ValenciaSo, after a brief break, I got back into the F1 groove with round 11 in Valencia.

At the time of writing this, I’ve completed Practice 1 and Practice 2, and I haven’t especially enjoyed the experience. The track has proven to be quite challenging, and to begin with I was more than a second off Button’s fastest time, though toward the end of FP2, I was able to improve.

My initial thought was that the car setup was too conservative. I made changes to try and eke out greater speed, and even tried using setups for other circuits, in a bid to find something – anything – that would see me close the gap on the fastest runners.

Nothing worked, until I realised the car setup was only part of the issue – I needed to change my approach to the track.

At Turn 8, I was tough on the brakes. I was too timid, and losing time as a result. This was also an issue for me at Turn 10 and Turn 12, and to a point, Turn 17. By being a bit braver (and accelerating sooner as well), I was eventually able to get to under half a second of Button’s best lap. It’s fair to say I have a lot of work to do in FP3 – but with a bit of luck I can continue to squeeze the gap on Button by the time I start qualifying.

By a strange quirk, I had to repeat FP2, which was in wet conditions. My pace wasn’t great, but the practice would prove crucial. Qualifying sessions 1 and 2 (which I just scraped through) were dry, but Q3 was wet, and, despite my trepidation about racing in the wet, I found myself managing pole!

The race though, was not great. I looked set for sixth (after running second for a while but with the Red Bulls right on my tail the entire time), but a lapse in concentration saw me suffer some front wing damage on my final stint, seeing me lose pace and ultimately wind 9th, outside the points. My only consolation – Button could only manage 5th, thus extending his championship lead to 5 points with 6 races left!

To mark the New Year, I got to go to work today (and I was there Boxing Day too). I don’t mind working either day, but I have to question the wisdom of having the store open on either day.

Last year, the store was closed on both Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, owing to poor sales the year before. This year, head office, in their wisdom, decreed we should be open on both days, despite the evidence of 2012’s figures.

Unsurprisingly, neither Boxing Day or today were great ones for sales.

It’s pretty obvious to me, a lowly team leader, why being open is futile for us. The company has a sale but, compared to bigger retailers, we don’t shout about it. No one knows what we offer, and where I live, public transport barely runs on bank holidays. Combine this with other retailers running shorter hours (or just not opening), and the footfall drops off dramatically.

Instead, the powers that be decided we had to be open 10-6 both days.

There really is no point in us being open to 6 (or at all). We took just barely £1,000 on both days, so, factoring in the cost of staff wages, heating and electricity, we would have actually run at a loss both days.

And the company wonders why we’re not making a profit. Well, perhaps next time, we won’t pour money down the drain?