Melbourne F1 Grand Prix

Man, what a weekend… it was so incredibly cool to finally be inside the F1 paddock, and get to see my ultimate goal from behind the scenes, right amongst it all.

The week leading up to it, the GP weekend itself, and the 4 days after have been some of the busiest days I think I’ve ever had, between my role with Acronis, our F1 partnerships, and our partnerships outside of F1… not to mention networking, presenting at our guests brunch, and ultimately enjoying myself!

One of my highlights of the weekend was being able to catch up with some of my old engineers & mechanics from my F3 days, who are now all working in F1… so it was super cool to catch up with them and see them in their element.

I’ve finally got some down time now on my flight home, so I’m catching up on admin, my blog + other projects I’ve got going on right now…! Looking forward to getting home and seeing Einstein and my family & friends… not so sure about coming home to colder weather though haha….

Hungaroring

This weekend was pretty trying I have to admit. Besides having my brother Steve with me which was epic to be able to finally have him here for one of my European races which he’s never been able to come to. For probably my favourite track I’ve ever raced at, after having such great success here 4 years ago in my first every Euro F3 race, it wasn’t as good a weekend as I’d hoped for. We struggled all weekend with set up, and then I struggled again in both races again with the common trend of this season – which in every race, as a driver, you have to make a decision fairly soon into your stint, whether to race…. Or to find a clear running space to pump out fast laps to score points for the internal championship going on within our team… and for me as a racer, I am never able to commit properly to the absolute ridiculous notion of slowing down, letting cars pass you etc…. just to find a piece of clear running space and then going quick again.

To me the point’s system our team put in place for the series creates a massive of conflict of interest, and defies the point of racing. Basically how it’s set up means that you don’t get any points for qualifying position, or finishing position of the races. Instead each driver is ranked in order of the average of their 5 fastest race laps… which basically means when you’re running in a championship with multiple different manufacturers and BOP’s (Balance of Performance) – you end up having to engage in some pretty full on battles with other cars throughout the races, mainly for us defending for overtakes on the straights where we lack top speed, and then having to take gaps and pass in the high risk areas of the circuit, braking zones and turns, where we are at an advantage to the other cars. While all of this is great…. It means that if you’re battling a Porsche or Maserati for the lead of the race each lap, you’re going consistently slower than some punter in 10th place, who is all alone on the track, and is able to go consistently slightly quicker than you in clear running space.

That isn’t racing, and I can’t begin to tell you how frustrated it makes me having to try to do one or the other, and I always end up unable to commit to one option, and end up trying to do both, which ends up with me doing a poor job either way. I still to this moment in the season don’t understand the stupidity in the points system. How it is now is basically time trials all weekend, and theoretically, one could fart around all weekend in practice and qually to save your tyres for the race, start right at the back, avoid all the risk & potential contacts of a race in the opening laps, and then pump out 5 quick laps at the back, and be declared the winner… it’s quite frankly a joke.

Racing to me, is the competition between drivers to race, and to be the fastest. That result and title comes from multiple factors, not just going fast around a track. It’s being the fastest, and the best, in all aspects. Qualifying, Starting, Pit stops, Passing, Race Craft, Managing your Tyres…. and for me after having raced at much higher levels of motorsport to come back to such stupid rules and point system really makes me feel unmotivated.

So anyway for now, we look forward to the final race of the season in two weeks in Zandvoort, which will be really interesting. I will be going into the weekend 100% with my usual way of driving, giving everything I have right till the chequered flag.

Birthday at 32,000Ft & Singapore GP

Birthday at 32,000 ft & Singapore GP

As with most of my trips to Europe to race, the few days leading up to leaving are pretty stressful, running around trying to get everything sorted and packed without leaving anything behind or till the last minute. This trip was no different, and I also had to fly out on my birthday which was pretty lame, and marks like the 5th birthday I’ve had away from my family and friends at home…. But this feeling was pretty short lived and I was made to feel at home very soon after take-off on my first leg with the crew bringing me a piece of birthday cake & some champagne which was great. One good thing of always flying the same airline and route is that you soon come to know the staff & crew around that journey very well, which is quite cool.

Even greater than my glass of champagne and massive slice of cake which I couldn’t finish, though, was the fact that I was flying to Singapore for the night on the same weekend as the Singapore GP… and instead of getting off my flight and then chilling at the airport transit hotel for the next 22 hours, I was stoked to have a few of my friends from the F1 circus waiting for me in the city, and so after quickly getting freshened up I boosted into town to meet them, and first watched F1 qually from the Marina Bay Sands, before spending the rest of the night having awesome Mexican food & drinks at my friends restaurant Super Loco at Customs Wharf, which was epic!

I’m now waiting to board my flight to Europe & my last two races of the season… bring it on!!!

SPA Review

A weekend racing at Spa is never bad… but this one could have been better! It was great to be back at this legendary track, and I was feeling very confident in the car all Friday in practice. Unfortunately Qually didn’t go to plan as I had traffic each lap which was annoying, but it didn’t effect us to much in the end anyway as our starting postion for Saturdays 2hr race was taken from the average time of the quickest lap of both me and my team mate Immanuel, and with such changing conditions between the two qualifying sessions, it was impossible to get some consistancy and basically just came down to luck. Saturday was a super rough day at the office, and a painful reminder of how cruel this sport sometimes is! I started the race and managed to avoid a chaotic first corner and lap, which very nearly ended our race. I handed the car over to Immanuel after 35 minutes, where he ran a solid 50 minute stint before handing the car back to me for the remainder of the race. We had mega pace and I faught my way up to P2, with the lead car still having to make their final pit stop. Coming onto the start finish straight on my 7th lap of my stint, both drive shafts decided to call it quits forcing me to retire the car just along the pitwall costing what would have been our first win of the season. Super hard to swallow but proud of our effort none the less. On the plus side, I didn’t have far to walk back to the pits…. 😉

 

Spa Preview

So as my trip nears it’s end, I’m starting to get pretty excited to be racing at one of my favourite tracks again soon on the 7th of July. Spa Francorchamps is definitely one of the greatest tracks in the world, and my last time there in Formula 3 ended with me on the podium a couple times & starting from pole for the first time in F3, and in the wet. Sadly my start to that race definitely wasn’t the best in my career haha, and the thrill of  leading the field on the formation lap up to the starting grid ended pretty quickly when the lights went out when I dumped the clutch a little too eagerly and basically sat still in my grid box doing a burn out for what seemed like for ever, while almost the whole field passed me into turn one….!

Needless to say that won’t be happening this weekend thankfully rain or shine as we enjoy rolling starts in the GT4 championship!  But no I’m looking super forward to getting back in the car.

Sponsor day

So over the last two days, I’ve been with my team and our sponsors Internet X at a special event arranged by them and one of their close friends World Hosting days – together they invited around 50 of the worlds best from the hosting industry, and we were there to show them how to drive and share what it is we do with them.  which was pretty cool because we don’t often get the chance to do that, or let alone take people for rides… especially me considering I have driven single seaters most of my time racing!

The track day was held is a super sick location just out of Salzburg at the Salzburgring, which is set in the middle of some hills & forrest, so it’s pretty beautiful. The first day we were there we were kind of doing our own thing, and setting up for all the guests the following day, where we took them for laps in our KTM X-Bow, along with the Reiter GT3 Camero & GT1 Murcielago.

Met some great people over the course of the weekend and really enjoyed showing them what I do and how I do it. My highlight was definitely taking a 9 year old boy of one of the guests around for some hot laps, while he was meant to be at school for the day. He was so super excited and to see his excitement beforehand and the massive smile on his face afterwards was super cool.