We’ve just finished the last of our two three-day pre-season tests in preparation for the GP2 Series. After the first one at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, we were a fair bit further south in Spain at Jerez this time. Although I’ve never raced at Jerez, I know the track pretty well I tested a Formula 3 car here, drove a DTM car for BMW and we had a GP3 pre-season test here a couple of years ago, so I was well up to speed on the circuit.
Since the Barcelona test, my preparation with the DAMS team for this had been fairly intense. The team had been working tirelessly and we turned up at Jerez with a pretty long list of things to work on. And over the three days we achieved everything we set out to do, which was really good.
Most of the quick times came on the second and third mornings of the test, where people were going for qualifying-type runs. I’m really happy with how those went but it’s that age-old thing really: testing times don’t really mean that much and I’m a firm believer in the old racing adage that, on the first race weekend, when the flag drops the bullshit stops. We can see that everyone was very fast, which is what you expect because after three days of testing everyone gets down to a good pace. But we know we’re in the fight, which is a good thing.
The afternoons were mainly about race runs, and you’ll see that overall laptime-wise my pace was pretty slow on the final day, but that’s a reflection of the programme we were on. On the first two afternoons it was different, and on each I was only just pipped to being the fastest, but again the times don’t mean that much. We actually took a different view to a lot of the others, and ran a set of option tyres, which in this case were the mediums, on the first afternoon. We just wanted to see our pace on a long run on those tyres and see how it went, and I’m very happy with it. I might end up with egg on my face, but I think we’re in a much stronger position than this time last year in terms of not only qualifying and race pace, but me as a driver and the team in general.
We’re looking strong and I’m confident, and we’re going into the first round at Barcelona in good shape. The only thing is, that’s over a month away. A whole six weeks without driving the car! It is frustrating in a way, because I just want to race, but I’ll be so busy with training, and going out to keep my hand in on my go-kart, that it’ll soon fly by. There’s a lot more to being a racing driver than just racing!
Now I’ve just finished dinner and it’s time to turn in and try to shake off this annoying bug I’ve got. It feels like a chest infection. It was OK up until the last day, which was honestly the hardest I’ve ever done in a racing car. It’s worse when you’re testing, because you’re doing long runs, out in the car on your own for an hour, barreling around, whereas race weekends are much more intense. Lucky I’ve got it now rather than in six weeks’ time!