It was crucial to keep up the momentum gained from winning my debut GP3 race in the second round at the Red Bull Ring – especially as I’m a Red Bull Junior, so it was like a ‘home’ race for us, even though it’s in Austria!
I did a lot of work preparing for this with the Carlin team, and it was so satisfying to end the weekend with my second GP3 win, and to still be on top of the championship.
It went very well from the start. Free practice on Friday was really good – the car was fantastic and it stayed that way all weekend. To be fair, we were just doing our thing and we ended up being quite a bit quicker than everyone else. We were almost six tenths quicker than anyone else, so maybe we showed our hand a little bit to the opposition…
Qualifying on Saturday morning was much closer. I got pole, but only by two hundredths of a second. In GP3 it’s really the second run on new tyres that counts, and I got a really scratchy lap because I got stuck in traffic. I think there was quite a bit more speed in my car, but still, I managed to get the job done to put it at the front.
Knowing that we had the extra pace, I was really confident for race one. I knew that if I got the start right I’d be pretty difficult to beat. It was the same as at Barcelona in the opening round – both our race pace and qualifying was really strong.
I made a good start so I got into the lead, and it was even fine having a safety car early in the race. I could just conserve my tyres nicely and pulled a nice gap to win from my team-mate, Emil Bernstorff, by 2.8 seconds. It was a really cool feeling to do it on the Red Bull Ring, especially as we had such good pace – my fastest lap was three tenths quicker than anyone else’s.
Just as at Barcelona, that put me eighth on the reversed grid for race two. And just as at Barcelona, I was certainly hoping for a lot more than we achieved. I got a good start, passed one guy and was already halfway alongside another when I got hit from the right rear at Turn 1. It punctured the right-rear tyre and rim, so as soon as I went through the first left-handed corner the car snapped and I had to come into the pits to change the wheel.
I came back out and finished 20th – I even managed to overtake one other car – but it was typical not to get a safety car in a race where I really could have done with one! The race was really disappointing, but once again we did our damage on Saturday.
I think we’ve proved quite convincingly over the first two weekends that we’ve been quickest. I’ve come away with two big wins, two big trophies and two big hauls of points, so I’m happy about that.
And next up is Silverstone. I’ve always gone really well there, with wins in Formula Renault and Formula 3. But this will be different: racing in front of the British Grand Prix crowd. I’m pumped about it and I’m going to be training hard, making that extra effort. I really want to show what I’ve got there…