t was great to come away from Barcelona with a debut win in the GP3 Series and to be leading the championship, but it’s been a long wait for the second round of the season.
Ever since I started my racing career in karting, when you’re coming up to the end of June you’re usually approaching the halfway point in the season. GP3 supports the Grands Prix in Europe, so we’ve had a six-week break before our next event, supporting the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring this weekend.
It would be quite easy to switch off, which means you have to work really hard to keep yourself motivated and on top of everything. To do that, I’ve been spending a lot of time on the simulator at Red Bull and also with my team at Carlin, working very hard with them. You really have to stay focused on the goal.
Obviously as a Red Bull Junior, racing at the Red Bull Ring is a big deal. I said after Barcelona that because most of the GP3 drivers have never raced in Austria before – the Austrian Grand Prix has only come back on the calendar this year after a 10-year break – it should be good for me because I raced there in European Formula 3 last year. I hope it gives me an advantage and I know I’ve been putting in the work, but I’ve no doubt that the rest of my competitors will have been on simulators learning the track. Even so, certainly the racing experience I’ve had there should put me in good stead, because you can’t simulate that.
I got a lot of racing in there last year – we had a funny situation in qualifying, which was wet, with what we thought were different tyre compounds to the others, and the team I drove for was really slow in those conditions. But we were really fast in the dry and I had some great battles to come through the field.
The attention I got for winning GP3 at Barcelona was a lot more than anything I’ve experienced, especially being in the Formula 1 paddock, and the size of the audience it goes out to really astounded me. You get a lot more influential people talking to you, which can only be good for the future. But I just have to try to do the same thing as normal, take the same approach, which is to be relentless – I really want to win this.
At the Red Bull Ring, it’s quite easy to overtake so I’ll be happy as long as we’re in the top three in qualifying, because whether you’re on pole or third often comes down to a few things you can’t control. I’d really like to get a podium in race one and see where that takes me for the reversed-grid second race.
Of course, we’ve got England playing Uruguay in the World Cup on Thursday evening, which is the day before the track action kicks off in Austria. I’ll be doing everything I can to try and watch it, especially as I’m with an English team this year – the team I was with in Formula 3 last year is Italian so they’d have been unbearable after last Saturday’s match!
I watched the Italy game at the birthday party of a good friend who was back in England after moving to the States this year to race in Indy Lights. I really thought we played well and we were unlucky to lose it. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen
England play aggressively and look dangerous when attacking. So I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed on Thursday, but for me the big deal is what happens from Friday to Sunday – I’ll be trying my hardest for another England win!