This week’s update comes with a heavier heart due to the tragic events in Paris over the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend.
Formula 1, GP2 and the motorsports community have deep roots in France and particularly in Paris where the FIA headquarters are located. The whole sport had France in our thoughts and prayers for everyone affected by the horrible events that unfolded last Friday night. I was very proud with the way F1 paid tribute to France before the race and it was an honor to be a driver on the Brazilian Grand Prix grid.
With my impending season finale GP2 commitments, the Brazilian Grand Prix was my final F1 race for 2015 with Manor Marussia F1 Team. I’m very satisfied with my 2015 F1 debut, finishing four out of five in front of my teammate for the races and three out of five in front for qualifying. Most of all, I can say we now have the F1 foundation in place for 2016.
The Brazil weekend was up and down and we struggled to find the right balance for the car in both practice and qualifying. In quali we ended up in front of the other car, but we were still missing time and I was pushing hard on my quickest lap. For Sunday, I was battling understeer for most of the race. The first stint was good on the option tire until about lap ten and then the car became extremely front end limited.
The second and third stints we were on the primes and we made adjustments at both stops, but the improvement was marginal. As a racer your DNA is to perform, so when you’re limited by these things it can be frustrating, but then after an hour or so post-race I was already thinking about Bahrain this weekend.
I want to thank everyone at Manor Marussia F1 Team and Racing Engineering for making the switch from GP2 to F1 and back to GP2 and back to F1 again so easy. It’s quite humbling when I stop and think about how incredibly hard working, talented and good spirited the teams of people are that I have around me this year. Racing Engineering have provided me with a great platform in GP2 to show what I’m capable of and Manor F1 allowed me to do what I needed to do for 2016, and they did so with full support for me wherever I needed it. It’s been an honor to race with them since Singapore and I look forward to being back again next year.
Before the Abu Dhabi final rounds of F1 and GP2, it’s back across the Atlantic to Bahrain. On Sunday I left directly after the F1 race in Brazil for Bahrain, for the penultimate round of GP2 2015. We’ve already run a GP2 race weekend there this year, back in April with F1.
This time we’re on the same bill as the WEC teams and even though it’s the same track it’s a different challenge, partly due to the fact the WEC guys run on Michelin rubber and the track surface will behave a bit differently than a F1 / GP2 weekend, where most cars are on Pirelli tires.
As I said in a previous blog for NBC Sports just after Mexico, we did a lot of preparation for Bahrain and Abu Dhabi with Racing Engineering at their base in Spain last week. This means we are ready to go from the very first practice laps and my only goal is to lockdown second place in the 2015 GP2 championship.
I can’t wait to get back into my GP2 car. That might sound strange since I’ve just had three rounds in a row in F1, but as I’ve said all year Racing Engineering is one of the best teams in this series and together we have a package that really has a realistic chance of winning races each weekend.
It’s been a fantastic year, a year that’s met expectations in some areas, exceeded in others and no doubt has more highs to come before we are done. For now, my sole focus is Bahrain, 100%! After that box is ticked, we’ll think about Abu Dhabi and how to finish the season in style. Thank you for your support and I look forward to sharing more of my journey with you next week.