Dino Zamparelli's GP3 diary - Hungary
Round five of the GP3 year wasn't one to dwell on for our columnist - but he's plotting a brighter end to the season when action resumes from Spa at the end of the month
By Dino Zamparelli. Last Updated: 02/08/13 2:33pm
I had raced at Hungary previously in the 2012 FIA Formula 2 Championship and I took an instant liking to the circuit. It is fast at certain points on the track, and has a great mixture of different corners. The atmosphere at the circuit is always electric and there are lots of Hungarian fans.
I walked through security at the airport and came out to be greeted by a load of Hungarian motorsport fans wanting my autograph and asking for my photo. I was feeling good in my Marussia top and my sunglasses on - like a proper racing celebrity. And then they all started asking me how the F1 car felt to drive...and then one of them called me Jules. Hmmm??!!! I'm only joking! That didn't happen, although I have been mistaken for Jules once!
They were there to pick up the autographs and get a snap of any driver they could find coming through the airport. I was informed that most other GP3 drivers got the same treatment, which is good to see!
There's something extra special about racing in Budapest. The city is stunning, with ancient architecture and beautiful buildings all around. The people are (mostly) all friendly and the food is good. This all adds up to how a driver rates the weekend. It's not just how the race track is, although that is mostly it; having a nice place to stay and being in a beautiful city, you can't help but feel good.
Wednesday and Thursday quickly came and went. Typically, Wednesday and Thursday go incredibly slowly for me during the race weekends. But for some reason, maybe it was down to the heat; both days went by fairly quickly this time. Friday's F1 Free Practice is always good to watch for us young drivers, as it gets us into the mode of being on the limit and gives us an indication as to how hard the F1 boys are pushing straight away.
Finally we were able to get out on track for the GP3 Friday Free Practice. Temperatures were still really hot even during the evening. It was a good opportunity to try the tyres out in such heats and see how they reacted. Typically we would use a new set of Pirelli tyres during Free Practice, but we decided to save the new set of tyres for qualifying in the morning. Therefore, I was never going to be challenging at the top in practice, but to be 12th despite not putting new tyres on, was very encouraging.
Qualifying has been my complete downfall so far this season. I've qualified 12th, eighth, 16th and 16th for the opening four rounds of the championship so far. In short, I should not be starting so far back - but for various reasons, I haven't been able to hit qualifying on the head. We all know that in single seaters, once you qualify, do the start and the first lap, you'll pretty much end where you are after lap one. So starting so far back has cost me dear.
And so the situation unfortunately didn't change for Hungary, as yet again I qualified 16th on the grid. In nearly all the races, I've moved forward as 16th is not a true reflection on my pace. My race pace and my starts have been good - I went from 16th to tenth and 16th to ninth in at both Silverstone and the Nurburgring respectively.
I was hoping to go one better and get eighth after a bad qualy, but unfortunately it wasn't to be. Hungary is one of the hardest tracks to try and overtake on. And although I eventually ended up 12th, overtaking was very limited. Once again, I was very happy with my start and my actual race pace, but was still rather annoyed at not being able to show my true potential.
Race two on Sunday morning fared no better unfortunately. Starting 12th, I hoped for a decent getaway and to collect some points. However, with my fellow F2 rival Alex Fontana spinning himself out right in front of me out of turn one, I had to take avoidance action. This cost me a few places at the start. I then persisted to try and overtake one of the Bamboo cars for countless laps, but could not find a way past whilst in 15th. And eventually, the day went from bad to worse when I had a water temperature issue, which meant that I had to pull out of the race so as to not risk damaging the engine.
I hate to say it, but that is racing unfortunately. It's a hard pill to swallow; putting so much hard work and effort into my racing and things are not going the way I want to at the moment. But I will keep working. I will keep trying to understand where it is we're going wrong in qualifying and try and rectify that as quickly as we can.
There's two ways I could look at it: sit around and feel sorry for myself and hope it gets better. Or I could get back up on the horse (or race car in this instance) and keep pushing, keep learning, keep improving and keep understanding. I will be going for the latter.
Someone once said; "What defines us is how well we rise after a fall"... Things will come right for me, and when they do, they will be ever sweeter!
Follow Dino on Twitter: @DinoZamparelli