A LAP OF THE NEW ALGARVE CIRCUIT WITH MIGUEL RAMOS (PT) Portugal, 31 July, 2009. "It's great to be competing in my home country, Portugal; I haven't raced here since 2003 when I took part in an FIA GT race in Estoril. I know the track a little...
A LAP OF THE NEW ALGARVE CIRCUIT WITH MIGUEL RAMOS (PT)
Portugal, 31 July, 2009. "It's great to be competing in my home country, Portugal; I haven't raced here since 2003 when I took part in an FIA GT race in Estoril.
I know the track a little from the test we made here in April. For me the circuit is one of the best in Europe, it is really fantastic. It has a good mixture of high speed corners, slow corners and the main straight is nice and long -- for the circuit to be perfect for me though the interior straight should be longer.
It is hard physically and the g-force is very strong especially on the entry of the start/finish straight.
So from the start line I accelerate hard and reach up to 300 kph by the end of the pit straight. At the end of the straight I brake from sixth to fourth gear for the fast first corner, the car produces a lot of downforce here which helps to reduce the speed from 300 kph to 155 kph.
The second corner is fast and then I brake really hard for the third corner which is a tight right-hander. The car is difficult here and can oversteer so you have to be really careful. If you brake into the apex of the corner you can easily loose the rear of the car. From here it is uphill to turn four.
Turn four is amazing, it is a blind corner and very fast, I use the kerb on the exit and head along the inside straight.
I reach approximately 240 kph along the inside straight which continues to rise steeply until just before turn five where it falls sharply and I brake heavily to take the tight left-hand corner at around 70 kph. Some pilots choose first gear here but I prefer second as it is softer on the gears.
Uphill again through turns six and seven you carry a lot of speed, again another fantastic part of the circuit. I brake in the corner from turn seven to eight, it is very easy to make a mistake here and loose the rear braking into the apex.
The exit of turn eight is a slow corner. Towards corner nine the track really falls away and has a steep drop, you can feel the downforce kick in as you reach the bottom of the hill.
Up to turn ten which I think is the most difficult corner as you are braking for the corner but it is blind. You need to brake just over the brow of the hill but you cant see where the track goes and from then it is straight into a double apex.
Through turns ten and eleven the circuit drops down again, turn eleven is a nice flat corner prior to heaving braking for turn twelve which is a tight corner.
The grip is generally good for us at this circuit but the worst grip is at turn thirteen where the circuit is off-camber and as a result the car can be unsettled.
From turn thirteen I head down to fourteen which is the final right hand corner, from there it is very bumpy along the main straight to the start/finish line.
During the first practice session on Thursday afternoon the outside temperature was around 37 degrees and it was exhausting. Even with the air conditioning we have in the cockpit it was still pretty hot.
During the second practice session the temperature had dropped and the sun had set so it although it was cooler I had to concentrate much harder in the dark.
On Saturday the temperature for the start of the race at 19:15 will probably be around 28 degrees but at night it could drop to 24 degrees.
It is going to be hard at night to see the braking points so it is important to get into a good rhythm because any reference points you have in the day don't help at night, you just can't see them!
There are not too many places to overtake at this circuit. The Aston Martin is at a slight disadvantage to the open prototype cars at night as our closed cockpit has more blind spots making it harder for us to see to safely overtake.
I'm looking forward to the race on Saturday evening and for the race winner will not necessarily be the fastest car but the one that makes the least mistakes."