1st August 2012
Two race weekends go by – my first podium in one and my biggest Formula 2 weekend points haul in the other…things are looking up!
FIA Formula 2 Championship
Rounds: 9 & 10
Date: 13-15 July
Location: Brands Hatch, UK
Driver: Dino Zamparelli
Weather conditions: Wet and Dry
I was excited to be racing once again having worked extremely hard between the previous two rounds. I knew if I could raise the sponsorship for the next two back-to-back events in England and then France, then with all of August off, I would have some time to search for more sponsors.
So it was with Botellino’s Restaurants, Vibe Energy Gum, CPS Printing Services, Valentino’s Kitchens, Core and Ore, Perform Well UK and Bespoke Bathrooms that I was going to be racing at Brands Hatch in the UK and Paul Ricard in France. I’ve raced pretty much my entire career in Britain, but surprisingly I had never driven the full GP circuit at Brands Hatch. I’d done the short Indy circuit countless times, but this weekend we were on the GP circuit. Nonetheless…
Qualifying 1: 4th
Race 1: DNF
The race weekend looked set to be mixed in terms of weather conditions and indeed qualifying started out wet, with full treaded tyres the order of the day. I was running high up mid-session but decided to go on slicks towards the end. I rolled the dice (not literally). Everyone except myself and another driver took the gamble mid-session to go on slick tyres. I immediately thought I had made the wrong decision; however, I stuck with it and despite only doing 3 flying laps, managed to post the 4th quickest lap. One more lap and I would have had a clear pole; indeed, the following two sectors after the chequered flag were going to be good enough for pole.
The race didn’t go to plan. Was that made obvious by the DNF bit?! Someone bring me the ‘Racing Driver’s Excuse for a Bad Session Book’! I was battling in 8th position after making a slow start in the wet. We were getting to the mid-point of the race and I was just starting to make an impression on the cars ahead when, whilst attacking the car in front, I went for a move round the outside, hit a bump, locked up and beached my car on the grass. Let’s move on.
Qualifying 2: 4th
Race 2: 3rd!
For the second qualifying on Sunday it was completely dry. I was happy with my P4 as this was a genuine 4th place on the grid with no confusion about which tyres people were going to use etc! I needed a podium out of this to really kick-start my season.
And in race two I got the podium I so needed. I made a good start and jumped into 3rd place behind the leaders. From there I was never able to catch the front two, but I kept my cool and held on to what turned out to be a comfortable 3rd place and my first F2 podium spot. I was ecstatic, as can be seen by that photo.
And so we travelled to France full of confidence and beaming…
FIA Formula 2 Championship
Rounds: 11 & 12
Date: 20-22 July
Location: Paul Ricard, France
Driver: Dino Zamparelli
Weather conditions: Bone Dry!
Once again, Paul Ricard was new territory for me, literally. The track walk on Thursday was something special, such a long and beautiful track.
Qualifying 1: 6th
Race 1: 4th
Qualifying in the first part of the season had been a bit of a nightmare as with bad luck, traffic and everything else under the sun, I haven’t been able to get the best out of it. I qualified 6th for race one only a few tenths off. I wasn’t too happy, but the pace was in there for the race, so I was going to just focus on that.
I made a good start in the sweltering heat of Paul Ricard and jumped into 4th place at the start. I didn’t quite have the speed in the early stages of the race; indeed, I was very much saving my tyres and concentrating on keeping the grip for the end of the race. I lost a position as a result, but two laps later, I overtook another competitor to move back into 4th. From there, I hunted down the leaders with some fast laps and closed right in during the later stages. Unfortunately the podium just escaped my grasp and despite only being 2 seconds off the leader by the end, it was a case of what could have been for race one… what could have been if I hadn’t lost so much ground at the start, or what could have been if I was higher up on the grid.
Still, I was very pleased with the speed in the race and was looking forward to the second race on Sunday.
Qualifying 2: 5th
Race 2: 6th
I didn’t quite get the maximum out of my qualifying lap, but I was to start 5th for race two.
A poor getaway for race two meant I would slip down to 7th on the first lap. I know what the problem was, don’t worry. I spent ¾ of the race trying to overtake for 6th place – not as easy as it sounds. I then spent the last ¼ catching up to the leading pack. I pulled in a 2.5 second gap to the leading group and 5th place (the championship leader) but as I crossed the line 2 tenths behind him, the chequered flag fell. Oh shame. Nonetheless, my race pace was once again excellent and had it not been for a poor start I feel a podium was certainly on the cards. I did however pull in some good points for the championship (my best ever points haul from an F2 weekend) and am now standing in 8th place overall, within touching distance of the top 5.
So there we have the update. Two race weekends go by and now we have a month off. I am going to be working solidly to make sure I can compete in the final two rounds of the championship in Hungary and my other home race at Monza! Now THAT would be something special.
Until the next time.