A challenging start to the race season!
Well the start of the season isn’t quite going to plan…
The last day of pre-season testing at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium on Friday 27 March had gone really well until I had a huge accident in the final few laps of the day. I ran slightly wide at Pouon, onto the AstroTurf, hit a bump and the car was launched into the barrier, with a 98 mph lateral 44 g impact.
The car was severely damaged which meant that Team Parker had to work all weekend stripping the car back to the bare shell, then taking it back to Germany and picking up a brand new one. This arrived on Wednesday at 1 pm, and the team had to build a complete new car and have it wrapped in full livery by Thursday afternoon to travel to Brands Hatch for the first race meeting. A monumental task.
They achieved the impossible! What an absolutely amazing effort by all the guys. I felt terrible that I’d caused all that work and absolutely humbled by the positive and enthusiastic way they all reacted to the challenge.
Brands Hatch – Rounds 1 & 2
Friday’s two test sessions were used to shake the new car down, make sure everything was working and run in components. It was an amazing job. The new car felt really good!
Saturday qualifying was a bit mixed up as it was damp and drizzly rain which gave us only one chance on new wet tyres and 30 cars on a tiny circuit like Brands Hatch Indy was always going to be a bit of a lottery with traffic. I qualified 4th for race 1 and 7th for race 2 which I was disappointed with, but I knew it wasn’t a lack of pace, just a bit unlucky on my best lap with traffic on the final corner.
In race 1 I was running in 2nd place when I was given a drive-through penalty for being incorrectly positioned at the start of the race. Unfortunately there is no photographic or video evidence so I just have to accept that I must have been a little outside my start place on the grid. I definitely didn’t jump the start.
The penalty which put me from P2 to last in the race was harsh considering I didn’t gain an advantage. There were three safety cars which meant that I couldn’t get back up to the front and I finished 14th. I was absolutely gutted, as once you have served a drive through penalty, there’s nothing can be done to put it right if the decision is wrong. All I can do is try to forget about it and move on.
On Sunday, I started 7th and finished on the podium in 3rd. Once again it was a crazy race with three safety cars. The disastrous first round has severely dented my championship defence, but I’ll do my best to put in great performances for the rest of the season and see where we end up. Certainly the pace is there and the car feels good. The team are fantastic and I am sure we’ll get the success they deserve very soon.
It was great to see so many supporters and receive so many good wishes before and after Brands Hatch. It’s been a challenging start to the year to say the least, but we’re all really determined to put the bad luck behind us and get back to the front.
Thank you for all your support, tweets and messages, it really means a great deal to all of us to have such loyal and enthusiastic support!