Alex Lynn - GP2 Yas Marina review
My rookie GP2 Series season has now ended, and what a shame it ended as it did. I was leading the final race supporting the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, looking in great shape, when there was a red flag because of a big accident on the first lap. It was going to take so long to repair the barriers that it would mean the Grand Prix would run late, which meant our race was abandoned. What a shame. We don’t turn up to win the reversed-grid races on Sunday; we prefer to concentrate on the pole positions and feature-race wins, but victory in that one would have been a lovely way to end the season.
We started the weekend with a bit of a braking issue in free practice, so my confidence in the car at that point wasn’t so high. But in qualifying we did a very good job of turning it around when I needed to. I struggled a bit on the first run, where I was eighth fastest, and it was looking quite sketchy, but I had a last-ditch attack on the second and that got me fourth. When I set the time I was behind only my DAMS team-mate Pierre Gasly. I thought it might be good for second, but then Stoffel Vandoorne improved and it was agonising as Mitch Evans crossed the line and grabbed third off me! It all stemmed from a little bit of a lack of confidence from my braking issue earlier in the day.
The start of the race looked quite routine. The top four of us on the grid were all on the super-soft Pirellis and we all stayed in position in the very early stages. But then the tyres got totally destroyed and it was unbelievably easy for the guys who’d started on mediums to pass us. In five laps we lost 1.2 kilos of rubber – per tyre! It was mainly the fronts that were a drama. Pierre had track position – he’d been leading – over me, so he had the option to pit first out of the DAMS cars. Then, during the following lap, the virtual safety car came out, and that’s pretty typical of my season…
Earlier in the year, when the VSC rules started, you could make your pit stop at this point, but then we had the race in Monaco where some people effectively got a free stop and that really cost me. Quite rightly the rules were changed, so that meant I had to stay out behind the VSC – no free pit stop for me, although the DAMS guys anticipated the end of the VSC superbly and it literally ended just as I entered the pit lane.
We’d known tyre wear was going to be difficult on the super-softs but never anticipated it would be that bad, and now I was on the medium Pirellis it became about getting a result. Eighth place was very much on, and this would get me reversed-grid pole, and that’s exactly the position I finished in. You can say we really saved something and lived to fight another day – it’s just a shame that ‘another day’ never really happened…
I was really confident for that race. On the medium tyre in race one I’d set the third or fourth fastest stint average, so I knew I had the pace to stay in front in the second race.
So I finally ended up sixth in the championship. A lot of people will say that’s not a bad effort for a rookie, but I’m not really satisfied. I won two races, I had two pole positions, and I know the pace I had in myself and the car didn’t translate into good results often enough. That’s what we’ve got to concentrate on now: better consistency.
That will begin on Wednesday and Thursday this week, when I do the first two days of the post-season GP2 test at Yas Marina with DAMS. So we’ll get our heads down and work through things on my last two days of driving a racing car before the end of the year. After that? Christmas pudding!
Alex Lynn – GP2 Bahrain review
I’m writing this from Abu Dhabi, where I’m chilling out for a few days between Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. It’s been a rare chance to draw a bit of breath in what’s been a hectic couple of weeks so far – and of course it’s only going to get even more busy next weekend, at the final round of the GP2 Series.
As for the Bahrain race, looking on the positive side, we did a solid job and we came away with some points: which is more than we managed to do at the last two rounds in Sochi and Monza – even though we were actually a lot stronger in those races.
The biggest issue we encountered was tyre wear: it was soon clear that in Bahrain we were not the strongest in that area. You have to bear in mind that Bahrain is the most extreme track with regards to that, and 99% of the time, we get it right. On this one occasion, we were struggling, and as a team we have to work out why this was the case and take steps to address it. I’m sure it’s something specific linked to the characteristics of the circuit: it’s not a general problem we’ve been having.
We had a good qualifying but just struggled to switch the tyres on during the feature race. Still, we recovered to finish eighth, which gave us pole for the sprint race.
So I was quite optimistic, but although I made a great start, again we had the same issue as the race went on. In the end we finished third, which is at least a podium, but it could have been more. Under the circumstances, it was a solid job and we have to be happy with that.
Now we’re fully focussed on Abu Dhabi next weekend, which is of course the final round of the GP2 Series. Technically we can still finish third in the championship, and fourth is very realistic. So there’s a lot to fight for, in what’s definitely been the most challenging series I’ve competed on so far in my career. It’s night and day harder than GP3, because of all the complex strategy variables that are thrown in as well.
The other thing I did in Bahrain was take part in the World Endurance Championship test with Toyota. Now, I know that the minute you do anything like that it sparks off a lot of speculation and rumour, but the truth is just that I had the opportunity to drive this fantastic car, as a taster, and who in their right mind would turn down a chance like that?
Although it was the first time that I had ever driven a sports car, it actually felt just like a Formula One car, with the power and the downforce. So it’s good that I was able to use some of my F1 experience at the test as well: the whole philosophy of the car seems to be quite similar. Having a roof over my helmet was also a new experience for me, but it felt nice. There’s a bit of a contrast between the size of the car, when you look at it from the outside, and how it feels from the inside: very light, nimble and easy to drive.
I did around 40 laps in total, and although it’s just a test, so you don’t look at the lap times too closely, I managed to set some quick and consistent times during the long run, which I was pleased about. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to drive the car, but for now, there are definitely no plans for me to switch to endurance racing!
Instead, I’m fully focussed on what I’m doing. Just one more big push now for the final race, and then I can look forward to Christmas and some family time.
Alex Lynn – GP2 Bahrain preview
I’m quite excited to be going back to Bahrain for this coming weekend’s penultimate round of the GP2 Series. It’s where we kicked off the 2015 season so, as my engineer at DAMS called it, it’s a bit of an end-of-year exam – we can see what lessons we’ve learned, and come back and try and do well, not only here but the following weekend at the finale in Abu Dhabi.
If we rewind to the first round, I had a chance to win that. My speed was very good but youthful exuberance put paid to a decent result. We’ve done our analysis, and although our approach won’t be too different to earlier in the year we have a bit more maturity to take in.
It’s been a few weeks since the last GP2 race supporting the Russian Grand Prix. During that time I went to the United States Grand Prix in Austin as part of my role with the Williams-Mercedes Formula 1 team. There I was, thinking it would be nice to go and watch some F1 in the Texas sunshine in October, and it turned out wet and miserable, just like the old Formula Renault Winter Series days at Snetterton and Pembrey at the start of my career, so that was a bit hard to take! Honestly, I’d never seen rain like it, and it was very surprising that they even ran the third free practice session and qualifying. But it was a really good experience to spend another weekend with the team and I learned a lot more about the workings of F1.
But for now I’m really excited to get racing again after a few weeks off. I’ve got a gearbox kart I keep at Whilton Mill, so I was out in that last week. It’s always good to keep your fitness up and just keep your eye in – and of course it’s fun too!
I’ve also been spending a lot of time on the simulator at Williams trying to prepare for the end of the year. It seems strange, bearing in mind my career has been mostly European-based up to now, to be getting towards the end of the calendar year and for everything to be starting to gear up again.
It’s gearing up in another way as well. This Bahrain GP2 round supports the World Endurance Championship instead of F1, and this time we’re racing on the Friday and Saturday instead of the Saturday and Sunday. This time on the Sunday the WEC teams are trying some new drivers and I’ve been invited to have a run with Toyota, who won the championship last year! Last Friday I was down at the team’s Cologne base for a seat-fit and a go on the sim, and I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to driving the TS040 HYBRID. To be fair I know a reasonable amount about WEC as Toyota’s driver Alex Wurz is part of my management team – he’s just announced his retirement from driving but don’t jump to conclusions and assume I’m going to take his place. I’m still fully focused on GP2 and any F1 opportunities for next year, but I do take my hat off to all the WEC teams for giving us young guys a chance – I think a lot of them have realised recently how good people at GP2 and similar levels are, and likewise we regard it as a very exciting area of the sport.
But now I have to forget about that until after GP2 finishes on Saturday. The big focus is on the peculiarities of the Bahrain track – it’s not particularly high grip but the circuit layout lends itself to eating rear tyres. It’s really stop-start, with not a lot of fast corners but plenty of turning and traction zones – and that’s what the rears really don’t like. Even so, we showed our speed there earlier in the year so it’s time to kick off the season-ending races on a high.
2017-03 Sebring Review
2017-03 Season Preview
2016-11 GP2 Yas Marina Review
2016-11 GP2 Yas Marina Preview
2016-10 GP2 Sepang Review
2016-09 GP2 Sepang Preview
2016-09 GP2 Monza Review
2016-09 GP2 Monza Preview
2016-08 GP2 Spa Review
2016-08 GP2 Spa Preview
2016-07 GP2 Hockenheim Review
2016-07 GP2 Hockenheim Preview
2016-07 GP2 Hungaroring Review
2016-07 GP2 Hungaroring Preview
2016-07 Silverstone F1 Test
2016-07 Silverstone Review
2016-07 Silverstone Preview
2016-07 Red Bull Ring Review
2016-06 GP2 Baku Review
2016-06 GP2 Baku Preview
2016-05 Monte Carlo Review
2016-05 Monte Carlo Preview
2016-05 F1 Testing
2016-05 Barcelona GP2 Review
2016-05 Barcelona Preview
2016-05 Williams Testing
2016-03 Jerez Testing Report
2016-03 Pre-season Report
2016-02 Williams Announcement
Alex wouldn’t be where he is today without the valuable support of the following companies/sponsors. If you would like to get involved in his racing programme, please visit the partners page.