Monza 2011

Monza is one of the oldest circuits still in use for racing. It has massive amounts of history and many famous corners that you will see featuring in some of the biggest crashes on YouTube. It is an extremely quick circuit to drive on, and one of the most challenging, as well as one of the most enjoyable.

The weather at Monza was very hot, averaging 34 degrees. This created a bit of an issue with the tyres overheating but we also saw quite high grip as a result. Due to the World Touring Car Championship and Auto GP being at Monza at the same time the pit garages were very tight and cramped. This meant no pit-stop race on the weekend and the downforce level was open to whatever was decided to be suitable.

First practice is an opportunity to to get familiar with the circuit and the car’s handling. I felt after practice one that we had a little bit of work to do set-up wise but it wasn’t a major issue. I ended up 25th and 1.9 seconds off the quickest car. In practice two I had a few issues with braking and I really didn’t feel comfortable in the car. This was something I had to look into overnight, but I had better knowledge of the lap, and was getting more used to a different technique. I had a similar difference in pace to the front runners after practice two and ended up in the same position.

I felt more confident in the car during first qualifying which meant I could find a lot of pace. I gained a decent chunk of laptime and climbed a few places higher to 23rd, 1.5 seconds off the pole time. It was a close session with 0.2 putting me inside the top 20.

The first race went pretty well after a decent start and clean first corner. I managed to find my way through a few cars until I struck a problem going through the first chicane. I had my pitlane speed limiter coming on, which restricted my speed massively, and while trying to sort the problem out I lost a few places. I kept going and found the problem recurred a couple of times in the next laps before stopping. I had lost a lot of time but I pushed hard to gain it back. I managed to get onto the back of the group ahead and, in the last lap, made a move to the finish line which gained me three places. I finished in 13th, and was the fourth-placed rookie, my best result. The pace was pretty good throughout the race but was plagued by the speed-limiter issue.

Second qualifying went better still but with a few mistakes on my quickest lap stopping me from springing further up the grid. The entire 26-car field was separated by 1.4 seconds which is the closest ever for a grid in World Series by Renault. I was placed 21st but, if I had managed to keep that lap clean, I could have put myself in the top 13. So, a decent effort, but I need to refine my qualifying pace.

The second race started off very well with me making up a few places at the start and again keeping out of the mayhem. However, after two laps, I managed to put a stop to my luck with another driver turning in across me at the first chicane corner. This took off most of my front wing and nose box off but I was OK to carry on. I dropped back a few places due to the poor handling of the car but managed to keep inside the top 18. My bag of luck fully depleted when the car’s hydraulics failed, preventing me from changing gear. I had to reboot the system while braking down from top speed many times before the problem got so bad that I was having to switch off the car several times a lap. This lost me so much time that I decided to pull into the pit to save the tyres for Monaco, as the issue was only getting worse.

So the weekend didn’t quite connect as well as it could have done but, with a 13th place, there was progression over the weekend and I felt I was getting more used to the series in general. Off to Monaco next where I will be in a support race for the F1.

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