My second weekend in GP3 has been a lot better. I managed to get through one lap of qualifying without completely destroying the car. So a good start!
We got to the track on Wednesday evening after a long and traffic filled drive from Italy to Germany. We were staying in a pretty nice hotel. Problem is, it was 32 degrees and no air con. Not ideal when you’re going to be a hundred and plenty the next day around the track!
Thursday is always a very “nothing” day in GP3. Everyone is there, cars are there, everyone is raring to go, but no. Thursdays we just walk the track with our engineers (and never talk too much about the track, it’s only to see if the track has changed, which it rarely does. It basically a catch up with your engineer!) I had to change some things with my seat and pedals so I was more comfy and that was about it, Thursday over!
Friday can be similar to Thursday. We arrive at the track in the morning, about 930, and don’t drive until 1750! It’s actually exactly like Thursdays but you have that glimmer of hope in the morning that we are driving soon! I’ve been reading Andre Agassi’s book at the moment so I’ve was trying to be more organised as an athlete. I filled up loads of drinks bottles, put some electrolytes inside them did loads of stuff I can’t even describe.
As the day goes on, I planned some of the practice with my engineer, Mario, and went over some stuff, then spent a lot of the day just trying to stay cool in air con (it was 30+ degrees all weekend). At about 3.30, time starts to go really quickly. I went for a warm up that involves kicking a football and some sprinting, and just like Agassi, I had a shower before I drove for the first time.
I felt brand new, like the day had started again. Feeling brand new, I got in the car and got ready to go! I finished practice in P13. I was a bit annoyed with that, but turns out I was shifting up too early in every gear as I’m still relatively fresh to gp3, and I was still quick in all the corners. So I ended the day on a high! I would’ve been in the mix. Saturday we are slightly busier, but only slightly. We had a qualifying in the morning at about 9.30 and then a race at 5 o clock. It’s weird because of the last two days you’ve been aiming to feel fresh late in the afternoon but now you have to be fresh in the morning and the afternoon. This is where my shower technique was going to come in handy…
Qualifying was mega. I managed to qualify in p6 only three tenths off pole. For my first proper gp3 qualifying this was mega. The team were super happy! Was such a good feeling. I’ve been having a tough year and a half, so to prove that without any experience I can be in the front was good! Turns out one of the drivers infront of me had a penalty so I was starting my first gp3 race p5! I then had to worry about starting the race for the first time with the clutch on my hand, managing the tyre and still being quick.
To be honest I wasn’t expecting too much. Again I had a shower and felt brand new! Like I could stop the earths rotation! However, in the race, I couldn’t stop the earths rotation haha. Basically the race was tough. We had masssssssssive tyre degradation. I dropped back to p14 and was really concerned but since it was my first time, I thought maybe I could have just not done what was expected. However, my team mates struggled more than me so I think I did a decent job!
Mario, my engineer, seems really clever and we both had a long discussion about the race and how we could improve on Sunday’s race. He’s very calm and collected. I think even if I was on fire he’d be calm! We were both on the same page and he had a solution for Sundays race. Sunday came. The race was at 9.00, which honestly feels like the beginning of time. It’s really hot in the rooms so I wasn’t sleeping great anyway. My solution the last two nights was to wet a towel and sleep with that on me like a blanket. Probably not very healthy but effective haha.
Anyway, back to the race. I lined up in p14 and when we went to start the formation lap, my car couldn’t select gear. I tried a few things but I was pushed to the pitlane and had to start from there. I had no first gear, and had to start from basically last. However, my pace was extremely good. I set the second best lap time and my tyres hung on until the end. I was quicker than the leaders for a lot of the race. With a few laps to go my gearbox just had enough. I was stuck in 5th gear and had to retire. This my sounds like a rubbish weekend, but I’m really happy. I think my personal performance was really good. The car was quick in qualifying, and race 2. Maybe we struggled a bit in race 1 but we learnt a lot. Budapest is next weekend, and I’m already on the simulator preparing. Everyone in Gp3 better watch out. If this is what we can do on our first weekend, we are going to be strong!