Allington which means their average is only 1.19.488. It did make for a great sandwich though!

One more thing regarding this test for me is the performance of reigning Superleague champions ACR Zakspeed, who enter the season with their new all-champion line up of reigning Superleague champion Alex Siebel and former two time champion David Fidock. Both drivers know what it takes to win titles and it comes in the preparations and it comes as no surprise that the two drivers completed their runs in perfect fashion, with Jernej Simoncic also doing a great job with 33 laps and the second fastest time of the test. The two champions were happy to stay around the midfield part on the timesheets, but this will no doubt change come Australia. Fidock will have a point to prove after a difficult season by his high standards last year and he couldn't do it in a better fashion by taking on the best of the bunch in Alex.

That's it from me for this week. If you would like to see more of these or have any feedback/suggestions for the next one, please don't hesitate to message me!

For a full snapshot of the test session results, follow the link below:

http://en.gpvwc.com/competitions/results/?comp_id=1&target=1001&sess=T


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