Jolyon Palmer's GP2 Diary - Belgium
Sky's GP2 columnist has his say on being hit by his team-mate, drivers complaining about their team and DRS in Formula 1.
By Jolyon Palmer - @JolyonPalmer. Last Updated: 28/08/13 5:16pm
After a few weeks off we returned to action at Spa, one of the best and fastest tracks on the calendar.
Spa is a big favourite amongst the drivers because it is challenging for a variety of reasons. The track is the longest on the calendar and has a huge amount of undulation. There's always a lot of talk about Eau Rouge every time we come to Spa but the corner really is seriously impressive.
Even though it is relatively comfortably flat for us in low fuel quali trim it takes a couple of laps to build up to it in practice, especially when the track is a bit damp as it was for us. In the race though it is a much bigger challenge as with a high fuel load and sometimes tucked in behind another car it is not easy flat but is crucial for lap time and overtaking.
In the Sunday race we were a little bit out with the balance and every time I pushed hard through Eau Rouge I was having some huge moments and it's definitely not the place you want to shunt - ask Daniel De Jong!
My weekend was looking fairly good, I had qualified a solid seventh, was up to fifth early on in the Feature race and was pressing on looking to find a way past Alexander Rossi ahead. After the safety car restart, however, I was taken out at La Source by my team mate Felipe Nasr as he went for a late lunge up the inside from a long way back.
This sent him out of the race on the spot and dropped me to the back of the field with some damage. Unfortunately it's not the first time I've been hit by him in races this year - he also drove into the back of me in an aggressive move at Barcelona.
Ultimately it cost me a lot of points this weekend, but also hurt him in his hunt for the title. It also cost Carlin a lot of points in the bid to be teams' champions. We are team-mates though and we have to work together for the rest of the season. He apologized to me and the team afterwards and I'm confident it won't happen again. We can put it behind us and focus on Monza now.
In the races we had an interesting situation whereby most of the front guys used a prime-prime strategy in the feature race. This is the fastest way to do the race but it meant that only James Calado and Julian Leal started the sprint race on Sunday with new prime tyres and the rest of the top ten all only had used tyres.
This meant that the race was pretty much only between those two and everyone else who started at the front was just trying to hang on from the people starting on the edge or outside of the top ten, including myself, who could come through with new tyres having saved a set the day before.
Jolyon Palmer fought through from 15th to sixth in the Sprint Race
I had a good race, coming through to finish 6th from 15th on the grid. Unfortunately a couple of guys on used tyres had managed to build too big a gap in the first half of the race whilst I was stuck in traffic but I was happy to come away from the weekend with some points.
I watched the races back and as usual there was plenty of action. One thing that has surprised me a bit this season, is that Calado and Daniel Abt seem often quite critical of their team, ART. ART is the most successful team ever in GP2 and has got many drivers through to F1 such as Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Nico Hulkenberg, Jules Bianchi and Esteban Gutierrez.
Last year they were very close to taking the teams title and only DAMS could narrowly pip them. This year the rules haven't changed. There are slightly revised tyres from Pirelli but that is the only difference. I find it hard to believe a team like ART has really missed something; they have no doubt had a very disappointing year though.
Again at Spa, despite getting a well-deserved 2013 race win, it was strange to hear on the team radio that instead of being very happy with the result and being pumped up by the win, Calado was moaning about how difficult the race was and how bad the car was. Anyway his win made the title race extremely interesting though with three rounds to go and any of the top five or six could still take the title. For me I have to accept it's not going to happen but I will push hard and try and take another win or two before the season ends.
I stayed to watch some of the F1 on Sunday but left halfway through to beat the traffic back to Calais. I don't think I missed much in the race though, most of the passes were done on the straight using DRS, instead of through exciting GP2 style race craft, and I don't find that at all entertaining to watch.
DRS on tracks like Spa isn't good for racing and it sums it up when Hamilton let Fernando Alonso pass him on purpose at La Source just so he could have DRS up the hill out of Eau Rouge. On some tracks DRS can be helpful but I think with Pirelli tyres you don't always need DRS to improve the racing. I would much rather see fewer overtakes but more wheel-to-wheel scrapping and drivers having to work harder to overtake.
Anyway after a long delay at the Channel Tunnel I managed to get back on Sunday night and overall was upbeat with my weekend. Monza is up next which has always been one of my best tracks so I'm looking forward to getting going again in two weeks' time.
Follow Jolyon on Twitter: @JolyonPalmer