It was a tough event for the whole DAMS team, and we just couldn’t seem to get the pace we wanted on the Hungaroring circuit.
In free practice I was seventh fastest, and only quarter of a second off the quickest time. It did look as though the drivers in the ART team had an advantage if you added their best sector times together, but we were happy enough and relatively upbeat.
We made a few changes for qualifying on Saturday morning and the track conditions must have changed as well, because suddenly everything went completely out of the window. I was 18th quickest, and that was a smack in the face. We were six tenths slower than we’d been in practice, and I was 1.3 seconds away from Nyck de Vries’s pole time. There was a red flag while I was on a preparation lap, which wasn’t ideal, and that possibly cost me three or four tenths on tyre life, but realistically that still left us a second off.
We’ve struggled this year on the tracks that have been resurfaced – Red Bull Ring and Hungaroring – whereas at Barcelona and Silverstone the nature of the tracks does a lot of work in switching the tyres on for you. That’s something our engineers need to work on quickly in order to find a solution.
'I stalled at the start of race one, but by the time I got round to Turn 5 I'd got back the positions I'd lost.'
Then, going into the Turn 6/7 chicane, from what I understand Tatiana Calderon got hit and she must have knocked her hand onto the pit speed limiter. Everyone concertinaed up and Steijn Schothorst rear-ended me and lifted the back end of my car quite high, pushing me into Tatiana. It wasn’t his fault, but the team thought I must have broken my wing. I came into the pits for a new one, but it turned out it wasn’t broken.
After that I was driving round by myself. I actually gained seven seconds on the winner Matt Parry over the rest of the race. The car felt good but you never know how much Matt was managing the race, and de Vries – who’d also stalled at the start – was pulling away from me by two or three tenths a lap, so were still losing time and that’s another thing we’ve got to look into.
That put me 23rd and last on the grid for Sunday’s race, and I made a couple of places up at the start, but after that it was impossible to overtake and I finished 19th. Even after the early safety car, at the back of the train we were pushing three corners before the finish line but couldn’t attack the car in front because of the dirty air. Honestly, I can’t hide the fact that the race was really boring! We were on the medium-compound Pirellis and there was no degradation to liven it up – we just pushed hard on every lap.
It’s off to Hockenheim for next weekend’s round. I raced there in Formula Renault in 2014 and it’s got an old, rough surface so I’d hope it’s like Barcelona and Silverstone for us. And we’ll be on the soft tyres in probably hot temperatures so that should be good for racing.
I’ve dropped from 3rd in the points after Austria to 9th but there are five race weekends to go and you can be sure that I will give it everything to fight back up the table!