08.12.22 NL Blog
Abu Dhabi GP: The story behind my weekend
“Race day was another scorcher in Barcelona and heading to the grid there was a feeling it was going to be a difficult race for everyone to manage due to the heat and the way the tyres were reacting.
At the start I had a good launch, and my initial getaway was strong, but I was caught out in the first few corners. I wanted to go on the outside for Turn 1 but we were three-wide and there’s such a big blind spot in these cars that I didn’t want to risk turning in on someone. Considering this, and the chance of someone chopping across my front wing, I backed off going into Turn 2 and conceded the positions.
That set the tone for the first stint – which was really tough. In gusty winds and on a baking track the car was challenging to drive – especially in dirty air. I also had some cooling issues, so had to leave a gap to the car in front, and then of course I was keeping a close eye on the tyres…
At one stage we tried to see if we could make a one-stop work by extending the opening stint. It was worth a push, but during the last few laps I was losing so much time that we reverted to the original two-stop plan.
Across the next two stints the pace was actually fine – relative to what the team expected and where we wanted to be. Faced with some difficult circumstances, we didn’t underperform against the Haas and Alfa Romeo drivers.
Okay, there were a few little issues that cost some speed, and I had to make sure the car reached the end of the race – but that’s the challenge of Formula 1 sometimes. If the first stint was a little better I may have classified higher up, around where George was, but not this time.
After three weeks on the road, I’m looking forward to a brief break now before the next triple header. It’s a tough schedule for all of us in the team, so it’s good to catch a breath before we go again!”
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