Day 1 of the Winter Series in Barcelona certainly was one full of surprises and challenges! So exciting to be here amongst all these drivers at this level from around the world. Each of these two days consists of 4 hour long sessions on the track.
For the first session the conditions were fine and cool. As the whole track has been recently resurfaced, we elected to go for two runs on good used tyres to gain some feedback about the track, and get a feel for what changes may need to be made to the set up of the car to accomodate. In addition, I was also running in some new brake pads early on.
It was amazing to get out there again, and on these tyres I was very pleased to put in good lap times which put me at 5th quickest in the timesheets with some of the drivers ahead likely to have been on new tyres. Unfortunately there was something not working quite right with the gearbox which is not prepared by the team itself, but by another organisation. The guys in the team checked it out and recalibrated it which we hoped would resolve the issue.
The second session was affected by rain, firstly with a light drizzle, but then steadily raining more until the track was reasonably wet. As a result this was a difficult session to glean much from, but I was able to gain some more time in the car, putting in some good laps and ending up in a similar position on the timesheets where the track did begin to come back toward the end.
Over the lunch break the track did start to gradually dry, so the plan in the 3rd session (given that it really came on toward the end of the last) was for all of the Fortec drivers to wait in the garage until the second half of the session, put in one run on used tyres, and then come in for my first push on a new set. All went to plan at first, with my first run going well, so I came in for the new set. Unfortunately, when halfway through my warm up lap with these tyres, someone else went off on the circuit which resulted in the remainder of the session being red flagged!
The fourth and last session saw the track being nice and dry which provided a great chance for the quickest laps of the day. In my first run I brought my tyres on for 2 laps and then pushed, putting in a good first sector. Then coming into turn 4 with hard braking at the end of the straight my gearbox issue returned resulting in a high speed spin. This once again meant that the session was red flagged.
Once again the team worked amazingly fast and hard once I was returned to the pits to fix the gearbox problem. Thanks to these efforts I managed to return to the track and push hard to put in my quickest laps for the day on the same set of tyres.
Looking forward to hopefully a nice dry track and plenty of tyres for Day 2!