Season 1 – HRT F1 Team #23 (Difficulty 4/4)
Race 1: Australia
Qualifying: 20th – Race: 22nd
After extremely positive young drivers’ tests with Ferrari, I signed with HRT for my debut season. Not having taken part in free practice, I was only a tenth down on de la Rosa’s time in Q1, but I later improved to take 20th place, second-best amongst the new teams, 2 tenths faster than my team mate.
I gained several places at the start, reaching the 8th place; but when I attacked Grosjean, he didn’t give up and pushed me from the left side: we both spun and lost three positions. Those ahead of me vanished quickly, and Petrov reached me within a couple of laps. I pitted on lap 6 and up till then everything was going pretty well, but on that same lap I was reached and attacked at the same time by Vergne and Raikkonen, on two opposite sides, and I was squeezed between them. I spun, dragging Raikkonen with me onto the wall: I lost my front wing and the Finn retired. I was handed a penalty for this which I served two laps later as on that lap my priority was to change the nosecone. As I lay alone in 22nd position, last of the running cars, I made a mistake on lap 13, spinning on the exit of turn 12, destroying my front wing and puncturing a tyre. As I was lapped twice, I ended my race exiting from the pits.
Race 2: Malaysia
Qualifying: 23rd – Race: 23rd
I waited until the last minutes of qualifying to go out, and with my first lap I was 23rd ahead of de la Rosa. On my next two laps, after improving in the first sector, I spun and I couldn’t improve my position.
With brave lines at the start I reached the 8th place, which, despite frequent attacks, I kept until lap 6 when my pit stop was scheduled. As I enter the pit lane my tyres lacked grip and I went wide, clinching the grass and spinning into the barrier, destroying my wing. I had to reverse to get into the pits, and I dropped down to 21st. Raikkonen was behind me but quickly recovered and reached me, and I kept him behind until lap 13, when Hulkenberg also reached us. At the time I was recovering even up to a second per lap on de la Rosa who was ahead of me. I made a mistake and the German passed, but I kept Raikkonen behind until the last lap, when, trying to defend, I touched him and he spun. The stewards handed me a 20 second time penalty, which dropped me also behind Vergne, by one second: I was 23rd.