This year has certainly been much different to any other year of racing for me so far! Not only in terms of the large and incredibly competitive field of drivers, but also as a result of the revised and condensed schedule.
I had experienced a busy 5 rounds in 5 weeks schedule before through the 2019 Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand, so I was able to draw on many lessons from that experience. However having 9 rounds in 11 weeks held in 6 different countries has certainly been my most intense schedule yet. Regardless, it has been such a valuable experience for everyone.
I have learned so much more than I could have dreamed I would this year. Competing in such a large field where every driver is fiercely competitive has meant that everyone in the team has had to push beyond the limits and find every little advantage possible.
One of the biggest areas I know I have developed is using the Pirelli tyre. These are designed to degrade quickly with the intention of adding an extra "unkown" to deal with during the race. This adds an extra challenge because it means there are fewer laps in practice and qualifying as the tyres need to be prepared in the correct way. Having brought them into the operating window, you can generally push for just one lap before the tyres need to be cooled down again. This requires a completely different mindset to a different tyre which allows multiple push laps and a mental appraoch more suited to settling into a rythym.
The challenge in this Championship is all the greater given that there a 3 different compounds to learn, and on top of that you have one set of used tyres to practice with from the previous round, which is a different compound to that you use in qualifying!
Also during the races, they add an extra strategic element as keeping them cool and not wearing them out is crucial to a good finish. Understanding this, and developing a track-specific strategy for the tyres was they key to my second race at Barcelona where I climbed 11 places.
It was a shame to have two strong race weekends and four points finishes taken away from me through the mistakes of others. At Hungary I was P3 before being hit from behind at turn 1, and at Monza I was in P5 and in contention to win the race when similarly hit when another driver locked up behind me. As a result of the Championship format, in both cases each incident also meant I had to start the second race from the rear of the grid.
Its always tough to take breaks like this, but once it has happenned you just have to focus on what you can control, and in all situations I reset and focused on trying to get the fastest lap and extracting the maximum out of the car.
I had many highlights during the year. I know I demonstrated I was one of the quickest in the field in the wet, qualifying top 5 twice, making up 14 positions in Hungary and 11 positions at Barcelona to name a few of my favourite moments.
I want to say a huge thank you to Andreas, Esther and all the team Jenzer Motorsport for the incredible work during the year, not only at the circuit but behind the scenes as well. It has been great to work with a team with so much dedication and experience, and especially thanks to my mechanics German and Ben for giving me not only a fast car, but one of the most reliable on the grid. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with my engineer Mihai, and I have learned a huge amount from him that will all carry over and give me a great head start for next season.
I what to thank Dale Alcock and all of my amazing investors back home in Australia who are such an enormous part of my progression and the incredible opportunities I have.
As always, I also want to thank all of my sponsors Lazersafe, High Energy Service, Edith Cowan University, Online Logisitics Solutions, Novata Solutions, The Wealth Designers, ABC Containers, Fullworks Firesafety, Walker Wayland, Signarama Joondalup, Rvend, Grand Toyota, Inspired Insurance Services and Inside 50.
I can never appreciate all of their support enough.
I also want to say a huge thankyou to the CWR Pty Ltd Board and my family for putting in an incredible amount of time and effort to ensure I am able to be where I am and to make all the right moves to give me the best opportunities for progression.
I want to thank Paul Peos and Inside 50 for their support and work to make new connections for us back home and my friend and trainer Adam Wills for putting so much into my physical preparation, particularly over the off season and looking forward to more of this over the European winter.
Finally, I want to thank my long term mentor Mick Kouros who believes in me so much, and puts in so much time behind the scenes through the year.
Hard to believe that it is exactly one week until we hit the track again for the first day of the 2021 program, with official FIA Formula 3 pre-season testing in Barcelona!
Thank you also to everyone who follows and supports me, I really appreciate it,