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January 18, 2023 3:38 pm  #11

Re: Slow and steady wins the race

Chapter Eleven: France

'We'll need an extension soon if you keep on winning' Marianna joked to Lukas as he looked at the trophy cabinet which had now swelled in size thanks to the efforts of both him and Oscar since the opening race ofthe new season

Lukas shared a smile with the Canox receptionist. She wasn't the only reason he spent so much time at the factory but he liked seeing her nevertheless.

He managed to pull himself away when Keely beckoned him over

'You need to read this before the briefing' she said. Devon - who nobody had heard from since he disappeared after the race in Monte Carlo - had resurfaced to post a message on his website

Lukas read it carefully. It was alleging that he had violated the rules by not pitting for fuel during the Monaco Grand Prix and - since he had attended the meal at the Palace alone - must be gay if he couldn't find a girlfriend

'Do you want me to make it a banned topic' Keely asked him

'No, I'll address it if I'm asked' Lukas told her. And address it he did. He informed the assembled press corp that the regulations allowed him to do his rather unorthodox strategy.

'They state that we can refuel the cars, not that we should' he responded making sure to emphasise the appropriate words

'Do you expect then that Devon will use that strategy himself at some point this season?' a reporter asked

'If he wishes to do so, there is nothing to stop him if he wants to' Lukas replied, although he knew in reality that he never would. He wasn't the kind of driver who could pull the strategy off'

The questions moved onto his private life and he politely explained that 'no, I am not gay, I am in fact straight. I'm not currently in a relationship at this time for reasons of my own. Those reasons will remain private until I wish to disclose them'

The press briefing continued until it broke up five minutes later.

Lukas and Oscar then took their leave and walked across the factory to where Toyota were manufacturing their engines for the upcoming French GP. The circuit at Paul Ricard had a two long straights and they were discussing the latest engine update.

While they walked they discussed not the press conference but the fact that Paul Ricard was the latest venue for Hot Laps, a fan experience that allowed ticket holders to ride a lap round the circuit in a supercar. Oscar had done a session at Albert Park and Lukas had done one in Jerez. Paul Ricard would be the first time both Canox drivers had taken part.

It was well timed as the Canox team had been over subscribed for Hot Laps thanks to their performance over the previous five races.

After Lukas and Oscar had toured the engine facility and been given the technical details of their latest  update, it was time to get ready for France

The World Champion arrived still in a bad mood after Monaco. The FIA had fined him for his non attendance at the podium and the subsequent press conferences and had reminded him of his responsibilities. To make it doubly clear they had withdrawn his second place trophy

'It doesn't bother me' he snapped. 'Second IS first place of the losers anyway'

'Butler should count himself lucky his team still need him' Branko Tomovic told his driver. 'I don't think Aidan is going to help him much'

Lukas grinned and resumed helping the mechanics get the spare car ready. The team were taking part in the Medical Extraction test. Every round one team had to supply a car and a driver for this purpose.

Ronny Robinson soon arrived in her overalls for the test and started to tie her long muddy brown hair into a braid before putting her balaclava and helmet on

'Will's noticed that the last three races he attended we ended up winning' she told Lukas with a grin. 'So I've got him booked in for another five races this year'

Lukas shot the third driver a smirk and after determining everything was ready went off for his Hot Laps session.

Every driver took four ticket holders round the track and their were five members of the field taking part in the morning session; Lukas, Aiden, Sebastian Vettel, Esteban Ocon and George Russell. Lukas greeted the other four drivers and waited for his first passenger

'Hello' an Australian girl greeted as she stepped in. Lukas recognised her as Holly who he had met at Albert Park in the fan zone. She had greeted him with a hug and thanked him for choosing her team to drive for and wished him luck for the upcoming season. She also had a fan vlog on YouTube giving her reviews on the races, and Lukas had privately noted that most of these reviews resulted in her crying quite a bit.

'Nice to see you Holly' Lukas greeted. 'Are you ready?' His passenger nodded her ascent and when it was Lukas' turn to go he moved away.

The Circuit de Castellet had been given a face lift since the F1 circus rolled around. Gone was the 176 layouts and day glo tarmac run off. In its place was grass and gravel and it looked a much more aesthetically pleasing experience. He drove skilfully but carefully round the circuit, but just quick enough for Holly to squeal with fright

He brought her back to the pit straight and she gave him a hug goodbye.

Once Lukas had completed his Hot Laps session it was time for Free Practice 2. He ended the day 8th on the time sheets but confident he could get quicker

In qualifying Oscar did out qualify him but only marginally. He was 4th and Lukas 5th. Devon had given his team an almighty scare by going too far over a kerb coming onto the pit straight and nearly hammering his car into the wall opposite. Luckily he just held it

After another morning warm up Lukas once again topped the time sheets. Motorsports journalists were quick to point out that this was the fourth time he had headed a session prior to the race and he had won on the previous two. Did this mean he would win again?

'Not necessarily' he told Claire on the grid 'But I do feel I'm in good shape for the race, we'll see what happens'

In the race he managed his usual trick of getting to the front on another unorthodox strategy, this time running a three stopper. He was just building himself a buffer to Devon behind him when Lance Stroll managed to do what Devon hadn't in qualifying and slam into the pit wall.

The Safety Car was deployed immediately but because of where the field was at that point, it didn't immediately pick up the leader but Devon

This meant Lukas was driving around waiting for the Safety Car to pick him up. However Branko had some news for him on that front

'Devon has hit the Safety Car and Sebastian has run into the back of him' he informed him over the radio.

What is he doing? Lukas wondered to himself. Charlie Whiting F1's Race Director came on the radio asking him to act as the Safety Car for a lap as 'Bernd needs to change cars as he has a puncture'

The resulting mess took a while to clear up and it took eight laps of stabilised conditions to make the track race worthy. Because of his three stop strategy, Lukas lost his lead to the two Ferrari's - who were having an upturn in form following their shocking start to the year and their 4-5 finish at Monaco.

However he did what he did best, put his head down and get on with it and thanks to his speed on the straights managed to overtake both Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc to take the Chequered Flag and a clear lead in the Championship

Last edited by reptongeek (January 18, 2023 4:16 pm)

Security will run you down hard
And I will lead them on a merry chase

January 20, 2023 8:31 am  #12

Re: Slow and steady wins the race

Chapter Twelve: The Hole Gets Deeper

Jeff was at the factory. Next time out was the Canadian GP before the second half of the European season.

So how were things so far. Well the team was a few million dollars lighter and they had scored decent points, but they were the World Champions and there was no such thing as decent points. They had to be outstanding points.

Granted they didn't need to panic yet, they could still reduce the slide but as of this moment Brian didn't know how.

He didn't know how to control his drivers. Aiden had been summoned to the factory after France, because it was felt that whilst he had finished ahead of Oscar he could and perhaps should have finished ahead of one or both Ferrari's

However he hadn't answered the summons, gambling Jeff supposed on the fact that since Devon still had his drive after his antics in Monaco, he could do what he wanted too.

Jeff didn't want to be here, he wanted to visit his niece Daniela and her wife Lynn in their new home. Previously they had rented a flat off Daniela's parents but after two and a half years decided to take the plunge and buy a house of their own. Instead he was stuck in hell, trying to do a job he wasn't sure he liked anymore trying to control a driver who seemed to want to get himself fired

'Being a good boy didn't help Lukas much did it' Aiden told him over the phone. 'He did everything that was expected of him, and because he had a low speed crash he lost his drive'

Jeff had to admit there he did have a point. Lukas' firing from the previous season was looking more harsh as the weeks unfolded. He hadn't told Jeff what went wrong that day, possibly because having been given the hairdryer treatment by Brian he wasn't going to be believed

With nothing else to do Jeff decided to go down to archives and see if he could explain why Lukas' mysterious crash had taken place.

It didn’t take him long to find the relevant file and he scrolled through it minutely. He soon found what he was looking for but before he could examine it closely, his phone went off.

It was Nicole and she sounded in a terrible state

'I'm on my way' Jeff said. He carefully took a picture of the relevant piece of information that he had found and drove to the meeting spot

'He's filed for divorce' Nicole sobbed, tears streaming down her face. 'What am I going to do now?'

It took a while for Jeff to get all the details but in essence after Devon had reappeared at Paul Ricard him and Nicole had a row. Quite understandably because Devon had just left her in Monte Carlo without so much as a text message

During the row Nicole had told him that maybe Lukas was a better driver and Devon had thrown her out. Two days later he had wrecked his car against the Safety Car

Jeff was angry, more angry than he thought he would ever feel. Devon was turning into a five year old child and he seemingly didn't care who he was going to hurt. He wanted to win the World Championship even if he had to burn down the whole world to do it

Jeff took her to a hotel for the next week until she could fly out to Canada which ironically took place in her birth city, to give her time to think

When he saw again at the airport she was feeling much better. Well as much that could be expected

'I'm going to find my ex' she told him with tears in her eyes 'If She'll have me back, which she might not I did break her heart quite severely'

A tear ran down her left cheek

'Can you do me one last favour' Jeff said that he would

'Apologise to Lukas for me' she said as another tear ran down her cheek. 'I believed everything Butler told me, so I was so mean to him.'

She wiped her tears as a third and a fourth tear fell

'And tell him to kick Butler's arse'

Security will run you down hard
And I will lead them on a merry chase
     Thread Starter

January 22, 2023 12:31 pm  #13

Re: Slow and steady wins the race

Chapter Thirteen: Canada

'Did you hear the news about Nicole' Keely asked Claire. They were having dinner at Keely's favourite restaurant in Montreal the day before first practice

Claire had decided to wear a knee length sleeveless black dress with white trim round the neck and sleeves and a white pleat at the back with a black jacket. On her feet she wore her black stiletto knee high boots. Keely was in a purple top and black trousers

The young reporter nodded in response to the question. She had received the notification as she was getting ready and had to fix her make up afterwards, because tears had run down her cheeks

'I'm worries about Lukas' Keely told her her eyes full of tears. One of them welled over her left eye and sat incongruously on her lash refusing to fall

'He's not saying much, but I know he's hurting. He still has friends in the Audi team who are suffering because he's winning and Devon isn't'

Her tear surrendered to gravity and began slowly trickling down her cheek.

'Could you do some investigating for me?' Keely asked 'Find out why he hates him so much'

'I'll do what I can' Claire promised. Keely's tear had now reached half way down her left cheek and she wiped it away. Claire suddenly felt a small attack of 'stage fright'. She was beginning to fall for the beautiful PA, but she needed to find out if she liked girls. However she only managed to get half her question out before their main course arrived.

After that she was too nervous to repeat her inquiry and they continued their meal. However once she had parted from Keely later that night, she received a text from her;

'In answer to your question; 'Sometimes'. And you did look really beautiful tonight'. Claire closed her phone as tears ran down her cheeks again

The following day proved unpleasant for one driver in particular. Throughout the Montreal circuit there were signs telling Devon to 'go home'. And those were the more polite ones. There were several that were far too rude to broadcast.

In addition all of his previous mistakes starting from Winter Testing that season had been compiled by one YouTuber into a video that had gone viral. The final clip (hammering the point home) was of Lukas having a small lock-up entering a straight in Malaysia - amazingly enough his only mistake that year.

Devon certainly didn't help his cause spinning into the gravel at Turn 6 and damaging his front wing causing Callum to throw his headphones to the ground in frustration

When qualifying had been completed however, the World Champion was on pole again with Lukas and Oscar in 4th and 6th

Race day saw an increase in the ambient temperature and Devon top morning warm up for the first time since China. However Lukas was still in second

The first corner had it's customary tangle as Aiden broke his front wing against the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, and Lukas rose to 2nd behind Devon.

His teammate wasn't doing too badly either scything his way through the field to lie 3rd behind his teammate. Lukas seemed to have the measure of him though.

A crash at Turn 4 on Lap 23 brought out the Safety Car and the Canox cars decided to double stack in the pits for more tyres and fuel. This dropped them down a couple of places but they were still in a good position in 6th and 7th. Aiden using his car to great effect was fighting his way up the order and was now 11th

When the Safety Car came in on Lap 27, Lukas and Oscar started rising up the field until they had reached their 2nd and 3rd places again. Lukas began closing down the gap to Devon who was losing his patience with backmarkers wanting blue flags to clear the way for him

On Lap 32 he got more testy as Lukas was right up his gearbox and so was Mick Schumacher who was ahead of him. Coming into the last corner Lukas smartly overtook both Devon and Mick to take the lead and the crowd roared their approval.  A lap later Oscar also overtook Devon to put himself into second. This Claire thought would be a huge fillip for the Aussie if he could bring it home, as it would be his first podium since Malaysia

Lukas and Oscar it appeared didn't have to stop again and began stretching away from Devon who now had his teammate to contend with in fourth. But surprisingly Aiden was holding a gap of about ten seconds to his Number 1

Why was this? Claire wondered. The previous year when Lukas had been behind Devon when they did all those 1-2 finishes he had done the same

Can't you cope with the pressure, Devon she thought savagely. After the Audi's had pitted the Canox's dropped their pace at the front and concentrated on bringing it home.

However there suddenly was some bad news. Oscar on Lap 65 radioed that he had a gearbox problem and dropped out. The following Lap Lukas had the same problem, but managed to keep going. On Lap 67 however leading onto the final corner he had to surrender his lead to Devon.

Claire was so disappointed and tears streamed down her face. This was such bad luck. As if to increase the woe, on the last lap Lukas suddenly suffered a break in his front wing. Skilfully he crossed the line still in second place but wisely decided to park his car onto the grass surrounding Turn 2.

The Canadian crowd usually so voluble were completely silent as the World Champion lapped the circuit. He had closed the gap to six points in the drivers championship but Lukas was still ahead on 49. Oscar's retirement meant that the gap in the Constructors championship was only four points 63-59.

Interviewing Sam Michael and Oscar after the race was not a pleasant experience for Claire. She had to remain professional despite hurting herself and wanting to cry. The Audi team celebrated their result in extravagant fashion but that didn't change the fact their win was inherited.

Lukas despite his disappointment, had professionally and with great courtesy gone through the podium ceremony and subsequent press conferences. Already the fans on Twitter were already reminding everyone this was the complete opposite of Monaco. The Canox driver even managed a joke as he talked about his front wing.

'I had a Marmot run across the track and unfortunately I couldn't avoid him' he explained 'Obviously he thought I needed another challenge or something'

He continued that him and his team would pick themselves up and go to the next one. Claire smiled through her tears. She wiped them away and continued her duties

Security will run you down hard
And I will lead them on a merry chase
     Thread Starter

January 24, 2023 2:54 pm  #14

Re: Slow and steady wins the race

Chapter Fourteen: Great Britain

Lukas leading up to the British Grand Prix attended the factory as much as he could. The previous round in Canada had promised so much, but in the end the racing gods had unfortunately determined it wasn’t to be their day

There was a lot of sympathy for the Canox team considering the way they had lost their 1-2 finish. There hadn't been much for the Audi team, especially since Devon had let it be known that Lukas deserved a penalty for not completing the slowing down lap

He really needs to read the regulations properly Lukas said to himself as he knew that you were allowed to stop in a safe place if you were suffering from an obvious problem. Or in this case two obvious problems

Lukas also wondered why Devon hated him so much. His divorce from his wife after one argument had been so sudden and so unnecessary that there had to be an explanation somehow

Keely had some information for him on that score.

'Claire sent this over' she told him. It was a news article about the Karting World Championship Lukas had won when he was nine. His championship rival had been Devon.

'There must be more to it than that' Lukas said not quite believing this was the only explanation. And yet what explanation was there. Their respective careers had diverged following their stint in karts, Devon had gone into British Formula Ford, then Formula 4, GP3, GP2 and finally F1.

Lukas by contrast had won a championship in German Formula Ford, spent a couple of years in Formula 4 and spent a year in Indycar then Sports cars before graduation to F1

Keely promised she would keep digging and they moved on with their day

The first day of practice at the British GP was conducted under cloudy skies that threatened to dump their load onto the track. Everyone it appeared was waiting for the wet weather. Except Lukas who was planning on going out for Free Practice 1.

'You should go out too' he advised Oscar. His teammate had struggled since winning the Malaysian GP and had only two five places since. He seemed to be having the bad luck in the Canox team as he would have been further up but for his crash in Monaco and the gearbox failure in Canada. The two of them had worked with the engineers to fix the problem though and Lukas was hopeful the problem wouldn't happen again

It was a very bare FP1. Of the field only the Canox, Alpha Tauri, Haas and Alpine teams went out. Everyone else stayed inside. Presumably waiting for the rain which ironically didn't come until the session was over

The rain continued for the next two days, producing a very topsy turvy grid in qualifying with both Haas, one Alpha Tauri and one Alpine making the top ten. Lukas and Oscar were 7th and 8th but hopeful of a better result. Aidan was on pole behind Devon who looked like thunder in the press conference

'The regulations say I have to be here, they don't say I have to answer any questions' he snapped

'I'm so sick of this idiot' Branko told Lukas. 'How you spent two years with the guy without punching him I will never know'

Lukas just grinned. Devon's mood even extended to Hot Laps. He was due to appear but cancelled at the last minute so all his laps were given to Fernando Alonso

On the Sunday the British weather always so fickle turned on it's head after Morning Warm-Up and the sun came out baking down onto the track. The teams who hadn't gone out for FP1 started lobbying Charlie for an Acclimatisation Practice which he duly agreed with although he wasn't happy about essentially being bullied into it

Not surprisingly the teams that had gone out for the first dry practice on the Friday did well in the extra session. Lukas headed his teammate Oscar and the others were behind. The Audi's were 11th and 12th

At the start Devon got bogged down and his teammate held onto the lead. Thanks to the more suitable setups on their cars the Canox's rose up the order, finally overtaking Aiden to lie 1-2 again. Then on Lap 28, Lukas noticed a smoking Audi by the side of the track.

'It's Devon' Branko reported. 'He had an engine failure' Unfortunately 4 laps later, mechanical gremlins would hit Oscar's car as well. Lukas did feel for his teammate a little. Lady luck just wasn't with him this year.

The race continued, Lukas' only rival for the win was Aiden in second place. However he seemed reluctant to actually fight opting to stay within ten seconds of him.

Finally on the last couple of laps he came alive setting the Fastest Lap. What message he was hoping to send by this bizarre display, Lukas never quite knew.

Fernando Alonso joined them on the podium behind Lando Norris, Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc. With Devon not scoring again, Lukas was getting further away from him in the standings. He was on 59 points and his rival was on 39 and the gap in the Constructors was now up to eight between Canox and Audi 73-65

Next round was Lukas' home race in Germany. He was bound to have a wonderful reception and privately hoped after he had completed his media obligations that he could win there too

Security will run you down hard
And I will lead them on a merry chase
     Thread Starter

January 26, 2023 8:35 pm  #15

Re: Slow and steady wins the race

Chapter Fifteen: Germany

'For heavens sake Brian, you can't be serious' Jeff told him, trying to keep his anger rising. He had heard rumours that the team had lodged a protest with the FIA about the Canox team and had requested a full factory audit. It didn't take long for Jeff to find out that the rumours were true and Devon was behind the protest

'You know they aren't going to find anything.'

'You don't know that Jeff' Brian interrupted. 'Devon has concerns about them...'

'He's just flexing his bruised ego' Jeff responded his voice rising a little. 'He needs to start doing his job'


Jeff took his leave before he ended up breaking something. It was true Aiden was underperforming. But that was what happened when you told your number 2 driver his points weren't relevant to the championship challenge

And it could scarcely be said Devon was doing much better. Yes he had three wins on the board but both his Chinese win and his Canadian win were inherited, And the volume of incidents he had had up to this point had not only become an Internet meme, but they were contributing to the wasted budget that could be used for upgrades

The Canox team by contrast didn't have anything like the accident damage that Audi had. Lukas had made only one driving mistake all year - including Winter Testing - and that was so small it barely warranted a mention. And Oscar had only broken one front wing and a couple of suspension arms

Adding to the problems, Devon wasn't doing any of his promotional appearances. He frequently cancelled them at the last minute, forcing Aiden to do them instead

So while Jeff didn't exactly agree with Aiden deliberately underperforming, it had to be said his life wasn't being made very easy

Devon added to his ever lengthening rap sheet on the Friday between practice sessions, crashing a brand new Audi R8 Spyder into the barriers during his Hot Laps session, injuring his passenger into the bargain.

'God, what a mess!' A frustrated Callum said to Jeff. 'When is this going to end?'

Jeff noted that Callum never used the F word ever, so this was a sign that things were getting really bad

'I don't know, but it had better end soon, or we will lose our championships' Jeff told him

Devon pulled it together for qualifying by putting it on pole, Lewis Hamilton was alongside him on the front row with Lukas, Lando Norris, Oscar and Robert Kubica making up the top six. Aiden was down in eighth thanks to a very inconvenient trip to the weighbridge and his electrics packing up halfway through his final flying lap

It was a similar story in morning warm up with Lukas topping the times again. He was interviewed by Claire on the grid who asked him about the factory audit

'It's not ideal, and it does impact our race preparation a little, but I trust the team implicitly and we will be vindicated when the process is complete' he told her.

He didn't however have the best of starts. Devon managed to maintain his pole position at the start with Lewis behind him, however the jostling at the start put Lukas on the back foot and he had to take to the gravel when Lando spun, putting him behind his teammate for a while.

The crowd seemed to love the battle between the two Canox's and it lasted five laps until Lukas smartly and expertly overtook Oscar at the first corner and he was away. Ahead of him was Aiden and he started to chase him down.

A couple of laps later, Aiden surrendered his 4th place at the Veedol S Chicane moving the Championship leader into third. He then put the hammer down to chase after Lewis his next target.

Devon meanwhile was encountering back markers and was getting very jittery and sweary over the radio. Lewis pitted giving Lukas second place which almost immediately became the lead when Devon lost patience behind Mick Schumacher and cannoned into the back of him, taking them both out.

Callum initially was very calm, taking off his headphones only to then succumb to his anger - that had clearly been on a slow boil since Malaysia - and slammed them into his monitor in front of him, breaking the glass and sending sparks all over the place. He then had to leave immediately to be treated for a cut hand that was bleeding profusely

Luckily the Safety Car had come out so there was a bit of a breather. Jeff informed his driver of the new circumstances. He was third behind Lukas and Lewis Hamilton and in front of Lando Norris, Robert Kubica and Oscar.

When the Safety Car came in, Lukas maintained his lead, but Lando lost his 4th place to Robert when the field returned to the pit straight. A couple of laps later, Aiden had a small slide coming out of one corner but managed to hold it before he spun.

Brian however clearly smarting about Devon's earlier crash, interrupted Jeff to criticise his Number 2 driver and that set off a volcanic eruption of unparalleled ferociousness

Over the course of the next two laps Aiden turned the air a deep crimson with his language. Jeff had never heard the F word so many times in four minutes as he had during this rant. He even managed to snuck in a couple of C words too. He ended his stream of swearing by not only posting the fastest lap, but by unplugging his radio

This could be hugely problematic, as Aiden still needed to pit along with the two drivers in front of him. There was nothing for it but to just put the request on his put board and hope he saw it

Luckily he did and he went on his way still in 3rd position. Lukas and Lewis would pit together and swap positions thanks to a cleaner pit stop from the McLaren team. However Lukas would get I back again when he overtook Lewis with 5 laps to go at the hairpin.

And that was how it finished, with Robert, Lando and Oscar coming home behind the podium trio.

Jeff knew his driver would be in severe trouble for his foul mouthed tirade over the radio and so went to Brian to convince him to not fire him. The fact that Devon had crashed again made it easier

Lukas was now more than a win ahead in the championship and could afford a retirement at the next round.

Devon however couldn't. He needed to finish and finish well. Because on this form Lukas was going to be hard to stop

Security will run you down hard
And I will lead them on a merry chase
     Thread Starter

January 28, 2023 2:27 pm  #16

Re: Slow and steady wins the race

Chapter Sixteen: Hungary

'Hey, what are you doing here' Claire greeted Keely as she walked through the streets of Budapest

'Just exploring, you?'

'Recording a piece for Channel 4' Claire said. She would so love to just be able to date Lukas' PA but knew she had to be professional. She had after all been told to not fall in love

It took 3 hours to record her short piece for the F1 coverage and soon she was back at her hotel, wondering what this race would have in store

In the gap between races, a YouTuber had posted the last uncensored radio message from Aiden. Claire hadn't listened to all of it so shocked was she by the mountain of swearing

Those who managed to stomach the fulsome use of sexual expletives in Iambic Pentameter fell into broadly three camps; Those who found his language funny, those who supported him and those who thought he should know his place and should be sacked. One fan called AlicialovesF1 said in her comment that whilst she couldn't condone his language, she did feel sympathy for his point of view giving multiple examples, the most pertinent being that Lukas had been sacked for a simple crash that was still unexplained

Stripping away the near sixty uses of the F word and all four of it's derivatives the message was clear. Aiden had had enough of the sport and would be leaving at the end of the year

Claire wasn't sure which camp she fell into or whether or not she even should. Her mind was such a tangle of emotions and she couldn't straighten them out

For his part, Aiden when asked in the Friday Five press conference simply stated that he had said all there was to say and had nothing further to add

Outside of this bombshell, it was easy to forget that there was a race on. Qualifying producing a bit of a shock when Oscar qualifying second behind
Devon. Lukas was in 5th with the Ferrari's separating him from his teammate. Aiden was in eighth behind the two McLarens but ahead of the Williams of Robert Kubica

For the first time this European season, Lukas was not top of the standings in the final practice before the race. He was however third behind his title rival and his teammate

At the start everyone got through the first corner okay, Lukas moving up two places. Aiden lost a place to Robert at the start and so the circulating began. It was widely accepted this wasn't going to be the finest race of the year and after the first round of pitstops the order was maintained; Devon, Oscar, Lukas, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz ,Lewis, Lando, Robert and Aiden

Finally on Lap 35 something incredible happened. Well it wasn’t really Claire thought to herself but it did make her feel happier.

Oscar managed to overtake Devon into the first corner and immediately stretched away. A lap or two later they encountered a group of back markers and the gap reduced a little

Then out of the blue, the red flag started to be flown throughout the circuit. The three backmarkers of Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly and Nikita Mazepin had collided at the top of the circuit. Lukas cool as you like had parked on the grass as numerous bits of car whistled past him. The resultant debris was so significant that Charlie had no choice but to stop the race

Now this was going to be interesting Claire thought. They were in very much uncharted territory now

The field assembled back on the grid at the red flag line as stipulated in the regulations. Lukas had got going again, but in a radio message to his team he informed them he would have to retire as he had been pushed by a Marshall.

'I was pinned after the incident, I couldn't go forward or backwards' he told Claire. 'And the engine has a safety feature that cuts it out after a few minutes. It is a shame as I was having a good race, but this is F1'

'As I understand it we are on corrected time now is that right?' Claire asked him

'Yes the gaps carry over to the second part so even if Devon overtakes Oscar he must be more than a second away from him to take the lead. We can't do much work on the cars, we can top up the water for cooling and the drivers behind the incident can change their tyres for safety but that is all'

Claire thanked Lukas for his comments and he left. He seemed philosophical about his retirement, unlike Devon who wasn't very polite at Silverstone after his engine blew. He had obviously been informed about Lukas' retirement as he immediately called for his disqualification over the radio

'If you get a push, it's a black flag' he told his race engineer who replied back (with a patience that seemed to Claire to be fading every minute), that Lukas had retired his car and wouldn't be taking the restart

After a delay of 30 minutes or so, a second formation lap was called and the restart was underway. Unlike the first start there was a casualty at the first corner as Aiden spun into the gravel into retirement. Devon managed to get into the lead, but according to the official classification would only take the lead if the gap to Oscar was more than 1.182 seconds

While the first part of the race had been very dreary, this second part was proving to be a tense race against the watch. And Claire was wanting to bite her fingernails

The second round of pitstops happened without major incident and this put Oscar into the aggregate lead of 4.513 seconds. He didn't Claire reminded herself have to overtake Devon. Just stick to him like glue.

The two commentators Ben Edwards and David Coulthard did their best to iron out the confusion for the viewing public and soon after 39 laps the chequered flag flew.

To Claire’s delight, Oscar had managed to maintain his lead and crossed the line 1.179 seconds ahead on aggregate to win by just 0.003 seconds. Behind them Lewis had managed to beat one Ferrari - Charles - on corrected time and was fourth. Carlos was fifth and Robert was sixth

Devon was very upset over the radio, swearing like a trooper. Claire decided she had had enough of F words for one fortnight and went to watch the podium ceremony. Tears of happiness for Oscar ran down her cheeks as the Australian National Anthem played.

The F1 circus was now entering it's four week break, two of those weeks would be a factory shutdown to recharge everyones batteries. Thanks to Oscar's win the Canox team were still in the lead of the Constructors by nineteen points (94-75) and Lukas was still leading the drivers by 20 pts despite not finishing the race

Claire was almost starting to believe a fairytale result could actually happen. She wiped her tears and got ready to interview the non podium finishers

Last edited by reptongeek (January 28, 2023 2:55 pm)

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     Thread Starter

January 30, 2023 2:56 pm  #17

Re: Slow and steady wins the race

Chapter Seventeen: Belgium

A huge weight had been lifted off the Canox team when the circus reconvened at the classic Spa Francorchamps circuit.

The FIA had cleared the team of any wrong doing and published their findings for everyone to read. Lukas hoped the report would finally get Devon off his and his team's back and they could get back to racing.

However Devon wasn't having it. Despite the lack of evidence and the fact that the 'astonishing revelations' he had promised his fans, they only amounted to the fact that the Canox team budget for the year was an economical £65m and Lukas's salary for the year was only £10,000

'I wanted to show the team how committed I was to their project' he told reporters at the Friday Press Conference

He was then asked if he considered himself to have one hand on the title

'No, I still need to win races' he pointed out 'And what better place to start than the next two. Then I will consider myself to have one hand on the trophy'

This last remark had been for Devon, who hadn't been at the press conference but would certainly watch it. Lukas had been careful not to wind him up too much. He still had friends in the team who were no doubt suffering as a result of his increased competitiveness, now he wasn't a slave to team orders

In qualifying once again the two Audi's were 1-2 with Lukas in fourth. Oscar was in seventh just behind Aiden in sixth. The two McLarens were third and fifth Lando ahead of Lewis

The general mood of the paddock changed however in Morning Warm-Up. Oscar had a huge crash in the session shortly before entering Blanchimont the fast left hander. Mercifully he was okay, but he was taken to the medical centre with severe concussion

Lukas went to see him, straight after the session. Oscar's girlfriend Lilly was there with tears streaming down her face. Looking at the young Aussie so distraught at her partner's accident made him think of Marianna. He had tried not to fall in love with her, but it had been no use. He was being dishonest to himself by not admitting it to himself but he couldn't have a relationship with her

'Because you want to protect her don't you?' Keely asked him later, in the privacy of his driver's room.

'You want to protect her, in case you die or are severely injured in a racing car' she continued, as tears ran down her cheeks. Lukas nodded

Keely wiped her tears

'If you'll forgive me for speaking out of turn, but it's already too late. She loves you too, I see it in her eyes when you speak to each other. You can't protect her from the pain anymore, but it should be her choice'

Lukas agreed to speak to Marianna and the subject was closed

As the time for the race approached, a win was more paramount for Lukas than it had been after qualifying since Oscar had been ruled out, meaning for the second time in the season he was driving solo

He managed to get a good start to lie second behind Devon and managed to stabilise the gap. Driving behind him he noted that while Devon was stretching ahead in the first and last sectors he caught him up in the longer second sector

He got his chance to overtake when the Safety Car was deployed on Lap 15 when Carlos Sainz had a puncture approaching Les Combes at the end of the Kemmel Straight.

As Lukas got ready for the Safety Car to come in again, he turned his engine up briefly. Towards the end of Lap 19, he pounced as they both approached the Bus Stop at the end of the lap and he was through

He concentrated on managing the gap which became wider a couple of laps later when Devon outbraked himself and ran over the grass at the very corner where Carlos had crashed a few laps earlier.

Lukas pitted for his final stop on Lap 32 and having turned his engine down, continued to keep an eye on his nearest challengers in the two McLarens.

He was sure as the three cars circulated nose to tail that the tension in the pits was unbearable. They went so fast that the sixth place driver, Sebastian Vettel was lapped two laps from the end as they barrelled down Kemmel Straight.

And that was how they finished. Behind the three podium finishers the two Audi's of Devon and Aiden. By scoring only three points to Lukas's 10, this meant the gap between the two of them at the head of the leaderboard had increased to 27 points (79-52) and the gap in the Constructors championship was now 19 points (94-75)

Oscar was very pleased to hear the result after the race. It had been determined that his tyre had suffered a puncture by a piece of loose debris, the same reason had caused Carlos to retire albeit at slightly slower speed. This did mean however that the Canox team would be without a spare car as they didn't have the staff to build one for the Italian GP

Nevertheless the win was to coin a phrase, exactly what the doctor ordered. Lukas in the break between the Hungarian and Belgian GP's had calculated that two more wins would leave him needing only 23 points from the remaining five rounds. Now Devon had failed to finish on the podium this target would reduce to 20 points if Lukas could win another race before the East Asian races

And he was determined to do just that

Last edited by reptongeek (January 30, 2023 2:57 pm)

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And I will lead them on a merry chase
     Thread Starter

February 1, 2023 1:41 pm  #18

Re: Slow and steady wins the race

Chapter Eighteen: Italy

'Jeff me and Dan are going to the park.' His niece-in-law informed him. 'Do you want to come or do you want to watch the race?'

The scene in the Audi pit at the end of the Belgian Grand Prix was horrible. Nobody was best pleased with Devon for his little spin, and this had sparked an argument that had raged for several minutes



The upshot of this outburst was that Jeff would find himself out of a job. He was glad to be out of there frankly, the toxic atmosphere had got so bad, there wasn't even a measure for it. It was off the scale

He decided he would record the race and go with his niece and her wife to the park.

He genuinely did have a wonderful time, feeding the fish and walking over the grounds. They stopped for lunch at the park, and Jeff didn't think for one minute what was going on in Monza without him

When they got back, the two girls got busy preparing tea leaving Jeff to watch the race

There had been one driver change from Belgium. Oscar for this round had been replaced by third driver Ronny Robinson. She'd acquitted herself well in qualifying with an eighth place grid start.

Aiden was on pole alongside Lewis Hamilton and the two championship contenders were on the second row.

When the lights went out the scramble towards the first chicane jumbled the order a little. It was Lewis, Aiden and Devon as the field went round Curva Grande for the first time. Lukas had got lost in the shuffle and was now behind Ronny in the order

Finally on Lap 5, he overtook his new teammate and set off after Devon. Aiden meanwhile had overtaken Lewis and was setting a blistering pace at the front.

The race proceeded without significant incident apart from the odd retirement. Devon was actually driving well for a change despite Lukas keeping him honest. Lewis then dropped out of the race elevating Devon to second place.

However he didn't seem to be faster than his teammate upfront for some reason.

As the last laps unfolded, a straight forward race exploded into drama. Nikita Mazepin on his 50th lap received the black flag for leaving the pits on the red light as the leaders began Lap 51.

Aiden's car then suddenly slowed at the exit of Ascari and stopped on the apron, triggering a Safety Car. Then just as they were about to start Lap 52, Devon locked his brakes and went skidding into the gravel surrounding Parabolica, letting Lukas into the lead!!

And that was how it finished. Lukas winning the race, Devon second, the two  Ferrari's 3rd and 4th. Sebastian Vettel in the Aston Martin 5th and Ronny Robinson in 6th

Devon's complaints that Lukas's overtake was illegal cut no ice with Charlie Whiting who informed him that he had left the track and Lukas was entitled to take over the lead.

The Canox driver did have the courtesy to point out in the press conference that Aiden had been the moral victor.

Aiden himself had a bombshell revelation when he was interviewed by Claire. He had thought the black flag had been for him, because his teammates tyres had been given to him at his pitstop

'I'm so sick of this crap' he went on. 'How much money has Devon wasted this year? If that had been me I would have been out of a drive by France. But he gets a free pass because he's the Chosen One.'

Jeff stopped the recording, happy to leave this mess to the senior management of Audi

Or at least he did for about three days, when the CEO rang him up. The situation had gotten worse. A lot worse

Callum Gray and his team of mechanics had resigned. Aiden was considering breaking his contract and not travelling to anymore races and it was disclosed that someone on the Audi team did indeed give authorisation to give Aiden his teammates tyres costing Audi the six points in the Constructors that Devon had secured for the team. His own result was unaffected

The CEO wanted Jeff to go back to the team. He told his former boss that he had been fired

'Yes, I know' the CEO sighed. 'Look, it's important for us that we win the championship this year. Our car sales have slumped the last two quarters. It will pick up, but we need the prize money. Aiden wants you back too, it's the only way he'll go to Turkey'

'I'll think about it' Jeff told him and hung up, his head in his hands. He knew that he would debate the matter in his head for days, but would in the end crumble and say yes

And a couple of days later, that is exactly what he did

Last edited by reptongeek (February 1, 2023 3:31 pm)

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     Thread Starter

February 3, 2023 4:53 pm  #19

Re: Slow and steady wins the race

Chapter Nineteen: Turkey

Previously on F1 Claire thought mischievously as she entered the Istanbul Park circuit. Even for her the events of the current season had enough twists for three seasons of Formula 1 Drive To Survive not just one. And she had a standing tradition every January to binge watch Alias and 24, her two favourite TV shows of all time

The championship standings at the end of the European season made depressing reading if you were an Audi fan. Devon required maximum points from every round from here on in and just had to hope that Lukas didn't earn 20 points or he would be champion instead. Going into this thirteenth round he was ahead by 41 points - 89-58 and in the Constructors the gap was thirty points 105-75. The gap would have been closer if the six points from Devon's second place was allowed to stand

'We need 1-2 finishes' Jeff told the Friday Five press conference. Claire had missed him in Italy. There were rumours he had been fired, but Brian had insisted he had just had the last race off due to a 'family emergency'

However nobody bought that for a second as the Ferrari team who had finished a very distant second to the Audi's the previous season, had heard the row in the pit garages after the race in Belgium

Oscar was back too, having recovered from his concussion that caused him to miss Italy. He seemed to have lost none of his speed as he was fastest than his teammate in the practices

Ronny had returned to her third driver duties, and hoped as she told Claire that she could secure a full time drive

'I'd like to think I proved a point in Italy' she said. The young Aussie had finished sixth and in the points following Aiden's late retirement. She'd been '90% happy, 10% not' with her F1 debut, saying she had been a little disappointed with a small trip across the gravel at the second chicane which had cost her a place, but was satisfied with the response from fans and her fellow drivers.

Qualifying followed it's familiar pattern with the two Audi's 1-2 at the head of the grid, Lukas 4th and the returning Oscar 6th. Lewis Hamilton was 3rd, Charles Leclerc 5th and Lando and Carlos were on the 4th row sending the fans in delight at the sight of the two best friends together again

Race day was warm and sunny and Lukas was wanting to extend his advantage as much as possible

'I can't stop pushing' he told Claire on the grid. 'Once Devon gets a run going he's quite difficult to stop as we know. The last time was 20 races, so we need to keep the pressure on'

And keep it on he did. At the start Lukas got a magnificent getaway and powered past into second place behind Devon. Oscar jumped up too to fourth behind Aiden and the field soon settled down.

On Lap 5, Aiden had a daring late braking manoeuvre on Lukas to claim second and he was off too, maintaining that once again familiar ten second gap.

The first of the pit stops took place with Devon and Aiden retaining their advantage, Lukas putting  the hammer down in 3rd to also build a gap back to Oscar

Then on Lap 27 came the shock of the season. Considering what had already happened this season already, this event was seismic. Claire watched the replay in disbelief as she saw Lukas spin into the gravel at the famous Turn 8 corner!

His car was in a dangerous position so the Safety Car had to be deployed, and it didn't take too long to clear. Lukas took a trip on a marshal's scooter to return back to the pits and as the field entered Lap 40, he came to talk to Claire

'There's nothing much to say really except it was just a silly mistake.' He told her ruefully. 'I was trying to create a gap to Oscar for my next pitstop and just put a wheel on the grass on the inside and it spun me round. I'm quite cross with myself, because although these things happen, at this stage of the season it can cost you championships'

Claire let him go, with tears in her eyes. Even though she knew it was a self inflicted mistake, he didn't make them very often. I mean he really didn't. The last time he had made a driver error was back in Malaysia for heaven's sake, and it hadn't cost him anything

The race continued, Devon seemingly finding his mojo again now his title rival was out as his driving had returned to that dull boring metronomic consistency that hadn't been seen since Australia

He predictably won the race ahead of his teammate and scored his second grand slam of the year - his thirteenth overall.

Lewis completed the podium with Oscar in fourth, Carlos and Lando were in fifth and sixth, Charles in the other Ferrari had retired on Lap 50 with a hydraulic problem

The maximum points haul had brought Audi closer to the Canox team, but it was still a gap of 17 points, the Canox team still in the lead with 108. In the drivers the gap had reduced to 21 points. Lukas still in the lead on 89

Devon celebrated extravagantly on the podium making Aiden and Lewis quite uncomfortable. In the press conference he returned to his cocky demeanour telling the press that Lukas had 'choked' and he would come out on top at the end of the year

He was asked by one journalist what he thought when he had seen his title rivals car at the side of the track and he replied with a very sexual remark that would probably get him into hot water

The last four races were approaching rapidly and Devon had just hit form when he needed it most. But would this late spurt be enough

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     Thread Starter

February 5, 2023 4:28 pm  #20

Re: Slow and steady wins the race

Chapter Twenty: Singapore

Lukas had a lot to think about on the plane to the next round. He had seen Devon's press conference at the Turkish Grand Prix, and disagreed with his assertion that he had 'choked'

Nevertheless he was worried that he was tightening up a little. This was looking like more than ever his one chance to win a Driver's title and if he didn't do it this year, he might not get another chance.

Devon meanwhile was certain to get another one, but he was also vastly more experienced at winning titles. In his junior career after karting he had won title after title. Lukas by contrast had just entered his teenage years when he had won his last championship some 15 years ago

He talked this over with his teammate Oscar. Like Devon he had won three championships in a row and had recent experience at title run ins. The Aussie was able to help him and it comforted him

Ronny Robinson had also watched the press conference, and seen his later social media posts where he expounded on his theories to his fans

'I used to be like him once' she admitted 'I had to win everything too, even if it was a game of table football. This one guy at high school invited me over to his house once, so I could meet his friends and I was a bit obnoxious'

'What changed?' Lukas asked

'A wise person told me, 'Taking part is fun, winning is something that happens to one of the participants'' she explained. 'I played another game and lost, and realised it wasn't so bad. I must have changed quite a bit, as that's how I met my boyfriend Will'

Lukas reflected on the fact that although Ronny hadn't won any championships herself, she hadn't done too badly, winning the Monaco and Italian rounds in Porsche Super Cup the previous season. It was partly down to this success that had got her the Canox drive

They soon landed in Singapore and it was time for business. This was the venue of Formula 1's only night race, as a result they would be staying on European time for the duration of the weekend. The race instead of starting shortly after 1pm local time, would instead start shortly after 7pm. Like Albert Park and Monaco it was a street circuit with painted lines which had to be dealt with, along with the infamous Singapore Sling chicane, which claimed two victims during Free Practice in the shape of Williams driver Nicolas Latifi and Racing Point's Lance Stroll

This meant the early practice sessions would actually take place in daylight, which did make setting up cars difficult. To help Oscar who had been struggling in his first year in the sport - his two wins notwithstanding - Lukas shared his set up data with Oscar's mechanics

And it certainly helped the two Canox's qualifying 3rd and 5th behind the Audi's. The two McLarens of Lando and Lewis keeping them company in 4th and 6th. Robert Kubica was in 7th ahead of the two Ferrari's of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz

On the grid Lukas told Claire he was going for the win

'After the retirement in Turkey, I can't take it easy' he told her. 'I mean, I couldn't anyway, but I really can't now. If I want this championship I have to go for the win, I have no choice now'

Claire wished him luck and soon the field was ready to start the race. Lukas got a great start powering his way between the Audi's. Further back there was a tangle in the first corner with Yuki Tsunoda losing his front wing into the rear of Esteban Ocon who lost his rear wing.

Further round the lap, Pierre Gasly hit the wall giving him a puncture. The Safety Car however wasn't required and the race carried on.

On Lap 20, Aiden got past Lukas in a brave move entering Turn 5. Devon was doing his usual and stretching away in the lead leaving everyone else to fight behind him. However this was Singapore and the Safety Car was required on Lap 27, when Charles Leclerc crashed at the infamous chicane, breaking a suspension arm

When the field got ready to resume green flag racing at the end of Lap 30, Devon for whatever reason was backing the pack up a little too harshly. The field fanned out in order to avoid hitting each other and Lukas noticed that he had just nosed ahead of Aiden as they entered the pit straight

Devon hit the gas and disappeared round the first corner, however there was a small crash at the back that put out Fernando Alonso and the two Alpha Tauri's of Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda. It also brought out the Safety Car again at the end of Lap 31.

While they were travelling around behind the Aston Martin, Lukas informed his team that he thought he had overtaken Aiden under yellows.

'You're not the only one, mate' Branko informed him. 'Five other drivers had the same issue, the stewards are investigating now'

When the Turn 1 debris was cleared, it was time for Take 2 and Devon had obviously been told off as he streaked away without backing the pack up this time, and Lap 35 was incident free.

The stewards then handed out 10 second Stop-Go Penalties to six drivers for overtaking under yellows. Lukas being one of them. He took his as soon as the notification came through and emerged in 16th place.

Luckily he had a plan, essentially doing the reverse of what he had done in Australia, and when he pitted again on Lap 38 for fuel, he took on a short fuel load and blitzed his competitors when he emerged.

At one point on Lap 45 he overtook three cars as he fought his way up. By the time the race had reached Lap 60, he was in fifth just seven seconds behind the two Aston Martin's of Sebastian Vettel and Casper Ackerman

Deciding to turn the engine down he followed them home. Devon got his second consecutive win with Aiden behind him, Casper in third, Sebastian in fourth and (showing how the myriad of stop-go's had interfered with the race) ahead of Nicholas Latifi in the Williams. Oscar came home a very unhappy seventh

'He was a bit of a smarty pants behind the Safety Car' Lukas told Claire in the interview pen afterwards. 'He didn't need to back the pack up that much'

The result of the race meant that in the Driver's Championship, Lukas' lead was cut further to 13 points (91-78). More worryingly the Audi team's two perfect scores had put them in striking distance to the Canox team, just eight points behind (120-112)

Lukas observed several other drivers and team personnel remonstrating with Devon in the interviews, including the Haas team principal Guenther Steiner who never needed an invitation to lose his temper at the best of times. He called on the stewards to give him a race ban for his slow driving during the first Safety Car

However the Canox driver had enough things to worry about. His points buffer was now worryingly almost gone. He needed a win and two seconds from the next three races. Otherwise his title hopes would be in tatters

Last edited by reptongeek (February 8, 2023 4:12 pm)

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And I will lead them on a merry chase
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