We’re into a really busy part of the GP3 Series season now, and our next stop is this weekend at Hockenheim for the German Grand Prix support races. The week after that we’re off to Hungary, so it’s two weekends in a row – where I hope to build on my series lead and add to my two wins.
Since the last round at Silverstone I’ve spent most of my time on the simulator at the Red Bull Formula 1 team in Milton Keynes. I’ve been training a bit too and also I’ve been down to Carlin, my team, in Farnham quite a bit.
I did get a couple of days off after Silverstone though, and on the Monday I went to watch the Cambridge-to-London stage of the Tour de France. Not much of a trip, because they went almost past our front door, but I got together with some friends and we cycled down to a good spot and camped out for the day. It was one of the best days out in a while!
Apart from Silverstone, Hockenheim is probably the circuit I know best, because I raced there four times in Formula 3 and also there were some test sessions there. It’s quite a simple track, but that means the lap times tend to be really close, especially as most people know their way around there pretty well.
Hopefully my track knowledge can stand me in good stead, but because almost everyone has experience there it makes it really hard to get an advantage. You have to pull off an absolutely perfect lap to get pole position there, and one tiny mistake can leave you back in fourth or fifth on the grid.
I expect us to be competitive again, because the circuit should suit the characteristics of our car better than Silverstone did. Hockenheim has long straights and tight corners, a bit like the Red Bull Ring where I got pole and a win. Also like the Red Bull Ring, we’ll be using the soft-compound tyre. Not that we’re weak on circuits like Silverstone with the hard-compound, but I think I drive better on the softer one and at Carlin we’ve dialled the car in nicely to suit it. That means we should be right in the fight for pole and for the top step of the podium.
Silverstone was the first time I haven’t been on pole this year, and qualifying showed how the unexpected can happen in motor racing. It was wet, nobody could see anything on the straight and I was thinking it was a little bit dangerous, when my friend Mitch Gilbert – we were team-mates in Formula Renault – hit another car unsighted and had an absolutely massive accident. I went off myself trying to avoid it, and got back to the pits thinking, ‘Hmmm, my back’s a bit itchy.’ It was a red flag, so I asked my engineer if I could get out, and when I did my mechanics picked out flakes of carbonfibre from down the back of the seat. It had got into my racesuit too – no wonder I was itching! Going off to avoid Mitch had also bent a trackrod and smashed the sidepod.
Luckily these cars are so strong that Mitch will be out this weekend. I’ll be hoping for less of the drama and more of a straightforward run, because I reckon we’ve got a really strong chance of some more top points.