GP3 champion! That sounds good, and it was a great relief to finally wrap it up in Friday’s qualifying session. You get four points for pole position in GP3, and with my main rival Dean Stoneman not getting pole that meant no one could catch me. It took a while for the title to sink in because winning it after qualifying felt a bit weird, but now it feels really good.
In free practice we were fastest. The car felt mega straight away, which was a little bit of a good and a bad thing, because although the car is great you know the track needs to rubber in a bit. We’d been first out on the circuit so we knew it was going to be a different scenario when the F1 rubber went down.
I qualified fourth, but I know second was definitely possible. There was only a tenth in it between Dean in second and me in fourth, and you know there’s always a couple of tenths in you. But I don’t think pole position was achievable – Marvin Kirchhofer was way too fast. Still, from this point on the pressure was off – I was champion.
My Carlin team-mate Emil Bernstorff was third on the grid, but unintentionally we ended up compromising each other’s race right at the beginning. I made the slightly better start, and I thought I’d force him to defend the inside and then cut back, but he actually braked really early and by then I was committed to the outside, so we both understeered, with me going off the track.
We let Dino Zamparelli through and then in typical fashion it was little bit processional, with Emil finishing fourth and me fifth. It’s the tyres – even if someone has no pace all weekend, if they get in the lead in the reversed-grid race they can make everyone else look silly. It makes a huge difference – I don’t know why or how – but if you’re following cars you’ve just got no pace. You feel as though you’re driving to the limit of the tyre, and then you think ‘I’m fed up with this, I’m going to make a difference’, but then you start sliding around and… clearly not!
Going into Sunday there were only five points between Carlin and ART Grand Prix and all our concentration was now on securing the teams’ championship. I really wanted to do the Grand Slam of the teams’ and the drivers’ for Carlin – they deserve it. There was a nice little pre-race meeting between Emil, myself and the engineers and we thought out a few scenarios, but it basically fell our way anyway with Kirchhofer not making it off the grid. Me and Emil both made better starts than Alex Fontana and passed him at Turn 1, and that situation was then under control.
Then it was just a case of finishing the race – I was third but then promoted to second after the race when Patric Niederhauser was excluded from his win. It’s great to be champion after all the efforts we’ve made as a team this year, and I’m delighted I was able to help Carlin win the teams’ championship as well. I’d like to give a shout out to my engineer Matt Callaghan, my mechanics Mark Centauro and Sam Blogg and my performance engineer Jenny Anderson for some amazing hard work. And then I’d like to thank my physio Matt Tait for putting up with me through thick and thin, my trainer James Wozencroft for… putting up with me. And my family for, once again… putting up with me!
There’ll be no celebrating at home just yet, because I’m staying in Abu Dhabi for some GP2 testing this week, one day with Carlin and one with ART. That’s the next step up the ladder, so needless to say I’m really looking forward to it.