Tried a new setup going into quali, and wasn’t sure if it would help or not. I had done very little practice, but I knew that I had terrible balance on the Options. But to my delight, the new setup was perfect. I did a couple of laps, securing a 1:10.6xx and second place, which I really didn’t expect. This was also helped by the fact that Brooksy had been DQ’d for some reason.
I waited until the dying moments of the session to go out on fresh options, managed to beat my time by 3 tenths, kept second place and had better tyres :)
Off the line, I was quicker than Shane, and was confident that I could drive around him into turn 1. However, I’m not sure who it was, but someone clipped me from the rear, spinning me around, and holding me there for at least 10-15 seconds or so. I thought my race was over from there, but I carried on, passing Brooksy up into the long left-hander, which was a bit scary.
Somehow, by the end of lap 1, I was 4th and chasing down Tea, whom I was able to pass a lap later I think, which left me chasing down Bradley and Shane. Bradley was in front at this time, and I seemed to be the quickest, judging by my fastest laps, so I was quickly able to close the gap. Unfortunately though, I just couldn’t find a way to pass them. They picked up the pace as my tyres started to go off, and even worse – I broke my front wing. I had to do an extra lap, but I still pitted a lap earlier than I wanted to. However, going into the pits, Shane made a mistake, so I was in front of him at this point, but because I had to change my front wing, my stop was slower…
We came out together, and I was still on lower fuel mix to save the tyres, but I was consistent enough to keep within a couple of seconds of Shane. Though, on the next lap, as Bradley was exiting the pits, I did see that Shane moved to the right, which went straight into the path of Bradley, spinning him in the process.
Anyway, this continued for a while, Bradley was still in 3rd, though about 10 seconds behind. Then, the Safety Car came out. Shane pitted, but I decided to stay out, it was way too early to pit in my opinion. The worst thing was that my deficit to everyone had been vanquished, especially to Brooksy, who was lightning quick.
At the restart, I was a bit cautious, and I think Shane got the jump on Bradley, and then hit into the back of me, swerving me and letting Bradley through. I think Brooksy then got passed Shane and tried to take me, knocking me wide going into the little right hander before the hairpin. I was quite slow on worn tyres, but still managed to eek the performance out to lap 19, and pitted.
From then on, I was stuck behind David for 2 laps, before he made a mistake, allowing me to get passed, and I could chase down Bradley, who was on fresher tyres than me. Not sure what happened, but he pitted again, possibly following a crash, which gave me a net third. Tried to be consistent until the end, and luckily for me Abbmacher made a mistake which halted his progress on me. Shane seemed to completely run out of grip by the end, and I think I made about 10 seconds on him on the last lap alone.
Overall, a decent race and I’m very happy with a podium. It could have gone better had it not been for the first lap incident, and a couple of others, but it also could have gone a lot worse! Congrats to Brooksy for a stunning drive, even if it was aided my a well-timed Safety car ;). Commiserations to Bradley, he was quick and deserved a better place, but that’s just Monaco unfortunately.