Toyota's Allan McNish looks back over the Spanish Grand Prix. "After a few misfortunes in the previous races I saw my second chequered flag of the season at Barcelona at the weekend. Better still, Mika also finished the race which seems to show...
Toyota's Allan McNish looks back over the Spanish Grand Prix.
"After a few misfortunes in the previous races I saw my second chequered flag of the season at Barcelona at the weekend. Better still, Mika also finished the race which seems to show that we have got our reliability back.
I thought we might struggle a little in Barcelona because two things count around the Circuit de Catalunya: traction and aerodynamic performance. Obviously, our wind tunnel programme is still in its early stages and the TF102s are lacking in downforce.
I began to suspect that luck might not be on my side when I lost quite a bit of circuit time as the car stalled leaving the pit lane in Friday's first free practice session. We were basically trying a launch control start when the system aborted it. Unfortunately the car crossed the white line, which marks the official entrance to the track, and that meant I had no choice but to watch the rest of the session as a spectator.
Then I had my spin in qualifying, coming out of Turn 12. I was just trying too hard, determined to take the turn flat-out, and I just put a bit too much wheel on the inside kerb going in. That put the car across the road more than I wanted and, of course, I dropped the left rear tyre off the circuit on the exit. I thought I might get away with it for a moment but then the car swapped ends and I thought I was going to hit the wall pretty hard.
When I sorted myself out I was going backwards at an angle into the pit lane entry and I thought that I might just get away with this. I made the lightest of contact with the wall and was sat there facing the traffic as everyone came towards me. I can tell you, from that perspective, it seems like everyone's doing about 600kph.
I wasn't sure what to do about it because you are not allowed to drive the wrong way up the pitlane, but eventually I spun it round and managed to drive coolly down the pit lane as if nothing had happened.
The midfield was pretty close and we qualified 18th and 20th. Eddie Irvine's Jaguar was put behind me by the FIA for a fuel irregularity but I lost position to him away from the start. I was still cursing myself but I managed to pass both of the Jaguars into Turn 4 on the first lap.
Mika had a more incident-filled race than I did, what with an early puncture to one of his rear tyres, and I've got to say that I had a fairly lonely afternoon. There was nobody ahead of me and nobody behind for most of the race.
But, as I say, we both made the finish, with me eighth and Mika ninth and there were some solid lap times, which is encouraging. We set our clear targets at the beginning of this season to qualify both cars for all races, and to finish as many races as possible. In the first 5 races of the season both myself and Mika have together completed 428 laps out of a possible 624 - that is a finish rate of almost 70%!
From here, Ryan Briscoe will be testing at Estoril in Portugal this week in order to keep up our reliability. For me, it's a few days at my apartment in Monaco and then back home to Scotland for a wee while before the 2002 F1 championship heads to Austria in just under two weeks' time."