Despite what appears on the outside, Dutch driver Daniel de Jong feels his 2014 GP2 Series season with MP Motorsport has gone quite well, despite it taking until the Belgian Feature race for him to score his first point of the season.
He feels it is his qualifying speed that has ultimately let him down more times than not this season, something the young Dutchman admits he has to work on to avoid further frustration, as de Jong believes his race pace is strong.
“Well you can’t see it in the results, but I think we are going well with MP Motorsport in the GP2 Series,” said de Jong to The Checkered Flag. “We’ve just had bad luck many times. We lost our wheel in Barcelona and we had some bad luck with safety cars. I think the car is good enough for top 10/5, but Qualifying is not my strongest point, but we are working hard on that.
“I think the race speed was quite okay, only the qualifying was the biggest problem. And when you qualify well you’ve already won half of the race. We are working hard on the qualifying and sometimes you think the qualifying is going well etc, but the time doesn’t show it. It’s frustrating, but we will keep working on that. Spa was P13 and we saw many times that there was a lot more potential in it. I just need to put all the puzzle pieces on the right place.”
Looking back at the season so far, the Dutchman believes his efforts in Spa-Francorchamps last time out was his season highlight so far, despite making the wrong tyre choice at the start. He gambled on slick tyres but heavy rain saw him make an unscheduled stop to switch to wet tyres. Despite this, he climbed back up the order and claimed his first point of 2014 for tenth.
“I think last weekend in Spa [was my highlight of the season so far],” insisted de Jong. “We were flying in the rain, but we made a wrong tyre decision at the start. We went for slicks, but after the start it rain really hard, so we dropped from p13 to p25. Changed our tyres to rain and we came back to P10. Can you imagine what would happened if we had the right tyres at the start…”
So far in 2014, de Jong has seen Jon Lancaster, Tio Ellinas and Marco Sorensen partner him within the MP Motorsport team, but he does not see that as an issue. He also spoke about the atmosphere within the team, and admits he feels right at home.
“I don’t find it a problem,” replied the Dutchman about his 2014 team-mates. “All of those team-mates were nice guys, so it gave a good atmosphere in the team. I am more working with my own engineers and you watch sometimes the data of your team-mate. Sometimes I learn off them and they learn off me as well.
“[The atmosphere within MP Motorsport] is so great! At one point everybody is serious and working hard and when there is time then there will be a lot of fun. You will cry of laughing! I really love it here! Just a big family!”
The twenty-two year-old feels he is learning and makes a point that it is important to learn from any mistake to make yourself a better driver. He believes he is learning more about the mental side of motorsport more than changing his driving techniques this season, something he hopes will turn him into a more proficient driver in the long run.
“I’m still learning a lot,” said de Jong. “Some drivers don’t care and the just sit down and make every time the same mistake. If you are open for it to change yourself and learn from others than you will keep developing. I think I start to learn less in driving techniques it’s more fine-tuning, but you will keep learning a lot on the mental side! What I think is the most important thing of everything.
“Every year is important! Every day is important! Every morning I think ‘well it’s a new day with new possibilities and opportunities, so go for it and enjoy it’ because it can be your last day!”
Looking forward, de Jong is hopeful of building on his first point of the season at Spa, and hopes to solve his qualifying issues at the remaining races at Monza, Sochi and Abu Dhabi.
“We scored our first point in Spa, and we had our best quali, so I hope to make more progress during the next upcoming events,” finished de Jong.