Positive Performance Recently it feels like my feet haven't touched the ground - with testing at Monza, the Goodwood Festival of Speed, a quick trip back home and then on Thursday I was off to Magny Cours for the French Grand Prix. Magny Cours...
Recently it feels like my feet haven't touched the ground - with testing at Monza, the Goodwood Festival of Speed, a quick trip back home and then on Thursday I was off to Magny Cours for the French Grand Prix. Magny Cours is very tranquil, set in the middle of France it's surrounded by beautiful countryside and full of chateaus serving the best cuisine. We stayed in a great chateau, quite idyllic; it was very different from the usual chain hotels at GP's.
However, Magny Cours is not a circuit I like very much from a driving perspective but it looks like it would be good for spectators. I have raced there only once before in F3000. The circuit is modelled on good corners from other tracks, which put together flow reasonably well, but then there is the very slow final chicane, which spoils it all!
We made some progress in the last test at Monza and I felt that the Toyota would be quite good and knew that Michelin would bring good tyres for their home race. Friday was the usual stuff, balancing the car to the track, checking downforce levels and trying the tyre choices. On Saturday morning I woke up feeling ill, a stomach infection similar to what Mika had in Silverstone, which made things a little uncomfortable.
In qualifying both Mika and I struggled to find enough grip. I had chosen the harder of the Michelin tyres, which I knew would be good for the race, but from 16th & 17th we both had some work to do. Sunday, I was feeling back to normal, thanks to our team doctor and lots of lemon tea and honey. At the start I was able to make up four places and Mika and I ran together until my first stop, but frustratingly I was delayed for some crucial seconds by the left front wheel not going on correctly.
The next set of tyres were not well balanced with bad understeer meaning I had to wait until the second stop and another new set of Michelins before I could really push, immediately setting my quickest laps of the race, and gaining back the lost pit stop time. Unfortunately my engine broke six laps from the end as I was quickly catching the eighth placed car, dropping oil on the track just before it locked up and spun me out.
It was a disappointing end to what could have been a good result. The consolation was that my drive in the race was very competitive and we now go to Hockenheim with renewed energy and the knowledge that eventually my luck will turn.
Talking of luck, the oil dropped on the track after the engine blow up
caused some problems. The next car into the corner was the race leader
Kimi Raikkonen, followed by Michael Schumacher. Raikkonen locked a brake
on the oil and slid wide, Schumacher overtook and won the race and the
World Championship, denying Raikkonen his first Grand Prix victory.
Congratulations to Michael but I would like to point out that I did feel
sorry for Kimi, but as they say, that's racing!!!
See you in Hockenheim!