Champagne Rain
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Round 07

Warnings: none

Length: 3.5k words





OPINION: Lee Sunmi should not be dismissed as a serious championship contender

We are truly living in amazing times.

Last week, the story of Azerbaijan was Ferrari. A double DNF was a large blow to the Maranello operation. With Ferrari out of contention, their rivals made the most of the opportunity. Red Bull secured a 1-2. Porsche fought their way to another podium.

Sebastian Vettel currently leads the championship, and it’s difficult not to place all your attention on the four-time world champion. His impressive results this season have been a marvel. It seems like week after week, he pulls off an overtake that makes any commentator giddy.

But there’s someone else we need to talk about. Vettel’s teammate, Lee Sunmi, is having a historic rookie season that mirrors that of Lewis Hamilton. Maybe you can see where this is going.

Yes, Sebastian Vettel is leading the championship with 95 points, and Lee Sunmi “only” has 72, but this season has proved to be an otherworldly experience for the fans who are following it. Before the first official practice session began, no one imagined that Lee would launch herself onto the podium in the first grand prix, yet it happened. Next week, it was the same story—another podium.

Stories were quickly written. Feathers were ruffled. Heads turned.

However, as Lee’s popularity soared, it also quickly faltered as she proved herself capable of making mistakes on track. Perhaps, some commented, she was just lucky.

Or perhaps, Lee Sunmi is just that good.

After a mishap in the wet in Malaysia, after a tough race in Spain, Lee flexed her wings and soared to an impressive podium in Monaco. Then, after being knocked out of Q2, she clawed her way back to the points in Azerbaijan. These moments, when they add up, just aren’t a product of sheer luck; it’s skill.

Many might have already written off Lee as a championship contender. For what reason, it hardly matters. She is coming for blood as many talented young drivers have in the past. For that reason, she shouldn’t be dismissed as a force—not when that’s who she is.

In Spain, Lee famously told reporters that she wasn’t taking criticism; she was only taking her competitors’ weaknesses.

“I’m not taking criticisms that doubt my ability as a driver,” Lee said as she was sat in between Byun, Hamilton, and Vettel. “But I’m taking everyone else’s weaknesses, and I’m going to capitalize off those this weekend.”

The rookie may be a rookie, but she is not just that; she is a championship contender that everyone needs to worry about.

This article was written by Marc Fischer, F1 journalist.


- - - - -


“I don’t like this,” Sunmi murmurs as she peers at the dark clouds looming above the paddock.


“What? Flashbacks of Malaysia?” Max teases to which Sunmi replies with a chagrined eyeroll.


“We don’t talk about Malaysia.” Sunmi shakes her head, now recalling the awful experience that she had in Sepang. “That was the most humiliating thing that has ever happened to me,” she murmurs. “And I almost lost it in the pitlane.”


“Well, I heard it won’t rain that hard today.”


“Yeah, for today. Today’s just qualifying. Tomorrow’s the grand prix. And they said it’ll rain harder tomorrow than today.”


“Oh, come on. You don’t think you can do well today or tomorrow?”


“I might have some faith, but you know I don’t really believe in miracles.”


They begin to approach the entrance to Red Bull’s hospitality center, where a print-out poster of Max is. His number for the season—a golden number one signaling his status as the defending world champion—is big and bold and front and center. It’s another reminder that Sunmi is only herself. For now.


“I’ll see you on track for FP3,” Max says with a small wave.


Sunmi bids farewell to the Red Bull driver and starts making her way towards Porsche’s motorhome, where a pre-practice briefing will take place. Since Porsche is the new team on the F1 chopping block, their base is located at the very end with Haas. The trek is always eventful because there are about a dozen news stations doing commentary pieces ahead of the third practice session—and ultimately, the qualifying session. Sunmi’s about to check out into another daydream when Sebastian seems to appear out of nowhere to join her.


“Sunmi,” Sebastian greets her. It isn’t raining yet, but he’s already carrying a folded umbrella. “How are you?”


“Alright,” Sunmi replies with a shrug. “It’s going to rain a lot apparently, so I’m not ready for that.”


“Still hung up over Malaysia?”


“What can I say?” Sunmi asks in a cynical tone. “That really hurt, Seb. You were there at the briefing. You slid off the track too.”


“But I’m not going to be upset about it for so long. It happens.”


“Yeah, but it still .”


“Learn from it.” Sebastian zips up his jacket. A raindrop pecks Sunmi’s forehead. “And be patient. I know it’s hard to come in for a pit stop when you’ll lose position, but you can always fight back.”


“I don’t know if it’s that simple, Seb.”


“Trust me,” the German driver says with a sly grin. “I know a thing or two about driving in the wet. I won my first grand prix in wet conditions, you know.”


“Okay, don’t flex on me,” Sunmi says with a laugh. But she nods. Words of advice from a champion aren’t to be taken lightly. “I’ll listen to my engineers next time then.”


- - - - -



REPORT: Verstappen on pole for Canadian Grand Prix

A rain-affected qualifying saw Max Verstappen, the reigning world champion, take his 15th career pole position.

Fernando Alonso took his first front row start since Germany 2012. The Spaniard was followed closely by Byun Baekhyun, who was only 0.04 seconds off from P2.

The forecast for tomorrow’s grand prix indicates medium to heavy rain.


- - - - -


“Holy ,” Sunmi practically yells into the team radio. She doesn’t mean to curse, but it spills out anyway. “Is there thunder?”


“No, Sunmi,” Trish’s calm voice responds. “It’s just a bit of lightning.”


“Will the rain get worse?” Sunmi asks as she steps on the throttle.


Sunmi charges down the casino straight in the RS-2022, towards the infamous Wall of Champions. Damon Hill crashed there. And so did Michael Schumacher. Jacques Villeneuve. Jenson Button did too before he became a champion. Even Sebastian Vettel himself crashed there. These thoughts of disaster blip through Sunmi’s mind for a second, but they don’t distract. They motivate. Muscle memory creeps into action, and she hits the apex perfectly and nothing more. Not even a light touch on that cursed wall.


“The rain is expected to fall heavier around Turn 10 in a few minutes,” Trish replies. Her voice is blanketed by the sound of other cars rushing past in the background. “But rain is overall expected to hit the circuit in 12 minutes.”


12 minutes. Sunmi is no mathematician, but when you’re a driver, knowing and calculating times is almost as natural as breathing. If it takes 1 minute and 17 seconds to drive a lap on slick tyres, then 12 minutes should be 9 or 10 laps.


“What lap are we on?” Sunmi asks.


“37 out of 70.”


“Should we box?”


Trish is silent on the radio. She’s probably asking the other engineers for more information. All the while, Sunmi continues to drive about the circuit.


It’s raining, but it’s not raining terribly. In a few parts of the track, there’s nothing but a misty haze. Sunmi’s going so fast that all the water droplets fly back before they have a chance to collect on her helmet’s visor. On the parts of the track where the rain is harder, however, she has to take great care. The slick tyres offer maximum grip on the dry areas—but not on those wet patches. No, in those wet spots, the tyres behave abnormally, sliding and slipping wherever there’s moisture. And unfortunately, the rain is only growing fiercer, and it’s spreading to multiple places on the circuit.


“Rain is really starting to pick up,” Sunmi says. As she goes past the Wall of Champions one more time, it seems easier and easier to crash into it. “Awful grip in the braking zones.”


“Copy, just keep managing the tyre temps. We are boxing the next lap.”


Sunmi doesn’t reply but cur

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After a long hiatus, Chapter 9 is here!


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Chapter 10: this reminds me of carlos dnf'ing at austria.....

also please continue writing! i would understand if you wanted to focus on other things too. best of luck to you in whatever you're pursuing.
Chapter 8: SUNMI P1!!!!!

The private jet olympics was funny... I sense some jealousy from Baekhyun even if doesn't want to show or acknowledge it. This was my favorite chapter so far! I love the racing scene!
Chapter 7: the awkwardness 😳
Chapter 7: their next meeting WAS awkward 😭
ChillTonight #5
Chapter 9: OMGG SUNMI???
ChillTonight #6
Chapter 8: sunmi won!!!!
Chapter 10: i hope you continue this story but i will also support no matter what happens!!! thank you for sharing this story with us!!
Chapter 10: i can feel the angst and tension building up....
Chapter 9: this was so good, i havenot read fics in so long but i am SO glad that i logged in for this update 😭😭😭