After a five week break in the FIA Formula 2 calendar, the action finally resumed at the famous Hungaroring in Hungary. I worked incredibly hard in the five week gap to raise the sponsorship and to further raise my profile. I was delighted to sign a deal with Swiss Custom Watches for the remainder of the season and to get on the grid at the Hungaroring!
I flew out to Budapest, Hungary with my Father on the Tuesday and got settled in to our hotel just outside of Budapest. We were testing on the Thursday, so we had a day to kill on Wednesday. It was a chance to relax and potentially check out the city a little bit.
The hotel was OK, not great, but OK. Whilst booking the hotel, I decided to go a little bit more upmarket. I didn’t particularly fancy staying in someone’s house in the middle of Budapest, no matter how cheap it was. And it’s very easy to book for someone’s house without knowing it…internet booking can be a little deceiving sometimes!
We were greeted at the hotel check in desk by a rather unwelcoming receptionist. I shrugged that off, and put it down to the fact that we arrived quite late. (It was 8pm, but who cares) The next day, the receptionist was still as grumpy as the day before, if not slightly worse actually. Nonetheless, I went on out for a run and a swim in the morning.
In the afternoon, I took the opportunity to do a bit of shopping. Being in Hungary of course, I had to commandeer to shopping in traditional Hungarian shops…I went to Tesco and H&M. No joke.
Anyway, I survived Wednesday and got into action on Thursday at the track. It was the first time for me at the Hungaroring so I learned as quickly as possible and changed the car as much as I could. Finally I found a balance on the car during the 4 x 1 hour sessions and set a lap time that I was happy with at the end of the day.
I loved the track, it was very twisty and there wasn’t much of a rest bite. Unlike Monza or Paul Ricard for example where we have some time to think on the straight lines, the Hungaroring was very intense. I was very confident going into Friday’s two Free Practice sessions.
The first of two sessions on Friday didn’t quite go to plan. I drove out of the pits on brand new tyres and as I got to turn 3, another driver did something a bit crazy and drove into the side of my car. Consequently, he clipped my wheel and broke my suspension, forcing me to drive back to the pits and ending my session prematurely.
The second session on Friday went well – I was second quickest in the end and feeling good for qualifying. I was however down on practice and due to the unforeseen idiocy of the driver in session 1; I wasn’t able to practice my race distance pace. Ah well, on to the race we go!
Qualifying on Saturday didn’t go to plan either actually. This time it was my mistake. Pushing very hard on lap 2, maybe a little bit too hard, I spun out of contention at turn 8. It was completely my fault and luckily there was hardly any damage to my 500 BHP F2 racing car. I was however on a very good lap and the car felt very good, so I could take some small consolation out of the session, despite only qualifying down in 12th place with that one lap.
The race was fun though! I got caught up in a drama ahead of me at turn one when that very same driver who hit me in Friday, crashed into a few drivers ahead of me. Luckily it wasn’t me, so I managed to avoid them. However, in order to avoid I had to ran wide and consequently fell back down to about 14th place. Nonetheless, I had a strong race and climbed my way to 6th place at the finish. 6th place was about the maximum I could achieve in the circumstances, and I was happy to take some points and damage limitation for a dreadful qualifying.
I went back to the hotel at night slightly annoyed and frustrated. My pace was strong enough to be in the top 3, that much I knew. I just had to sort out my qualifying and I wouldn’t have to make up so much ground.
I was met by that grumpy guy at the hotel again, I was going to say something to him, hand over some of my frustration on to him. It’s a bit rude when you turn up to your hotel and all you see is the guy look up and then look back down to his Facebook page on the computer. Not even a ‘good evening sir, how are you?’ or ‘would you like anything else in the room?’ …I wanted to say something to him, but I was too tired.
For Sunday, I was determined to add to my podium success at Brands Hatch the previous month. I jumped in the car for qualifying and posted the 5th quickest lap time. This then turned out to be 4th place at the start as another driver received a penalty. So, 4th was where I was going to start. It wasn’t a great lap from me, slightly conservative; indeed, if I had hooked it all up, then I would have been starting from the front row.
I made a great start and braved a move around the outside at turn 3. From there I was in 3rd and following the leading duo. As us three scampered off into the distance, the guys behind fell back considerably and so I knew 3rd place was pretty much safe. I tried to put the second placed man under some pressure mid way through the race, but I was unfortunately suffering with an intermittent gearbox problem. This meant that every time I tried to push hard, I couldn’t go down the gearbox quick enough and I was a bit worried about breaking it. I was therefore pleased to cross the line in 3rd spot, a welcome return to the podium!
It turned out to be a very positive weekend for me and I can only thank my sponsors Bottelino’s, Swiss Custom Watches, Core and Ore and Vibe Energy Gum for the success.
The next round takes place at Monza at the end of September. I will be working away to make it for the final, and I will then be working extremely hard to break down the doors for my first two wins in the FIA Formula 2 Championship!
The goal – end the season on a high with two wins…