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Jul 20, 2014 - 03:06 PM
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Ask Alex: GP3 Hockenheim Review
Posted by: newsla on Jul 20, 2014 - 03:05 PM
GP2 News
Ask Alex: GP3 Hockenheim Review


I’ve had a really positive weekend at Hockenheim for the fourth round of the GP3 Series. I didn’t get the win I was hoping for, but a second and a third from the two races gave me a lot more points than my main title rivals.

 

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With the Carlin team, I was expecting to do really well at Hockenheim, and free practice started well with some really strong runs. But when we got onto new tyres we weren’t quite there. We knew we had a few things to sort out so we worked really hard on Friday night on improvements to the car, and that turned out to pretty important for the rest of the weekend.

I went fastest on my first set of tyres in qualifying, but then when everyone put their second set on I dropped to second. It was so close – I missed out on pole position by less than six hundredths of a second. I thought I’d done enough with my 1m28.7s, but Marvin Kirchhofer just pipped me. Conditions were really hot, which meant the peak of the tyres was a really short time, and on my first quick lap there was a yellow-flag situation towards the end of the lap so I had to abort it. Then on my second I was just losing a bit of life from the rears towards the end of the lap. But what can you say? At least it was my fourth consecutive front-row qualifying performance in GP3, so I have to be happy with that.

My start wasn’t the greatest in race one but I didn’t lose any positions. After that I stayed close to Kirchhofer for a few laps but I didn’t have enough to attack him. We weren’t that strong on race pace so I just needed to score the points.

I would have really liked to win it but I didn’t even have enough to go for fastest lap – we were generally struggling a little bit and in the hot conditions the car wasn’t quite right. I thought I was driving the worst car in the world, but I did the second fastest lap of the race so it must have been better than the other 25! It was a good day though really, just that it was a little bit better for Kirchhofer.

That second place put me seventh on the grid for the reversed-grid race on Sunday morning, which was much cooler with a bit of dampness in the air. Kirchhofer got a little bit of a better start than me so I dropped to eighth, but then I made up four places in one corner! Going down to the hairpin we were almost five-abreast. I’ve generally been really confident on the brakes throughout the season, I was really going for it and it all worked out. As I came out of the hairpin I had Dean Stoneman alongside me but I was on the inside for the next corner, although he squeezed me as much as he could. Once that had been done I counted, ‘First, second, third, fourth: that’s all right!’ That was quite nicely done!

That put me right behind Jimmy Eriksson, my main title rival, which considering he started five places ahead of me was good going. On the next lap Jimmy ran wide at the hairpin, just where there was a yellow flag, and because of the yellow there was nothing I could do. That was a bit disappointing – the one major mistake he made, and I wasn’t allowed to capitalise.

A few laps later I was able to have another go at him at the same place I’d passed Stoneman, but I wasn’t quite as far up alongside and he chopped across my nose pretty hard. I could have kept my foot in, but that would have ended up with a crash. After my risky move at the hairpin on lap one, I thought fourth place was a decent job. Anyway, the stewards looked into Jimmy’s driving at the hairpin under the yellows and gave him a time penalty, putting him down to 15th and me up to third – even better for the championship!

So although we didn’t get the win we were looking for, and we were really annoyed to miss out on pole by such a small amount, Hockenheim was really a case of ‘job done’. I got good points and extended the gap in the championship. With just a few days before we head out for practice at the Hungaroring, we just need to keep rolling on and fighting the whole way – just as we’ve been doing so far.

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