At the beginning of the season, we signed up for the McLaren Grand Prix League fantasy F1 competition and promised regular updates on our progress.
This was done in the expectation of, er, not making very much. These competitions are notoriously tricky to prosper in, because the criteria used to rank players are so finely-balanced that it’s very hard to make any impact.
And, at first, things went exactly as we expected. Seeing that we weren’t doing too well at all, largely on the back of our making all sorts of optimistic selections of teams and drivers like Super Aguri and Anthony Davidson.
We readjusted our team mission statement from “win the exciting trip to Woking” to “finish in the top half of the competition”.
But after the transfer windows opened, and we were able to trade away our sillier choices, we experienced something of a turnaround – culminating in our best-ever race score in Belgium and seeing us launched like a rocket into the heady heights of the top 4,000 players.
In Belgium, the results of which were not published until the team had gone through the motions of losing its appeal, we scored a new highest-ever points total of 408. This was largely thanks to our drivers Heidfeld and Hamilton getting themselves on the podium, plus respectable performances by Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel.
That left us with 4,933 points, or 4,497th out of 19,657 players, a gain of 942 places on our previous, post-Monza position. Well, colour us astounded. To put this in context, the top-scoring player in that race managed 461 points and the top score after Spa was on 5,712 points.
And so to Singapore, where we were expecting a pasting at the hands of all those players who had bought heavily into Ferrari. Only, because of the disgraceful decision to deploy the safety car at a time inconvenient to that team, and the subsequent humiliation of F1 because they didn’t score any points, it didn’t come.
Granted, our gains were considerably more modest than they had been at either Monza or Spa. But gains they still were.
Trulli’s retirement could have cost us dear – but decent performances from Hamilton, Heidfeld and Vettel saw us through, leaving us with a total of 365 points in a race where the top scorer picked up 416.
We go into Japan 3,814th out of 19,657 with 5,298 points (the leader currently has 6,078) – and secretly convinced that the only way is down.