Season 2 of the V10 R-League got underway this week, and the early results show one thing; The team that gets the strategy right will walk away with the points.
Sim racing has always had fine margins. While the V10 R-League allows for more contact and wheel-to-wheel racing than other series, it is in the strategic thinking and team-first driving where the edge is to be found.
Communication is key
When we spoke to some of the drivers before the season started, it was all about ironing out small mistakes and keeping the communication smooth.
That has played out in the early stages of Season 2.
From being flexible with who takes your joker lap in the relay race to creating a traffic jam in the team race, so far it has been the smartest team that has walked away with the points.
And that battle starts before the engines even switch on...
Pick/ban track selection creating challenges already
The new system for track selection, which sees each team nominate a "home" circuit for their leg of the match, sees the strategy battle start early.
New for Season 2, Mugello has already been a favourite for teams that see themselves as having a pace edge. Redline selected the twisty Tuscan track for their opening bout with Yas Heat. While Williams did the same against JAESA Suzuki.
The top two teams from Season 1 clearly saw the advantage in having a track that is tricky to overtake at, as they romped to victory around the Italian circuit. BMW did likewise to Team Fordzilla, though it didn't quite go to plan for the German outfit, who split the Mugello races with Fordzilla.
As the season progresses though, we should start to teams ban Mugello, in favour of tracks that are a little more friendly to overtaking and slipstreaming.
Leave your ego at the door
There is no Drivers' Championship in the V10 R-League, it's all about being the best overall team. That means flipping a very stubborn switch for drivers.
Usually the most important thing for a driver is to beat their teammate. In the V10 R-League that can be highly counterproductive. With first place in the team race comes at least a draw, which means being P1 and having a rear-gunner at P2 is vital.
This is something Redline Team Principal Diederik Kinds highlighted before the season, and his wisdom is really shining thought now:
“Even though our drivers weren’t equally fast on every track, everyone has a role to play. Doesn’t matter if you are a good hotlapper. In a race if you manage to keep the guy behind you, if you’re good at defending, that’s fantastic. It really brought out different skills in everybody.”
Keeping someone behind you whilst trying to pilot a 900BHP, V10 monster is no easy thing but the teams that have retained drivers from Season 1, like Williams and Redline, have done a great job already of working together to do what is needed, and not squabbling over a position.
Battling on track is a good way to lose time, and in the end the V10 R-League is as much against the clock as it is against another team.
New drivers, like YAS Heat's trio of Simon Weigang, Cedric Thome, and Manuel Biancolilla are used to battling every car they see. They will need to learn the synergy that established lineups already have.
The first week of racing hasn't seen many surprises, but it has been the most experienced and settled lineups that have been the dominant force so far. Is that a trend that will continue? We'll have to wait to find out!