Fantastic race, in my opinion. A record six competitors too :D
I started out on options, putting in a banker lap, before coming back into the pits to wait until the end. The lap hadn’t been my quickest, at only 1:26.5 or something, a good 7-8 tenths off of what I knew I could achieve.
Tom was looking fast, slowly eating into my time, although Alfie was looking mighty, and was eventually matching my times on the prime tyres…
I went out with a few minutes remaining, and I think I may have been held up by the Ferrari, although this could have been on my first lap. Anyway, I improved, but Tom still had provisional pole, and even after a second lap, I couldn’t beat him, and was 2 tenths down on his time.
I was instantly happy as we got into the race, seeing the rain. I knew that it would level the playing field, and it meant that Alfie’s gamble to start on primes was wiped out, and he would have been better qualifying on options to get pole :P
My start was poor, I up-shifted to second gear too early, and allowed Alfie to pull alongside me. I had to use half of my KERS to pull back ahead slightly going into the first corner. We both went wide, which allowed Téa into second, with Tom pulling away. I think Téa then went wide going into turn 3, which allowed me back into second, and I was then able to close the gap to Tom.
I was getting Tom’s slipstream on the straight leading up to the chicane of turn 14, and I was so close to hitting him, and I’m really glad I didn’t.
Then came lap two, and I used a lot of my kers to pull alongside Tom going into turn 1, and I was able to pass him, although I think he tried to undercut me, so I tried to leave him plenty of room. We were both quite even on this lap, and then he tried to do the same thing to me on lap 3. I wasn’t sure at the time if there was contact, because after that tussle, I was able to pull away quite comfortably, despite being on fuel mix 1.
All I had to do now was be consistent. My engineer had told me that the rain would be stopping soon, and I wanted to try and stay out on the inters for as long as possible. Tom pitted on lap 8 or 9, and I carried on, although the tyres were starting to slow down a little. I eventually ended up pitting on lap 11, and put on another set of inters, which was a huge mistake, because 2 laps later, I had to pit again for slicks. In hindsight, I should have either stayed out, or put the dries on earlier.
So, it was lap 14, I had fresh primes on, and was still in the lead, with lots of fuel to play with. I knew the primes could easily last the 10 laps, so I set the fuel to standard and again, tried to be consistent. I think Alfie set the fastest lap about halfway through, with a 1:27.5xx, on the options. However, I was then able to beat this on the last lap with a 1:27.211 on a set of worn options :) I think that in itself proved that I had much better race pace than quali pace.
As I said earlier, very good race, and probably our closest yet. Some very nice battles out on track, and again I’d like to thank Téa for allowing me an easy pass on the straight when lapping her. I didn’t quite get the same courtesy with the Ferrari :P
I was thinking about giving me driver of the day to Téa for a good drive to 4th place in her first race. However, I can’t ignore the blisteringly fast pace of Alfie in qualifying, so my vote goes to him :)