With the club currently seeing some of its highest attendances of recent years, it was an unusually small grid of just seven cars that lined up for the final F1 round of the year, the absent drivers either babysitting, working, enjoying family time, ill or cowering indoors having been terrified by the media hype preceding the arrival of storm In a Teacup (or whatever it was called) and the puddles it was forecast to cause around Molesey.
Despite the small grid, everyone except Julian enjoyed a great night’s racing. Julian would probably have preferred to have drowned in one of storm In a Teacup’s puddles. As he admitted in the club’s What’sApp chat the following evening, “A part of me died inside last night!” He’d had what can only be described as a shocker.
Julian’s made no secret of his dislike of F1, a class he’s struggled to master and which, by his standards, has produced a poor win rate of just 40% this year. If his third place last week behind Simon and Lee was bad, finishing stone last this week was a disaster. It was, however, highly amusing to watch for everyone else. Cruel sods.
Simon won heat 1 by seven tenths from Julian, but Julian fought back strongly in Heat 2 to take a lead of four seconds, then increased it by a tenth in Heat 3 and for a while looked reasonably satisfied. It didn’t last.
Early in heat 4 Julian crashed and immediately was playing catch-up. Another crash a lap later made things worse, then another, then another. The race continued, but Julian, now thoroughly fed up and way off the lead, stopped and examined his car, discovering to his dismay that the culprit was a stray grub screw wedged in the car’s magnet pocket and dragging on the track. It was a triumph of self-restraint that he resisted his urge to throw his car in the nearest bin, and another triumph of self-restraint that everyone else managed not to laugh too loudly at his bad luck. Julian lost two minutes and that was that. Stone last. A disaster.
Meanwhile, Neil had been driving one of his best races for a long time, battling closely with Chris and eventually beating him to third place, his first podium visit since August 2022.
The “miscalculation of the race” award went to David, who’d been struggling to match Simon’s pace but hadn’t quite given up. Midway through heat 5, Simon crashed, his car launching skyward. David, just behind, calculated that he needn’t slow down and instead could drive underneath Simon’s car before it landed and claw back some of his four-second deficit. It was a bad miscalculation. Simon’s car returned from orbit sooner than expected, landing directly on top of David’s car, the resulting huge crash destroying both the front of David’s car and what little chance he had left of beating Simon. Still, as amusing as that crash was to the watching marshals, it was a mere sideshow to the main event, Julian’s nightmare. The final result was Simon from David from Neil.
So that’s it for F1 2023. Congratulations to Simon who won the class championship, Lee who was second and Neil in third. Some drivers will be sad to see F1 finished for the year. Julian absolutely definitely isn’t one of them!