Alex Lynn – GP2 Jerez test
We’ve just finished the last of our two three-day pre-season tests in preparation for the GP2 Series. After the first one at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, we were a fair bit further south in Spain at Jerez this time. Although I’ve never raced at Jerez, I know the track pretty well – I tested a Formula 3 car here, drove a DTM car for BMW and we had a GP3 pre-season test here a couple of years ago, so I was well up to speed on the circuit.
Since the Barcelona test, my preparation with the DAMS team for this had been fairly intense. The team had been working tirelessly and we turned up at Jerez with a pretty long list of things to work on. And over the three days we achieved everything we set out to do, which was really good.
Most of the quick times came on the second and third mornings of the test, where people were going for qualifying-type runs. I’m really happy with how those went but it’s that age-old thing really: testing times don’t really mean that much and I’m a firm believer in the old racing adage that, on the first race weekend, when the flag drops the bullshit stops. We can see that everyone was very fast, which is what you expect because after three days of testing everyone gets down to a good pace. But we know we’re in the fight, which is a good thing.
The afternoons were mainly about race runs, and you’ll see that overall laptime-wise my pace was pretty slow on the final day, but that’s a reflection of the programme we were on. On the first two afternoons it was different, and on each I was only just pipped to being the fastest, but again the times don’t mean that much. We actually took a different view to a lot of the others, and ran a set of option tyres, which in this case were the mediums, on the first afternoon. We just wanted to see our pace on a long run on those tyres and see how it went, and I’m very happy with it. I might end up with egg on my face, but I think we’re in a much stronger position than this time last year in terms of not only qualifying and race pace, but me as a driver and the team in general.
We’re looking strong and I’m confident, and we’re going into the first round at Barcelona in good shape. The only thing is, that’s over a month away. A whole six weeks without driving the car! It is frustrating in a way, because I just want to race, but I’ll be so busy with training, and going out to keep my hand in on my go-kart, that it’ll soon fly by. There’s a lot more to being a racing driver than just racing!
Now I’ve just finished dinner and it’s time to turn in and try to shake off this annoying bug I’ve got. It feels like a chest infection. It was OK up until the last day, which was honestly the hardest I’ve ever done in a racing car. It’s worse when you’re testing, because you’re doing long runs, out in the car on your own for an hour, barreling around, whereas race weekends are much more intense. Lucky I’ve got it now rather than in six weeks’ time!
Alex Lynn – GP2 Barcelona test
Three months out of the car is a long time, but I’ve just finished the first pre-season test for the 2016 GP2 Series at Barcelona. It was three days straight of driving, and now I feel as though I haven’t spent any time away from the car at all.
I’ve stayed with the DAMS team for a second season. It gives me continuity and I know they’re a great team so we can challenge for the title. The test went very, very well I have to say – I’m so happy with how the three days went. We were extremely busy. The team did a lot of work over the winter and changed quite a lot of things – the car has had a massive makeover to get quite a few things tinkered with.
What I’m really pleased about is how hard the team have worked. It’s clear that there was a lot of domination from ART Grand Prix last year, and they won the title quite easily with Stoffel Vandoorne. Credit to them – they did a great job. But what I really like is that we’ve all looked in the mirror and said we obviously need to raise our game, not just on the car but on the driving side. That’s the only way you can improve, by having a proper look in the mirror.
I’m impressed with how the whole team have responded to last year, and that shows with the laps we did – the whole test was very well constructed. Hopefully this is the start of a very well-executed season.
Barcelona is where I took my first GP2 win last year, and I won there in GP3 as well, so I’m pretty much at home on the track. The highest position I had in any of the sessions at this test was third, on the first morning, when I was just a tenth off the pace, but the lap times in testing only tell a fraction of the story – there’s no prizes given out for being fastest in testing!
You don’t get a huge amount of tyres for the three days, so everyone did a baseline run on the first morning. Then the rain came for the afternoon, and that made the last two days very busy because now we had quite a few tyres to get though.
On the second day we just did race runs. You might have seen I was 24th out of 24 in the morning and my new team-mate Nicholas Latifi was 23rd, but we weren’t going for times at all – it was 90 per cent dedicated to long runs. Taking the day as a whole, it went very well. You never know, but I’m confident we’ve made progress on something that was sometimes our weak point last year.
On the third day pretty much everyone did qualifying simulations. I was fourth fastest, but I certainly wasn’t driving balls to the wall so I was quite pleased we were that fast – anyway, qualifying is something DAMS have never struggled with.
That’s it now until the next three-day test at Jerez in a couple of weeks’ time, but I’m also really happy to be back with the Williams Martini Racing team in Formula 1 as a development driver. It’s great for me, and I’m looking forward to doing a good job for them again this season.
The pre-season preparations for my second year in GP2 have been going really well. I’ve been training flat-out since the start of January because I’ve learnt in my career that as I’ve become busier and busier, my year needs to start earlier and earlier. I wanted to get myself in physically the best shape I’ve ever been in, and I’m comfortable to say I am in that position already. The GP2 car is very physical for the upper body and the neck and that’s what I really wanted to make sure I was in top shape for.
The first test is in Barcelona in the second week of March, with a second test in Jerez at the end of the month. We only get six days of testing in GP2 so it’s not a huge amount of time to get ourselves ready, but we do feel ready at DAMS. We’ve been working a lot on putting the race weekend together. It’s no secret that tyre degradation was probably our weak point last year. On a positive note we were the top team in qualifying, so now we just need to work on improving the race pace.
I think being prepared with the team will make a big difference this year. As a rookie it was very difficult to understand how I needed to put my race weekend together, when to push, when to be conservative, and these are all lessons that you learn the hard way, so I’m really looking forward to putting that into practice.
I’ve stayed with DAMS because I felt that during last season we became stronger and stronger, and I think what you find when you work with a foreign team is it takes time for these relationships to gel. Even if you take Stoffel Vandoorne as an example, in 2014 when he was with ART you wouldn’t have said they were the strongest team, but he stayed with the same engineer at the same team and he went on to dominate last year.
There have been a few changes over the winter but I’m sticking with my same race engineer. We struck a really good working relationship and I think it’s sometimes difficult to portray to the outside world just how important that is. At the end of the day racing drivers are all humans so it’s important that you strike a good relationship with an engineer and he almost becomes your physiologist in a way, because he’s really controlling your emotions at the most critical times.
I’m very happy to be continuing with Williams this year but GP2 is going to be my main focus – there’s no doubt that’s where I need to deliver. I’m enjoying that this year is all about one thing, though. If I can deliver what I’m capable of and the team delivers what we’re capable of, then I’m confident that the end result will take care of itself.
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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
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