08.12.22 NL Blog
Abu Dhabi GP: The story behind my weekend
Formula 1’s return to Monaco this weekend is going to be something special. And it got me thinking about a few of the other street tracks I’ve competed on during my career.
I’ve raced in Monaco in both World Series and Formula 2, so I’m really eager to drive it this week in a Formula 1 car. It’ll be my first time in the Williams at a proper street track, and I expect it’s going to be a hell of an experience. Monaco is a unique event from start to finish. The circuit itself has a lot of slow and technical sections, and only a couple of fast bits. But when you add in elements like the tunnel, and driving next to the harbour where you can see people watching from the boats, it is seriously cool.
Macau is definitely my all-time favourite track, whether a street circuit or a regular one. It’s extremely narrow, but unlike a lot of street circuits it also has lots of high-speed corners. The first time I drove it I felt a bit nervous because I didn’t really know what to expect, and you hear so many stories. But when I returned to the pits after the first practice session, I got on the radio and was like “Ahhhh! Let’s do that again!” It’s great fun. Even in a Formula 3 car it was hugely fast and of course there’s absolutely no margin for error. I’d love the chance to drive it again in a faster car.
I raced at Pau just the once, back in Formula 3, and it was a fun track. There are some very high-speed corners, blind turns, and a downhill chicane where you have to absolutely clobber the kerb, which sends the car flying all over the place. Pau was my first experience of driving a street track in the wet. I remember I was at the back at the start and made it up to the battle for the podium – only to be taken out on the last lap!
This is the circuit where I had the most consistent success in Formula 2. You really need to get the car dialled into the right window because the corner range is very similar and if you drop out of that rhythm it can be tough. Another feature is the castle section, which is crazily narrow, and you have to be so careful not to whack the kerb and have a clumsy accident. Overall, for racing it’s one of the best street tracks – you have the highest top speed, a massive slipstream and DRS effect. And because the safety car line is so late you tend to have some wild restarts too.
I have to give a special mention to the circuit in the city where I was born. Okay, strictly speaking it’s not a full street track, but it’s pretty close. I’ve driven there only twice so far, but on both occasions it was at the wheel of a Formula 1 car, in the FP1 sessions in 2018 and 2019. As it’s my home F1 event it does feel very special, and the frequent sections driving between the walls keeps you focused! It is a real shame the championship isn’t able to get there again this year, but fingers crossed that opportunity will come in 2022.
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