I’ve had a few weeks to wait for it, but this is finally the weekend where, barring total disaster, I will be crowned as the GP3 Series champion for 2014. With the Carlin team I’ve been in front since the start of the year, and we go into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix support races 47 points ahead – with just 48 on the table. Four of those points are for pole position, so if anyone other than my only rival Dean Stoneman takes pole on Friday then I’m champion.
In terms of the championship we have not really been too worried since the previous round, supporting the Russian GP. It’s nice to go in with a buffer in the points, but even so it’s not done until it’s done, and I won’t rest until it’s won. But realistically the main focus for me is to help Carlin win the teams’ championship. That’s a little bit up in the air and it’s a good goal to set.
Obviously I’ve been working as hard as usual for myself, because I want to win the race. This is my first time racing in Abu Dhabi but I’ve driven the Yas Marina track in the simulator. Some of the new types of track aren’t the nicest, but this is definitely my favourite new-style circuit. It’s got a lot of elements and it flows really nicely. I like it. Last year Carlin drivers finished second and third in the feature race, and qualified second and fourth, so we’re expecting and hoping to hit the ground running and be quick straight away.
The goal is definitely to nail it in qualifying to get pole position and then try and win the first race. Points-wise it’s not like at Sochi, where it was a case of things still could go wrong if I made a big mistake and someone had an amazing last two rounds. We just need to concentrate on doing the best we can and try to win.
I arrived at the circuit on Tuesday. I was at Ferrari World here and I got a Tweet through my phone – with a photo of me – from Max Verstappen, and I looked at it and thought ‘Hang on a minute – am I being watched?’. And I turned round and there was him having lunch in the same restaurant. Small world.
Then we ended up going on the electric go-karts, which was quite fun. Before we went on I saw on the leaderboard that Max had set the third-fastest lap time for the day. I spent the whole time having a battle like hell with my personal trainer James Wozencroft – we certainly weren’t going for lap times, just slowing each other up! Matt Tait my physio was on as well, and he managed to get within four tenths of Max, so I’m fully expecting him to get the call to join the Red Bull Junior scheme! That was proper fun, and the surface was so slippery, like a dodgem track, that the karts were sliding around at such slow speeds. As we finished Max was in the queue ready to go in again.
I’ve also been nominated as one of the contenders for British Competition Driver of the Year at the Autosport Awards. Autosport has been the leading British motor racing weekly magazine since the 1950s and its website is good too. The Awards are really prestigious, so I’m chuffed to be one of six nominees. I’ve been trying to get family and friends to vote for me but I know it’s going to take something special to win it – after all I’m up against Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and World Endurance champion Anthony Davidson!
In the meantime I’ve just got to focus on wrapping up the GP3 title, and to do that I really want to finish the season like we started it, on the top step of the podium. It’s been a long year, it’s been difficult, and we’re within one finger length of touching the title…