06.01.21 NL Blog

2020 in review, part 3: What made me frown…

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Nobody is going to forget 2020 in a hurry. It was a crazy 12 months. But in the midst of all the unknowns and challenges, F1 managed to put together a championship – and I got the rookie season I have working so hard for during my career.

As we gear up for the new season, I’m sharing my thoughts on some of the questions I’ve been asked about my first 17 F1 starts. This time: What made me frown…

“The answer here is two of my 2020 races – and for very different reasons. From a driving point of view, the most difficult was Portugal.

“I arrived there with a different car package, not necessarily an upgrade, but a few chassis modifications we hoped would improve some areas. In fact, it wasn’t a step at all. The changes were on my car only, and I was stuck with them for all of Friday’s running. Unable to get any references, the day was effectively a write off – although we did at least understand more about what didn’t work…

“For Saturday, we reverted back to the standard package, and the car was rebuilt around the team’s back-up chassis. There wasn’t much time to learn how this behaved around this new and technical track, and I didn’t manage to put everything together in qualifying. Things just weren’t clicking.

“To make matters worse, the back-up chassis was one of George’s – and had his personal seat belt positions. Because I’m taller, this made it an extremely painful race from about lap 20. All combined, it was probably my worst weekend – and certainly not enjoyable.

“My second frown came in Barcelona where I suffered with tonsillitis. Initially, I was worried I had Covid because I had a mild fever. But after many, many negative tests that was ruled out.

“I felt terrible all weekend. My body was aching and I almost didn’t do the race. But I was determined to start, so we agreed I would race and I’d return to the pits if my symptoms got any worse.

“Thankfully, as the race progressed I felt a bit better, although my throat was in agony – like a 9 out of 10 pain every time I had to swallow. But I was pleased I still climbed into the car and complete the weekend.”

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