I'm currently just seven races into my third season. My rookie season was spent fighting mostly in the midfield with a Renault, and managing to take 4 wins and 2 seconds. We developed the car over the first half of the season, and then froze development at Singapore, with an eye to making big strides toward the top of the tables in my second season.
my second season was very successful. I finished all bar two races on the podium, and won most of those. I won all bar two of the races in the second half of the season, and had the championship wrapped up at Suzuka. Thanks to Magnussen being mostly hopeless in the races, we got beaten by Red Bull to the constructor's title though
. We kept the development going right through the year, and by season's end we were second only to Red Bull, though the gap was quite significant, as Red Bull have by far been the best in the development race, and have ended up way ahead of everyone else.
At the end of my second season, I was offered contracts with Toro Rosso, Force India, and Mclaren. I figured that in order to catch the eye of the top teams, I would need to move up to a "tier 2" team. I chose Mclaren for a new challenge, as they had slumped to the very bottom of the development table, so strangely enough, in order to move up to a big team, I had to leave my championship capable team for a backmarker.
I got to Mclaren to find they had a level 3 upgraded engine, and everything else down on level 1. So in the first few races, I did the full practice programs to gather as many points as possible to do a couple of downforce upgrades (in the first two seasons, I didn't do practice programs, to limit the development to a slightly more realistic pace). So far, I have had some very lucky circumstances in a few races, and have managed to win 5 of the first 7 races!
In Australia, a race I hadn't won in either of my years at Renault, I qualified in a fairly low position (can't remember exactly, but barely got through q1). But for the race, I had opted for a heavy tyre saving trategy, thanks to seeing in the practice program that the Mclaren, how I had set it up, was very gentle on the tyres. There was a fair bit of carnage in the race, with two safety car periods, during which various drivers pitted, some going for very aggressive strategies, and in the end I found myself in fourth place with just 7 laps to go.
I had both Mercs ahead of me, who were fighting each other pretty hard, slowing both of them down, though not enough for me to catch up, and well ahead of them was Verstappen. Ricciardo had been involved in an incident after the first round of stops, which had led to the first safety car period, so that was one less car that could finish ahead of me. In Hamilton and Rosberg's epic battle for second, they had both chosen to make a late stop for fresh tyres, which got them both out of my way. I was very happy about this, as the only car close behind me was Bottas, who I could keep behind relatively easily, and behind us was a decent sized gap, in which the Mercs slotted into.
Then with just I think 4 laps from the end, Verstappen started going very slowly, and I was taking multiple seconds per sector out of his lead. As I rounded the last corner onto the straight, I saw him in the pits, so he must have picked up a puncture. What luck! I had found myself in the lead of the race, in a somewhat Steven Bradbury fashion (the Aussie speed skater who won gold only because everyone else crashed on the last corner from ahead of him lol), and despite my very old tyres requiring a lot of care with the throttle in the last few laps, I was almost guaranteed the win. In those last three laps, Verstappen caught up to me and Bottas so quickly it was scary. He even managed to pass Bottas on the final lap to take second, but thankfully in their relatively short battle, they'd dropped about a second behind me, and given me just enough margin to hold onto the lead until the end.
My win at Sochi was equally as lucky, in an equally crazy race, but I won on merit at Shanghai, Monaco, and Canada, but finished 8th and 9th respectively at Bahrain and Spain. Thanks to a fair bit of luck in Australia and Russia, I currently have a 30 point lead in the championship from Ricciardo.
I intend to keep developing the car all the way to the end of the season (though I've reverted back to not doing practice programs now), and I'm hoping for a contract offer from Ferrari at the end of the season, so I can get them back to the front of the field. When I moved to Mclaren, I was expecting a very difficult season, but so far I'm shocked at how competitive I've been. I might end up having to move up to the hardest difficulty, because I'm currently on Legend with no assists, and I'm consistently over a second per lap faster than Alonso in qualifying.