“I’ve had bright moments, but things haven’t gone to plan…”
05/12/2018 Posted in: Racing
It has been a really tough second half of the season for me in the FIA Formula 2 Championship and the final round supporting the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina was sadly no different. Although we managed to show pretty good pace in qualifying, it was very difficult in both races with the balance of the car never allowing me to perform to my best.
Arriving in Abu Dhabi with the ART Grand Prix team, we had some ideas of things we could try, as we knew we needed to do something different to the previous rounds. The feel of the car was wrong for Free Practice on Friday but this at least gave us a direction to go in with setup for Qualifying.
Qualifying was under the floodlights on Friday night and the decrease in track temperatures probably helped us. I was reasonably happy to end up fifth and be back in the mix for the top positions. Our constant issues with the car lately – which has required me to change my driving style so frequently – meant that I was more cautious for the first few corners on my lap than I should have been. As the lap went on and I found myself with a happier balance, I was among the very quickest in the technical sector three, though, which was nice!
At the start of Saturday night’s Feature Race, it was unlucky that Nicholas Latifi stalled right in front of me on the grid. I had to do a big swerve to avoid hitting him which cost me a few places before the safety car came out, as Arjun Maini had not been as lucky in avoiding Latifi. After the restart, I pulled off a cheeky move around the outside of Roberto Merhi at Turn 1 and that put me back up to sixth.
In the early part of the race on the supersoft tyre, while everyone was fighting big degradation, our pace was OK. However, as soon as we pitted and went onto the soft tyre, the balance shifted and I knew it would be a difficult race. I was struggling with the front of the car and having to hold back to preserve the tyres while others around us seemed more comfortable. I lost a few places and ended up finishing 10th – frustrating but at least I got a point.
That night, we analysed what had happened in the race and made some changes for Sunday’s Sprint Race, where I was starting 10th on the grid. Unfortunately, the pace didn’t really materialise and, if anything, the car was slightly worse. I pushed the car as much as I could but still lost a couple of places, finishing in 13th.
Looking back now my rookie season in F2 is over, I have had some bright moments – a win at Barcelona and another podium at Baku – but overall things have definitely not gone to plan, especially since the summer: a shame as we could really have been in the fight with our pace.
I plan to be back on the F2 grid next season, and I stayed in Abu Dhabi for the post-season test, which took place a few days later. I had a good run to set me up for the winter and to hopefully hit the ground running at the beginning of 2019.
I hope to be able to make an announcement on my future before too long so keep checking back here and on my social media for all the latest news!