It’s been a few weeks since our last update but with some time off, I’ve been able to get writing for you. This month, it͛s been good to recharge the batteries after a few hectic weeks. I’ve made the most of the time off; heading to Chicago, USA for a week and some time with family. That included catching a baseball game as well as the usual tourist stuff and trying out a couple of cool restaurants and just generally enjoying the Chicago vibe… Good times, but now it͛s time to get back to the racing.
Since the last blog, there͛s been a lot going on so I͛ll start with my outing in Trident͛’s F2 car. It was one of those last-minute opportunities where you just have to give it a go. The approach came on the Tuesday ahead of the British GP. That meant no time to get in the simulator and we ended up doing a seat fit in the garage on Wednesday, followed by me reading the F2 manual late into the night. It wasn͛t ideal preparation but as I was going to be racing at the British GP, I was going to make the most of it.
I had driven the F2 car before and loved it. You might remember I tested ART͛s car at the end of last year but then we were on another tyre and conditions were very different over in Abu Dhabi. People asked about the differences and there were quite a few; DRS, hand clutch and pit stops for starters. Compared to an F3 car, the big difference is in straight-line speed. In some of the corners, the F3 car is quicker but it͛s on the straights where the time difference really comes from – about eight seconds at Silverstone.
Thursday was the first time on the track with free practice so the pressure was on. Looking back, it was a steep learning curve. I had just six or seven ͚push͛ laps and that wasn͛t enough to learn how to get the most from the tyres and how long you could push for. Problems with the radio meant I just had to get on with it, which was a little tough having had no prior testing or prep, but Trident’s team manager Giacomo Ricci was impressed (who has raced these cars too) and was happy with the pace so that was good to hear. I had no problems physically either so I was in good shape for the weekend.
On to qualifying and this was where I felt I could make my best showing. It looked like I would get into to the top eight but halfway through the session we had part of the rear wing drop down. At that point, I was five tenths up but we lost about 60kg of downforce with the wing killing the tyres and the lap! I was annoyed because I knew that getting in the top ten would have made an impression with those watching. What I did come away with was the confidence of knowing what was possible and that I could do a good job in the category.
Race One didn͛t quite go to plan, did it? This was my first race starting with a hand clutch and when the first start was aborted, Albon stalled ahead of me, and I just wasn͛t able to power around him so we both had to start from the pitlane. Sounds easy, but both cars had to be jacked up to get back from the grid to the pit lane so we lost a lot of time. This meant it was just a test session but we got a finish and got some more miles. I had a chance to follow some of the front runners and learn where they were making up time. All in all, good experience which is what it was all about.
On to Grand Prix day itself and it was really exciting to be heading into the circuit Sunday morning with all the crowds and activities going on trackside. It raises the bar seeing all the flags and I loved it. This race I got away cleanly and enjoyed a proper F2 outing. I made up some places and ended up 14th, beating one of the Prema cars…
It was always a one-off (in this season anyway) and I was back in the F3 paddock a couple of weeks later in Belgium. I love the Spa track but it didn͛t return that affection this time. Despite starting on the front row three times (and one of those was from pole) we only came away with a fourth and a sixth. That͛s hurt the title chase I know but we͛ve not given up just yet. Our qualifying pace was good so if we can do that again at the next race at Zandvoort where overtaking is tougher, we͛ve a chance to close the gap.
Of course, it͛s not all racing at this time of year. Away from the track, I’ve got some filming coming up with sponsor Adrian Flux. It͛s great that the company is backing young drivers so check out the Influx site where the film will get posted. We should always support those who support the sport.
Stay chilled and enjoy the rest of the summer Badgers!