23.12.20 NL Blog

2020 in review, part 1: What made me smile…

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Nobody is going to forget 2020 in a hurry. It’s been a crazy 12 months. But in the midst of all the unknowns and challenges, F1 managed to put together a championship – and I got my rookie season.

As the year comes to an end, I wanted to share my thoughts on some of the questions I’ve been asked about my first 17 F1 starts. Here goes…

What’s been the highlight of 2020?

This has to be the two P11 finishes I scored at Monza and Imola – getting to within one place of my first F1 points on both occasions. I’m not counting my P11 in Austria because that was a race where I benefited from a fair few issues ahead. My race was about staying clean and seeing where I ended up.

Monza was a weird one because I didn’t feel like the track suited the car very well, but at Imola things sort of clicked much more and the car was good in the race. I found a good rhythm and was able to extend my first stint on the option tyres and put myself in a good position to try and capitalise on that.

It turned out to be one of those races where you’re able to keep a good pace, stay consistent which, in our car, is not always the easiest thing to do for an hour and a half.

At the end of the race, it was a mix of emotions. On one hand it was a really strong result for me and our car, because we know it’s not the 11th fastest car on the grid. There was satisfaction that we did a really good race from a team-side strategy, pit stops and also from a personal performance on my side.

But also there was a realisation that with one more position you’re going to be in the F1 points – and there’s obviously a bit of frustration about being so close – and perhaps if I had done something a little different at that restart… A few ‘what ifs’ after that particular race for me.

Beyond those two races, the build up to my opening race of the season in Austria was something I’ll never forget. Up to then, the practice and build-up, pre-season testing, even the COVID break, had felt almost like business as normal.

But pulling away for the formation lap, then lining up for the start was when I really thought: ‘okay, here we go!’

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