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Jul 07, 2014 - 06:26 AM
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Ask Alex: GP3 Silverstone Review
Posted by: newsla on Jul 07, 2014 - 06:25 AM
GP2 News
Ask Alex: GP3 Silverstone Review


It’s a shame not to have kept up my 100 per cent record of winning at GP3 rounds on my home ground at Silverstone, but the important thing is that we got a strong second place, good points and I maintained my championship lead. We had great pace again, and a lot of the outcome of the weekend hinged on varying strategies during wet qualifying.

 

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We were looking good up to qualifying. I was really confident in the car the Carlin team had given me after just one lap of free practice. We didn’t get near the top of the times, but there was a red flag late on and I got just one flying lap on my new tyres where I had to pass two cars, so it was heavily compromised. I was only a tenth off the fastest sector two time and I was fastest in sector three, so we were confident of being in the fight for pole position.

Qualifying was wet and that was all about strategy. We knew the wet-weather tyres were only good for one quick lap and the track was getting drier and drier. We had a decent first run, so I came in and we looked at the data and made a few changes to the car. Then I went out with nine minutes to go and got pole by a long way, but there were still three or four minutes left.

Jimmy Eriksson pipped me to pole in the end and he rolled the dice a bit by going out a bit later. Fair enough – it was a bold move, because if there’d been yellow or red flags he would really have been in trouble. If you get something like that wrong you could easily be P15. But it worked for him, and I was happy enough with second. We knew we had the pace.

It was dry by the time the first race came around, but my start wasn’t fantastic. I think my initial launch was better than Eriksson’s, and I was willing it to keep accelerating but didn’t get off the throttle enough, so I got too much wheelspin – I wanted to beat him so much! So we went through the first three corners three-abreast for second – I just closed my eyes and hoped I didn’t hit anyone and came out in second.

The gap stabilised to Eriksson and I was pushing all the way. Then the balance of the car started coming towards me. We both started to ramp up the pace but I had more left in my tyres. I made headway pretty quickly and I pushed really hard and managed to get the extra two points for fastest lap. I was all over him towards the end, but I couldn’t outbrake him anywhere and he didn’t make any mistakes, so it would have been difficult to make a move. I just did the best I could, staying on his case.

Second place in race one put me seventh on the grid for race two, but I got a bad start. Then I had a really good run into Turn 3 – I must have outbraked about four cars, and as I went down the inside they all sort of moved over. Then I was side by side with Ricciardo Agostini, on his outside, in the next corner, praying that he’d give me half a car’s width, but he didn’t. That shoved me wide and undid all the good work, and it became a real dogfight.

I fought back from outside the top 10 to sixth. Our pace was really strong, and I had some good overtaking moves, including passing Dino Zamparelli on the last lap after running side by side through the first three corners.

If only it had been dry for qualifying it would have been very tough for anyone to beat us. But what was nice was that, after my two wins from start to finish at Barcelona and the Red Bull Ring, people were waiting for me to prove that I could race through the field. It’s nice to get that monkey off my back and score my first points in a reversed-grid race.

And it was great being at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix weekend. Even when I was riding my bike around the circuit on Thursday I got recognised by loads of racing fans who were walking the track. It was such a nice feeling – I felt like a celebrity! It shows a lot of people follow GP3 and that’s good for the championship. It made me very proud to be there.

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