Thursday testing at Donington Park went well, with the first session being my first time in the dry around the track. I ended up fifth-quickest, just 0.15s off the fastest time – and I was pleased with that, because we were on old tyres.
For the second session, the team and I went through a few things on my car, and halfway through we went out on new tyres and I managed to get a fast lap in just before the session was red-flagged. That put me second overall, just 0.09s off the fastest.
I went into qualifying confident that we would do well given our speed in testing and the improvements we had made. Unfortunately, I misjudged how long it would take to get my tyres up to temperature, which I think cost me the best lap that I and the car were capable of. That left me in sixth position, which I was very disappointed with.
For second qualifying, we made some changes to the car to try to find some time which I think helped, but the best of our tyres had gone from the session before and I flat-spotted both my fronts on my first flying lap, slowing me down dramatically and leaving me only 11th.
In race two, I knew I had to make another good start and catch people napping. I did that, passing one driver at the start and then another into the Old Hairpin on the opening lap. Four laps later, I then got a good run into Turn One and got round the outside of the driver ahead under braking. As the race went on I caught a few others, too, and ended up finishing sixth, which I was happy with given that I had started just 11th.
The first few races are all about making sure I learn as much as I can without making too many mistakes, and then over the second half of the season, I can put all that into practice. Hopefully that will be the trend for the season, and then towards the end we can start getting some podiums.
Thruxton is next, which is a circuit that I really enjoyed when we tested there over the winter; I came in after my first session with a huge smile on my face and just said, 'it's brilliant!' It's pretty much flat-out in seventh gear the whole way round the lap in the dry with an average speed of about 135mph, which is simply insane!
The goal for the weekend has to be to keep learning and come away with a couple of decent finishes; it's one of the harder circuits on the calendar without a doubt – but one that I'm definitely looking forward to!