Alex Lynn – GP2 Sochi review
What can I say? There I was, comfortably leading the GP2 Series feature race at Sochi and looking set for my third win of the season. I’d done all the hard work – qualifying on pole, getting a great start, making a terrific restart, staying in front at the pit stops. Everything was done, and I undid it. I outbraked myself, went off and took a wheel off the car. I’m gutted, absolutely gutted, because I threw it away.
It was an odd weekend. We had the aftermath of a diesel spillage on the track the previous evening to deal with in Friday practice, so the track was constantly improving. Right from the off my DAMS car was consistently up there, and we were getting quicker and quicker. Stoffel Vandoorne was mega-fast, but you never know whether that’s just because he’s got the experience to get everything out of it, because the field always closes up in qualifying.
Then it rained for qualifying, which I wasn’t too disappointed about… I got pole position and it was a mega feeling. I had Stoffel right in front of me on the track and I actually thought he was pulling away from me, but I knew I was on a good lap so I didn’t try and do anything crazy. It ended up being just quicker than him, and that was enough.
My start to the race was definitely my best of the year. It was really clean, and to make matters even better for me Stoffel got a bad one. So that gave me a really nice clean run through Turn 2 – behind me all hell broke loose and there was a red flag, and that was really frustrating because I was so fired up.
There was quite a long delay before the restart, and the daylight was fading, so we only had time for 12 more laps of racing. My restart was good and within three laps I was something like four seconds ahead. At this point, my engineer really wanted to make sure that we pitted early so that there was no risk of any traffic in the pit lane blocking me in when I wanted to rejoin, and that way I could get back out on track and just put in the laps, and retake the lead when the guys in front pitted.
The stop was a little bit slow and I lost a bit of time, so that meant that when Alexander Rossi rejoined a couple of laps later he was in front. But obviously he was on cold tyres, so I thought it should be a routine pass. I went to the outside at Turn 3, made it stick, and put the hammer down while he was on cold tyres.
Then, a few laps later, disaster. Not only did the retirement ruin my first race, but of course it spoiled my chances in the second too, because I was going to have to start from 20th on the grid. Actually, I’m pretty pleased with the progress I made. The field spread out quite quickly so it was just about picking my way through one by one without worrying that everyone was in a huge bunch. I managed to finish 10th, which is about all you can do at Sochi when you start from down there.
Now I’d like to forget about what happened and move on. OK, there are a few weeks before the penultimate round in Bahrain, but I’ve definitely got enough to keep me busy, starting with flying out to the United States Grand Prix at Austin with the Williams-Mercedes team next week. That’s something to look forward to while I work on coming back strong for the last two GP2 rounds.
Alex Lynn – GP2 Sochi preview
Finally! It’s been a long old journey, including a connecting flight, but I’ve just arrived at my hotel in Sochi for the next round of the GP2 Series supporting the Russian Grand Prix. Time to get a bit of rest before I head to the track for Thursday’s track walk and preparation with the DAMS team for the weekend – and time, of course, to put my blog together…
It’s been a few weeks since the last round at Monza, and during that time I celebrated my birthday. Arsenal tickets were a nice present, and it was even nicer that we beat Man United 3-0!
Shortly after that I went to the Singapore Grand Prix with the Williams-Mercedes team. That was the first time I’ve spent a race weekend with the team being able to fully integrate myself, because usually on a Grand Prix weekend I’m so busy with GP2. My mind is always focused on that, so it’s difficult to take in much of what’s going on with the F1 team.
Singapore was absolutely amazing and I came away with a lot more than I thought I was going to. I was able to sit in on all the debriefs and the pre-race meetings. I was even able to get a photographer’s pass to go out and watch on the circuit and report back. It was a proper full race-weekend immersion, and as well as the nuts-and-bolts race-team stuff I was able to get involved with the marketing side and go to the sponsor dinners. It was my first time in Singapore, which is such a great race, and I really enjoyed the experience. I’ll be doing the same at the United States GP at Austin in a few weeks’ time.
After that my focus switched entirely to Sochi. I went there last year on the brink of wrapping up the GP3 Series title so it wasn’t a normal weekend for me really. By that time, it was all about closing out the championship and I went into each session not quite on the ball or giving it the maximum, because the risk of something biting if things went wrong was too great.
My approach is a lot different this year, especially as I learned such a lot about the track in 2014, and I’ve arrived with a really clear mind. A lot of people underestimated the grip level last year, but there was very low tyre degradation. It’s a strange place, and I can’t say I’ve really put it on my list of favourite circuits yet. But that’s probably because last year wasn’t too great for me – I frustratingly ended up just one point short of clinching the title and had to seal it next time out in Abu Dhabi. I definitely have plans to improve my enjoyment of Sochi by doing well there this year!
We should definitely be up there and in the mix. The DAMS guys got it right last year, with Jolyon Palmer winning the feature race, so we’re confident and hopefully we’ll be where we should be. We just need to crack on with fine-tuning over free practice and qualifying and doing the job to the best of our capabilities, and if we can do that we’ll certainly be in there pitching for another win.
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