With the launch of my new website, we will be following a slightly different format with posts on my website sharing news, and then me writing my own personal blogs most likely following each event. Those who subscribe to my blog through my website will get these sent straight to their inbox, so please plug in your details and they will be sent each time I write one.
It is fair to say that this Grand Prix event is not as anyone would have expected only a few months ago! It is certainly different, but I must say that it has been very impressive how it all has been organised to ensure that everyone is safe. We have been tested every 5 days for COVID-19, and even that we are starting to get used to! It’s amazing how the different testers have slightly different techniques, some fast, some slow and careful. I think the general consensus is that we prefer slow and careful the best!
Upon entering the circuit everyone needs to wear masks, we are all temperature checked, and then once inside we are separated into different compounds and need to basically stay with our team all day. Our drivers’ briefing was even over Zoom.
Having said all of that, for a driver it is not that different, as under normal circumstances you are very busy for the entire day, and when not driving or warming up, most of the time is spent with your engineer, so for most of us I don’t think it is that different really.
The circuit at the Red Bull Ring is one of my favorites. Fast and flowing, and with huge elevation changes, in fact I think the elevation change is second only to Spa.
The track walk was great, in that this was my first exposure to the fact that we are racing during Grand Prix events now. Sebastian Vettel was walking with a number of the Ferrari engineers pretty much with us for a few corners. In fact he shared some of his thoughts with us on taking turn 3 which was fascinating. Lance Stroll and Esteban Ocon were also around us at different times, though all keeping a safe distance of course!
Considering we have been a relatively long time out of the car, my one practice session went really well. It was wet for most of it, and I felt quite good in the car under these conditions. I found out after the session that I was inside the top 5 of the time sheets for much of the wet part of practice, and in fact was P2 at the time all came in to switch to the slick tyres for the final minutes as the surface had dried. I had a couple of push laps on the slick tyre, and to finish the session P16 of the 30 cars was a solid first outing result.
Qualifying with 30 cars on a relatively short circuit like the Red Bull Ring was interesting! The majority of the session went well for me and I put in some good laps. However, on my second set of new tyres at the end of the session, my final two push laps were both impeded by other drivers who were not on push laps. Unfortunately, this can happen at a circuit which is not too hard on tyres as some drivers go for 2 push laps, and some 3 meaning that it is very easy to have many cars “out of sequence”.
As a result, I qualified P23 knowing that I had the pace to have pushed higher. However, this is all experience and I will focus on how I can ensure I have the space I need in the next round.
I was really happy with my first race, to start well and then to race very solidly to move up to P21 by the finish. Overtaking was more difficult for everyone as the DRS zone between turns 1 and 3 was not operating for some reason. I was happy with our race pace which was less than 5 tenths off the quickest race lap, and as I said it was a solid first race without error.
Race 2 had plenty more happening, probably as the DRS zone I mentioned previously was now working! Again, I was happy with my start, and I battled through some pretty close packs in the early laps. On lap 5 though I was forced wide into turn 4 as I went for a m ove around the outside. This caused me to leave the track through the gravel trap, but I was able to rejoin albeit now down in P27.
I was really pleased to push from here though, and by the end of the race I had forced my way back up to P17 which once again for my debut event was a good solid result.
After my race, it was great to be able to find a small vantage point from our “compound” to watch the Formula 1 Grand Prix. It was an eventful race, and fantastic to see up close.
On Monday we had a pretty quiet day in the apartment after reporting to the track first thing with the team. The last two days I have done the same, trained at the track and then taken advantage of some important down time in the afternoons.
Now, I am about to head back to the track again for a “jump out” test with the FIA officials, and then tomorrow it is back at the track again to officially start the race meeting for Round 2!
Thanks everyone for the support and I’ll write again soon,