It was only my second race weekend in F3, and I even finished up as top of the 19 Macau rookies!
I’d done as much preparation as I could with the Carlin team, on the simulator, looking at data, everything I could get my hands on. So I did kind of feel as though I’d already been there, but when you get out on track you’ve got to be taken aback by it straight away. This is an incredibly fast street circuit, and although I’d driven a street track in Pau before this was a completely different animal.
On Thursday, the opening day, I was sixth in the first free practice session and ninth in qualifying. The pace was generally a lot better than I thought it would be compared to how I was taking it, because I was leaving plenty of margin. You have to get as much mileage as you can before second qualifying, and it’s only then that you can risk a crash to get a lap time.
In Friday’s free practice session I was sixth again, before I finished up sixth in the qualifying session, which became my grid position for the qualification race. I was quick on my first set of tyres, but it’s on the second that you lay it on the line. But then there was a batch of red flags, and unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to do that. I didn’t get to show what we could have done.
I was a bit unlucky in the qualification race on Saturday. I had a good start and I was on the inside for Turn 1, which is a flat-out left-hand kink, but that put me on the outside for Turn 2, which is a flat-out right-hand kink… I was looking for a tow but it didn’t work out so everyone on my right was coming past 20kph faster. There was no room to move over, so I had to take it on the outside, and then Maxi Gunther crashed in front of me, so I had to brake in sixth gear and got passed by more people.
That meant I finished 10th, which became my grid position for the final, the Grand Prix itself. I’m not the type to get down for too long, even if the Saturday result was a bit disappointing. And after all, the whole idea of doing the Grand Prix in the first place was I had nothing to lose.
'In the end I got up to sixth, passing Daniel Juncadella – who won the race in 2011 – for seventh and then getting past George Russell for sixth.'
Both of them I made sure I braked later than they did, both times fully locked up at the front! OK, sixth was where I qualified on Friday, but it’s the manner in which I finished sixth that makes it so satisfying.
To come to Macau for just my second F3 race weekend and finish sixth is mega. And it’s nice to be the top rookie. It’s not something I targeted – I was open to the idea of winning it, and this has proved that if I come back next year I can do that.
A massive thank you to Carlin. They’ve had the best cars this weekend and the team has delivered everything I could have wanted. Macau has been just a brilliant experience!
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