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!