I turned up to Magny-Cours to find the weather was like an English summer, really warm and very pleasant. Fresh from the last race at Silverstone, I had come armed with a few bits of important information that I hoped would help me out.
Walking around the circuit, a lot of memories came back to me from my time racing in Formula Renault Eurocup. I am pretty familiar with the track but some things do fade over time then come back to you very quickly after a few laps around the track. At the start of the weekend I hoped to finish on the podium as I think my time is more than overdue this year. The car has shown good pace in previous races and on a test day prior to Magny-Cours, I thought there was a real possibility of securing a very good result.
Practice on Friday afternoon came in a block of three hours without any breaks. The session went very well and I managed to put in the second-best time until the latter part when I struggled to find a lap without traffic on my second set of tyres. This put me back a few places and I ended day one in eighth position. But I knew I had a lot more pace than actually showed on the timesheets.
Qualifying was early in the morning when the air is denser, giving the engine more power and the car more downforce, which led to quick times. The idea in qualifying this year is to get two fast laps out of the car – your fastest time sets your grid position for the first race and your second-fastest your start in the third race. The second race is determined by the result of the first race.
On my first set of tyres I went second-quickest and on my second set of tyres I ended up with two third positions for the races, great progress from the previous races this year. I was very confident going into the first race as I knew now that I had very good pace.
The first race was in the afternoon after qualifying. I was slightly apprehensive as this was my best result in qualifying this year. Starting on third was always going to be tricky but, as I soon found out, it was going to be even harder than I expected. The race started very badly with Vergne in pole position almost stalling. I had to drive around him, creating a lot of wheelspin, losing out on one place. I thought I could recover but by the first harpin I had a shove from Rupert Svendsen-Cook that span me round and putting me back to last. I fought back with a poorly car and ended up in 13th place.
I was a bit annoyed, it was possibly my best potential race so far, but this is racing I guess. I started off from a half-decent grid slot hoping to make some decent moves and get up into the top 10. The race turned out to be very strange with the first red flag of the year. After a good start, and making up a couple of places, James Calardo rolled his car into the main harpin after the very long straight. The crash looked messy but turned out to be relatively slow-speed and he was alright. The restart went well and I made my way up to an eighth-place finish. The sprint race was very short due to the lost time on the red flag so it was all over before it really started.
The third race was a good opportunity to get my first podium finish of the year and, after a decent start and staying in third for the first two corners, this was very much a possibility. However, I outbraked myself in the 180-degree harpin corner, and Gabriel Dias managed to sneak one down the inside. I tried for quite a few laps to try and keep right up with him but found I could not push the car quite as hard as I would have liked. It was quite twitchy and, due to the high temperatures of the afternoon, it just got worse. I struggled to keep Calado behind me for more than three laps and afterwards I had a processional race to the finish with a car that wasn’t quite as quick as I would have liked. I came in fifth, my best finish of the year so far.
Magny-Cours proved to be eventful but also successful in some ways. I had my best finish but there was real unrealised potential for a podium finish. I hope to carry this on to Hockenhiem in Germany and get the results that I deserve. Overall it was a great weekend and one to remember.
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