Timo Bernhard: From delight to despair for the #1 Porsche crew
In the first of a new series of columns for Motorsport.com, Porsche WEC star Timo Bernhard reflects on a tough opening weekend of the new season for the #1 crew at Silverstone.
There couldn't be a better track to kick off the new FIA WEC season than Silverstone. The track is full of heritage and fun to drive, a historic circuit with a challenging layout, and the British crowd make it an amazing atmosphere whatever the weather.
It's always exciting to get into a new racing car, but to have the #1 this year is even more special, and of course we want to defend our title.
In the last two years we have been focussing on developing the car with a view to Le Mans from the start of the season, but this year we have come to the first race with a high-downforce aero package – and from first practice you could see just how well suited this was to track.
Mark and Brendon shared qualifying duties, which was a tricky task in the wet conditions. With FP3 being cancelled due to snow, we missed some information for the setup.
Regardless, the guys did a great job. Audi were clearly stronger than us in qualifying and therefore P3 was a good position for us to work from.
We couldn't have asked for better conditions for the race on Sunday, when there was a clear blue sky and a dry track. Mark started the race and picked off both Audis relatively quickly before handing over to Brendon for the second stint. They both did a great job and put us in the lead with a 44-second gap.
Before you get behind the wheel, you have a window where you start to physically and mentally prepare yourself for your stint: you start with light warm-up exercises, visualise the track, put the helmet on and get in the zone.
Watch Hartley's crash:
My stint was about to come up when the accident happened. I saw the car in the gravel and knew the race was over. It was a strange situation to take off the helmet and stay in the garage without having done any mileage.
Racing isn't simply getting into the car and race – you leave no stone unturned in your preparation to deliver the best you can when you get into the car and it's not as simple to wind down when you were prepared to give it your absolute all.
Of course it has been disappointing not to finish the race and miss out on points. But that's racing and incidents can happen; the most important thing is that Brendon is okay.
Overall we take a lot of positives from the weekend. We worked very well together as a team, performed great pitstops, we've got a solid base with the 919 Hybrid and have shown a strong performance, topping the timesheets in the practice sessions and building a solid lead in the race.
We have also seen that the competition has caught up. Audi made a very strong impression and I'm sure Toyota will step up with their new car too. It's encouraging to know we have a fast car and we'll come back at Spa!
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