Dino Zamparelli's GP3 Diary - Germany
Our GP3 columnist looks back on his adventures in Germany and a seemingly never ending battle with Conor Daly.
By Dino Zamparelli. Last Updated: 17/09/13 1:32pm
I really enjoyed the German GP3 race weekend. I had raced on the Nurburgring circuit before in 2012 in the Formula 2 series, so I had a good understanding of the track. Driving up to the track on Thursday and going past the world renowned Nordschleife, gives you that extra bit of excitement.
Instead of flying over to Germany, team DZ decided to drive over in a more than comfortable enough 97 Saab (living the dream). It's a fairly long trip, about eight hours in total it took us. But it was actually quite good fun and it was a nice journey across. I had the laptop on my lap and watched all 6 of the Star Wars films - by the end of the journey I quite literally thought I was a Jedi.
Driving in your own car also saves a lot of hassle with flights and so on! We actually got overtaken on the way by fellow Sky Sports F1 columnist and GP2 racer Jolyon Palmer...although he didn't see us. He was travelling fairly quickly actually, I guess he was still fuming from the events that took place in Silverstone for him.
We arrived on Wednesday evening and pretty much went straight to sleep. We still had 48 hours to wait until our GP3 practice session got underway! Thursday and Friday morning were taken up with much the same routine, which was as follows:
3) Track walk
5) Go through some data
8) Go through some more data
9) Make a plan for the weekend
10) Sleep some more
As you can see, the Thursday and Friday are really hectic, so there isn't much time for anything actually.
But finally, Friday Practice at 6pm arrived and we were all relieved to finally be getting out on track. Practice went well for me, I ended up third quickest and was feeling confident with my Marussia Manor GP3 car and was happy with the balance.
Qualifying was early on Saturday - so after a good sleep and a very early German breakfast, I was out on track and once again feeling good and confident. I set a good time on my first set of tyres, and was gunning for pole on my second set of new tyres.
I went a bit earlier on my final set of tyres to get a clear lap and everything was looking good; the car was good, I was driving well until... I came across the slow moving vehicle of Conor Daly who had a problem at the quickest corner on the circuit. That was where my bid for pole came to an abrupt end!
I had to back off as Daly's car was incredibly slow and it was dangerous for me to not slow down. I tried to go again for another lap but the tyres had passed their best and it was indeed that lap that I backed off that ended up being my quickest lap. I was going to start the first race in P16.
It was such a shame because all that work I did on Friday with my team, all the preparation and all of the promise shown was undone for something that was out of my control.
I couldn't count on there being a slow moving car on the line that I was taking for the quickest corner on the circuit. It cost me the chance of pole - of that I was sure. Even more sickening when looked on the data after the session and saw that I was matching my team mate right up until that point on the lap - and my team mate started second on the grid. Oh well ay?!!!!!!
I was determined to make up for it in the race. I got a great start for the first race on Saturday - I went from 16th to tenth on the opening couple of laps. Ironically, Daly started in around 12th I believe, and after the first lap he was just behind me in 11th. Throughout the whole race, I was battling hard with Daly with some close, hard but fair racing. I kept him behind and finished in ninth place. I was happy to collect some more points and recover from an unlucky qualifying place, but could only be frustrated as my team-mate came through in second place and I once again missed out on that all important eighth place and the reversed grid pole.
For Race Two, I made another good start and forced my way into sixth place by the end of the first lap. I was struggling with the balance of my car for the opening laps in this race and after a small error that let my team-mate through, I was in seventh place for the entirety of the race and defending hard against, once again quite ironically, from Mr Daly. I crossed the line in seventh and with some more points.
Overall it was a positive weekend for me - a job well done and a weekend that was salvaged. However, the weekend's overriding emotion can only be 'what if' I didn't have my lap ruined in qualifying. What could I have done had I been able to show my true potential in qualifying.
I feel on top of the car, I'm working well with the team and I feel I am getting the most out of my starts and my races. Now the only thing left is for me to show all of that from the sharp end of the grid.
Hungary is in three weeks time. This will give me a chance to take a bit of time off after a back-to-back couple of rounds. I will then be preparing and gearing up for the always exciting Hungarian GP.
Hopefully the 'force will be with me' in qualifying next time out...
Follow Dino on Twitter: @DinoZamparelli