Jolyon Palmer's Diary - Malaysia
Sky Sports' new GP2 columnist brings you the driver's perspective
By Jolyon Palmer. Last Updated: September 17, 2013 1:19pm
I returned to action after a long winter off, along with the rest of the GP2 field, in Malaysia. Coming into the weekend we had had only six days of testing since November, three of which were wet, so there was a great feeling of unknown in the paddock.
As a driver you try to prepare as best you can, but in reality there is only so much you can do before the season starts. Like most drivers I have been concentrating a lot on fitness over the winter and there isn't a harder test of this than in Malaysia with temperatures above 30 degrees and very high humidity. It is therefore crucial to maintain concentration and not get fatigued through long races - and fortunately my training paid off.
I have changed teams over the winter from iSport to Carlin, where I will race alongside Felipe Nasr. There are only 13 team members allowed in a GP2 team at race weekends, but everyone is really hungry for success and Felipe has been good to work with. It is important in GP2 to have a competitive team mate who can give good feedback on the car due to the lack of track time at race weekends. I must also say it is sad not to see iSport on the grid after a very enjoyable and fairly successful campaign last year, but it is good to see a lot of the guys have stayed in GP2 with RUSSIAN TIME and it was good to catch up with them during the weekend.
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Malaysia, despite its heat and humidity, is a great place to come to start our season. There is a very relaxed atmosphere as most drivers arrive on the Monday or Tuesday morning, giving a lot of time to acclimatise to the eight hours time difference and weather conditions. This means there is not such a rushed feel to the weekend as with everyone arriving early, there is plenty of time to do all the preparations. I spent Tuesday chilling by the pool, spent some time in the gym and in the evening had a catch up with my team mate from last year, Marcus Ericsson. It was nice to go into Kuala Lumpur for a bit and actually see the place, as quite often on a race weekend all you really see is a hotel, a racetrack and an airport!
It seems somewhat ironic that whilst having an interview with Simon Arron on Thursday, when asked what my best race has been I told him that I was most satisfied with some of my comeback drives last year, such as in Bahrain (25th to 7th). After this weekend I can add another couple to the list as I managed to come from 22nd to 6th in the Feature Race and from the pitlane to 9th, agonisingly just outside the points, in the Sprint Race. Whilst these races are some of the most enjoyable I have had, it was frustrating not to score the points my pace deserved. I had a problem in qualifying which meant that I started race one from the back, but it was my mistake through stalling at the start of race two that meant I had to start from the pitlane.
Cecotto forces Bird off track
One of the major talking points of the weekend was Johnny Cecotto's move on Sam Bird in qualifying. I can understand his frustration at being blocked on his qualifying lap as the tyres have such a narrow performance window and to lose a lap through being blocked can cost you dearly, however his reaction afterwards was completely unacceptable. I have had my fair share of experiencing Cecotto's temperament last year and it seems he hasn't calmed down over the winter. To drive someone deliberately off the road is outrageous and I think in the end his penalty was right.
I also think we should all spare a thought for Jake Rosenzweig. I heard that before the weekend had started he was assaulted by monkeys whilst riding a moped along the roads to his hotel. Although this caused him considerable pain and discomfort, the story did raise a smile to many faces in the GP2 paddock!
Now we have four weeks until we are racing again in Bahrain. In that time I plan to stay relaxed, catching up with friends and family. I will no doubt be around race tracks still though as I will be turning driver coach for my younger brother, Will, who races in Ginetta Juniors. It is nice to be at the tracks sometimes, just enjoying the racing and without any pressure.
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