Alex Lynn

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A NEW WORLD OF F1 AND GP2

As I get this blog together, I’m sitting in Dubai Airport waiting to get on a plane, and I cannot wait to get home!

I’ve been away for two weeks in Abu Dhabi – two weeks that have been right up there as the most eventful and special of my career. First of all I wrapped up the GP3 title last weekend, then on Wednesday afternoon I had my first track test of a Formula One car in a Lotus-Renault, and finally on Friday and Saturday I tested in GP2.

Of course, you’re supposed to go from GP3 to GP2 and then F1 on a conventional career path, but I went GP3-F1-GP2! The odd feeling was when I went to the GP2 car from the F1. Considering the GP2 car is a 700-horsepower beast, I put my foot down and thought, ‘Oh, it’s got no power!’ That was quite a weird feeling.

My first experience of a Formula One test was a very last-minute thing, but it was an opportunity I had to grasp. Esteban Ocon, who is the reigning European Formula 3 champion and a guy who I get on very well with, drove the car in the morning and then I had the afternoon.

We’re both quite tall, so it wasn’t really a problem for the team to switch drivers during the day. Although I’m sure that, as a Lotus F1 Team Junior, Esteban would have preferred to drive the whole day – sorry mate!

The car was amazing; the power was huge. I’d never experienced anything like that in my life even with the DTM and Formula Renault 3.5 cars I’ve tested in the past. I feel very privileged to have felt that speed because I don’t think any other car can possibly come close. That was the first impression, and then you notice the huge downforce – the ability in the braking zones was immense. It was kind of everything you’d expect from a Formula One car – it did everything you wanted it to, which was really nice.

We were quite far away from a qualifying run. We were always on the harder prime tyres, with a relatively high fuel load. You always want to do a show-stopping time, but I said on the day that if I could come away from this with the team saying I’d done a great job and being really impressed, from a career point of view that would be just as important as sitting at the top of the timesheet after running supersoft tyres and 5kg of fuel on a qualifying run. That was my main focus. Right at the end of the day I did a long run when everybody else was on qualifying runs, and hopefully the team think I did a good job and that I impressed them – that’s all I ever wanted.

After a one-day break it was relatively simple getting into the GP2, and my first day was with Carlin, the team I won the GP3 title with. The car was very impressive – even better than I thought it would be, if a little bit lacking in power after the F1! It was quite straightforward making the transition with Carlin. The first day there was a little bit of acclimatisation – I wasn’t particularly fast and I worked through a few things with the team.

The second day was with ART Grand Prix, who ran Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton to the 2005 and 2006 GP2 titles. I felt a lot more comfortable with the car, it started flowing nicely and I was setting some good lap times. In general it was really good, and you have to remember I only did the second and third days of the three-day test, so I was playing catch-up against people not only with full seasons of GP2 experience, but also those who’d already done the first day of the test.

Over the two days I ended up in the top 10 in three of the four sessions, which is pretty decent going, and in the ART car I was only a couple of tenths away from being in the top three – the times were that close! So I can definitely live with that.

But to be honest I genuinely don’t know who was running what programme. There’s one team that was absolutely flying and no one could get within half a second of their fastest car, so it’s hard to say whether they were on super-quick qualifying set-ups. I hope so!

The season isn’t over yet. I’ve got another exciting opportunity coming up soon. But first, it’s going to be great to spend a little bit of time at home!

ALEX NOMINATED FOR AUTOSPORT AWARD

After sealing the GP3 Series title, then testing a Lotus F1 Team car and a GP2 car at Abu Dhabi – all in the space of a week – Alex Lynn has been nominated for a prize at the world-renowned Autosport Awards next month. And it’s easy to vote for him.

Alex has been nominated for the British Competition Driver of the Year award in a season that has witnessed an extraordinary level of British success in motorsport.

As a result, the other contenders for the prestigious accolade include Lewis Hamilton, Jolyon Palmer and Anthony Davidson – all crowned world champions this year – not to mention Jenson Button, another leading figure in Formula One.

Of the many categories that are included in the star-studded event, founded by Autosport magazine, this is the one that will almost certainly be the most closely fought.

“I’ve enjoyed a lot of wins in 2014, but I think this trophy would be the toughest thing of all to win this year!” said Alex. “I’m just so pleased though that there’s been so much British success throughout the year; that’s the main point for me and all the British fans.

“To have Lewis, Jolyon and myself winning the championships on the Formula One calendar, as well as Anthony wrapping up the World Endurance Championship, it really doesn’t get much better for British motorsport. This year has been so competitive in every category, which has definitely made my life harder, but it’s not something I resent at all – strong competition raises everybody’s level. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Whatever the outcome of the Autosport Awards – held at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel on December 7 – Alex will enjoy the opportunity to mix with his racing rivals in what is always a stunning event. He’s no stranger to the Autosport Awards either, having won British Club Driver of the Year in 2011.

For more information about the Autosport Awards, and to vote, visit: www.awards.autosport.com

FIRST F1 TEST FOR LOTUS A SUCCESS!

Alex Lynn followed in the footsteps of newly-crowned British Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton by taking to the track in F1 machinery for the first time today having won the GP3 Series – a stepping-stone to the very top level of the sport – just a few days previously.

Winning the 2013 GP3 championship catapulted Red Bull driver Daniil Kvyat to the top of Formula One just one year later – and now Alex has shown that he has everything it takes to do exactly the same.

The 21-year-old from Essex jumped into a Lotus F1 Team E22 at the final test of the year in Abu Dhabi this afternoon, having had no experience of Formula One previously and only days to prepare. Yet within just four laps he was on the pace, despite the complexity and enormous speed of contemporary Formula One machinery, complete with turbochargers, DRS and a full hybrid system.

“The Lotus F1 Team E22 is an amazing piece of machinery, but I felt comfortable with it almost immediately,” said Alex. “As time went on I felt more and more accustomed to it and we were able to begin to push, while giving some detailed feedback to the engineers. I’ve obviously still got a lot to learn, but I was able to get on top of the car quite quickly.”

Alex alternated longer and shorter runs aboard the Lotus F1 Team car, which finished eighth in the Formula One manufacturers’ championship this year, while sampling a wide variety of engine settings and tyres. Unlike some of the other drivers though, he did not get to try the fastest supersoft tyres, which are worth approximately an extra second per lap.

Nonetheless, he finished the day ninth fastest, ahead of many more experienced drivers who had driven Formula One machinery before. The team asked him to perform a number of systems checks and evaluations on the car, with the main objective of the test being to prepare for the 2015 season.

“Of course, you always feel that you could have done more, but for a first day it’s really not bad at all,” said Lynn, a Red Bull Junior Team member who led this year’s GP3 Series from start to finish. “I’m very grateful to the team for this opportunity and I hope I was able to help them prepare for next season. I’ve got to say that this whole experience has just made me even more hungry for my next taste of Formula One!”

Lotus F1 Team Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane said: “Alex is clearly a fast driver and to be on the pace so quickly in his first test was very impressive. We had a solid day of trouble-free running, enabling us to complete the majority of our evaluations. Alex was rapidly able to deliver what we wanted of him, and we head back with plenty of data to analyse.”

Alex, however, remains in Abu Dhabi where he will test a GP2 car run by ART on Friday and Saturday.

Formula One testing times, day two, Abu Dhabi 2014:

1 Wehrlein, Mercedes, 1m42.624s
2 Marciello, Ferrari, 1m43.208s
3 Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 1m43.763s
4 Ericsson, Sauber, 1m44.551s
5 Stevens, Caterham, 1m44.888s
6 Goddard, Force India, 1m44.944s
7 Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1m45.151s
8 Nasr, Williams, 1m45.937s
9 Lynn, Lotus, 1m46.168s
10 Ocon, Lotus, 1m47.013s
11 Vandoorne, McLaren, no time set

ALEX TO MAKE F1 TEST DEBUT

Newly-crowned GP3 Series champion Alex Lynn is to make his Formula One debut tomorrow (Wednesday 26 November) when he takes the wheel of the current Lotus F1 Team E22 F1 car.

The 21-year-old Englishman will drive the car on the final day of testing this season at Abu Dhabi, the track where he clinched the 2014 GP3 Series title last Friday.

Alex is part of the Red Bull Junior Team, but with all the drives in Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso taken during the two-day official test, he will instead drive for the British-based Lotus F1 Team.

The objective of the test for Alex is to gain experience of Formula One machinery, which he has never driven before. As a result, it’s a brilliant chance for the new GP3 champion to increase his knowledge of motorsport’s top level, having led the GP3 Series from the beginning all the way to the end of the season.

“I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of a Formula One car: it’s obviously what I’ve been working towards throughout my career to date,” said Alex. “I’m very grateful for the chance to drive the car. It just goes to show that winning the GP3 Series opens a few doors!”

The agreement for Alex to drive during the test was only finalised recently, as a result of which he has had little time to prepare so there are no firm objectives. His main aim is simply to complete as many laps as possible in the time available, getting to grips with the feel of a contemporary Formula One car.

“I’m really excited by this opportunity but of course I’m very realistic about it too,” said Alex. “I’m just going to go out there and do my best. Hopefully I’ll be able to increase my experience and pass on some useful feedback to the engineers. I don’t think there are any particular expectations from anybody: I just want to do a solid job and learn as much as I can about Formula One.”

The Lotus F1 Team E22, powered by the latest-generation Renault Sport F1 Energy Power Unit, has been driven by Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado this year, with a best result of eighth in Spain and Monaco.

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