High-speed Monza brings answers at last for Daniel

Monsoon-style rain and a greasy track added to Monza’s famous low-downforce profile to make the racing particularly challenging during F2’s final meeting of the 2012 season.

For Daniel, it was a chance to experience one of motorsport’s most iconic circuits in a variety of conditions – including, eventually, the dry – and also to finally solve a mystery that had dogged his season since his wet-weather adventures in Spa last June.

The stresses that Monza’s unique set-up place on a car finally provided the evidence to prove an impact as the race in Belgium was red flagged had caused lasting damage to his Williams-designed JPH1B.

The long-standing problem, which had cost Daniel time over several races, was fixed during the weekend – but otherwise poor weather and a spin in Race One caused by contact from an over-enthusiastic rival made for a subdued finish to the season.

Daniel said: “It was a difficult weekend for more than one reason. Following the Spa crash, it took high-speed Monza to reveal that there was trouble with the intercooler.

“A small army descended on the car and found it was damaged. We were fighting to find out in testing what the problem was. We found it for the Saturday and tried to push on and get a good weekend out of it.

“However, changeable conditions for qualifying meant it was always going to be a last lap sprint –you put your time in and as other people go round your time drops until you go round again. Unfortunately I managed to get the flag first so everyone else had a lap more to put in a better time.”

Having qualified 10th, Daniel got off to a good start on the wet and slippery circuit, making up five places on the first corner.

But, as he pushed on, an outside overtaking move from Chinese driver David Zhu sent both cars into a spin which left Daniel at the rear of the field and facing a long recovery. He was eventually classified 11th, saying: “The spin cost me 15 seconds and I just had to fight back but the outcome was fairly inevitable.”

Sunday’s weather was initially almost identical to Saturday’s but, with qualifying taking place on a drying circuit, Daniel was able to find competitive times during the new tyre run: “I found a bit of space and I got that lap in. I saved my boost for the last lap.

“Unfortunately as the last lap came around, at the first corner another car backed off in the braking zone, which forced me to back off, which cost me the best part of a second.

“The potential was there for the front two rows but circumstances stopped me from doing it.”

Having qualified ninth, a decent start was compromised over the course of the race by tyre issues that left Daniel struggling to maintain his position, and he eventually finished in 10th place.

He concluded: “It wasn’t the finest final race but, at least, after the earlier part of the weekend I managed to race in the dry at Monza.

“The race set-up was not nearly as good as the qualifying potential. The high-speed circuit stressed the tyres and we just couldn’t keep them under control.”

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