The CDM Boremula 1 World Championship by F1Countdown.com gets under way TONIGHT from Winton Motor Raceway in Australia. The circuit replaces Phillip Island as host to the opening round of the season, and is sure to give drivers a big wake-up call as this narrow, twisty circuit really doesn't compliment the Pro Mazda open wheelers that we use.
Ahead of tonight's first round though, why not use this chance to get acquainted with the championship, how it all works, and the runners and riders you can expect to see throughout the season.
A typical race meeting takes place on a Wednesday night with Practice starting at 19:00 BST. Live coverage begins around 15 minutes before Qualifying, at 19:45. Said Qualifying session will take on a "one-shot" format, where drivers will take to the circuit in reverse championship order (reverse pre-season testing order for Round 1) and only get one chance to set a fast lap. The whole session is broadcasted so everybody gets some air time, but also additional pressure from viewers.
Grabbing Pole Position will score you 1 championship point, and is the only way to score, away from race results.
There is only one race per evening, with the length extended to a minimum of 125 kilometers, as opposed to the 75km of last season. Drivers will still be required to pit thanks to a limit on how much fuel they're allowed to carry, so patience and fuel-saving in the slipstream of others is definitely required, however we don't always see drivers exercise caution in these situations.
The winner will bag themselves 15 championship points, reduced from 25 in Season 1, with 2nd place getting 12 points, 3rd place getting 10 points, and then one point less per position you continue to go down the list.
Races will be weekly, with a break at the start of June for iRacing's Week 13 deployment, which often disrupts leagues and races going on a day or so afterwards.
The championship calendar, loosely mimicking the 1998 Formula One World Championship's campaign, is as follows;
3rd May - Winton, Australia (42 Laps)
10th May - Interlagos, Brazil (30 Laps)
17th May - Catalunya, Spain (27 Laps)
24th May - Montreal, Canada (29 Laps)
31st May - Magny-Cours, France (29 Laps)
7th Jun - WEEK OFF (Week 13)
14th Jun - Silverstone, United Kingdom (25 Laps)
21th Jun - Red Bull Ring, Austria (29 Laps)
28th Jun - Spa Francorchamps, Belgium (18 Laps)
5th Jul - Monza, Italy (22 Laps)
12th Jul - Suzuka, Japan (22 Laps)
Pre-season testing took place just two weeks ago, with three half-hour Qualifying sessions, where drivers had to put in the fastest times they could, to determine which of the pre-painted cars they'd be driving this season. All liveries were made in-house by Chaz Draycott Media, with thanks to James of JL Racethetics for some of the 1997 templates.
After a couple of days wait for drivers to complete laps in their own time, this is how your driver line-up looks;
*Michael Jones will be stepping in for the injured John Tusting at Prost Peugeot for the first couple of rounds on agreement from the other competitors.
Huge thanks must go out to the series sponsors for making this happen for a second running - F1Countdown.com are the title sponsor for the season with support also coming from Abruzzi Racewear and Sim Racing Magazine! The series will also have the iRacing photography services of Simtography by CDL / Gilles Gardner and Morgan Butler Sim Racing Photography.
The first broadcast can be found below, and the whole season will be broadcast live on Chaz Draycott Media. Don't forget to subscribe, and you won't miss a single round of one of iRacing's most loveable championships.