My plan for quali was pretty much the same as in Canada. I was tempted to go out on options, but never did in the end. Unfortunately though, my pace relative to other’s wasn’t quite as good. I was still able to take 2nd, but I was 8 tenths off of Shane, who was on primes as well this time…
The start was almost a carbon copy of in Canada. I managed to get a better start than Shane and took the lead into the first corner, though I was quite weary of Shane sweeping round to take the usual line and have us collide, but luckily this wasn’t the case.
I felt even better when I saw Bradley behind me. His pace in quali hadn’t been quite as good as mine, so I was pretty sure that I’d be faster in the race, and that he might provide a nice little buffer for me, and give me a head start on both Shane and Brooksy (Not intentionally of course). What I definitely did not expect was to have the Lotus hit into the back of me in the chicane before the hairpin, spinning me around, allowing both Shane and Brooksy through in the process. I think it’s fair to say that I was pretty annoyed by this. My choice of phrase was something similar to Button’s radio message when he and Hamilton collided in Canada 2011. Without a pace advantage, and a gap of around 15-20 seconds by this point to the lead, I was sure that the victory was well out of my grasp. My only hope was that Shane, somewhere along the line might have made a fatal error.
This left me and Bradley scrapping over third (Which turned into 2nd soon after, with Brooksy going off somewhere, not sure what happened, and eventually retiring in the first 6-7 laps). Behind him, I had no grip in the corners. I had never experienced turbulence this bad before, and for some odd reason had a lot of trouble braking into the corners, even when ahead.
Anyway, I’m not sure why but Bradley let me through soon after Brooksy retired, and I think he made 1-2 mistakes after that, which I think cost him a lot of time. My pace was nowhere near Shane’s, and it only really improved when I put the options on, but by this time, Shane was closing in on bridging the gap at 40 seconds ahead.
On the third from last lap, I pitted again for options. I didn’t need to, but I thought with 2nd secured nicely, I might as well go for the fastest lap. I came out of the pits just ahead of Bradley (he’d been lapped) and set about preparing to go for the fastest lap on the last lap. Bradley got the DRS on the back straight, so I left all the room on the inside for him to shoot passed me, since there was no point in being defensive. He explained that he thought I was going to go defensive, but it didn’t happen, he tried to go on the outside (where there was no room) and hit me, which spun me into the wall and damaged my front wing.
I tried to go for the fastest lap thereon after, but I had too much understeer to get near Shane’s time.
Congrats to Shane for the victory, it was thoroughly deserved, though I wish I could have made it harder for him. I believe this also makes him Champion, which again I will congratulate him for, he’s driven a great end to the season.
Overall, I’m very happy with my season, especially since I’ve been on the podium every race since Spa, which included two victories. Had I been here for the whole season, I definitely think I could have challenged for the title, considering I missed 8 races, and even a 5th in each of those would have given me 80 points, putting me at a total of 244, or something like that. But anyway, that’s just ifs, buts and maybes. It’s been a good season, with some highs and lows. Definitely looking forward to the Winter series now.