Alex Lynn – GP2 Monte Carlo review
A fourth place and a fifth in Monaco… It wasn’t the kind of thing dreams are made of, but look – it’s 19 points on a track like Monte Carlo, which is always a bit of a lottery. A lot of my main rivals faltered and we picked up good points, so I’m happy.
Right from the start in free practice my DAMS car felt very, very good. The car was very strong, just like last year, and straight away my driving was much better. Last season was my first time in Monaco, and on my second lap of free practice on Thursday I went quicker than any lap I did there last year! I was feeling really confident.
As I said in my preview blog, I was in the tougher qualifying group. Not only that, but we ran first, and with the GP2 rubber down from our group it was always going to benefit those who ran later, so pole position wasn’t really in our grasp. The car felt fantastic, and I ended up third behind Norman Nato and Mitch Evans – just the wrong side of a tenth of a second. With the groups alternating in the grid, that meant I started sixth, which was not what we deserved bearing in mind how much pace we had. When you’re talking about such small amounts of time, it’s frustrating.
I lost a place at the start to Antonio Giovinazzi, who got up the inside at the first corner. I saw him there but I knew he wasn’t really in our race because he was going to pit very soon. When he did, that put me back up to sixth and I very quickly caught up Evans and Oliver Rowland. I set what was comfortably the fastest lap at that point – I wanted to bridge the gap quickly and get a feel for the car.
Ollie was stuck behind Mitch and I was stuck behind Ollie, so it was a case of cruising around, waiting for the pit stops, but then all hell broke loose. Sergey Sirotkin put it in the wall, Jordan King hit the barriers, and at one point I had a puncture from debris. That could have just been a loss of performance from the virtual safety cars though – VSCs aren’t good for tyres or brakes; they hate it! My car was pulling a bit on the straight. It was all getting a bit mad but we were around the pit-stop time, so I just came in, not wanting to risk anything, and it was good to get through that part of the race unscathed.
Evans had been given a five-second penalty in the pits for cutting the chicane, so when I rejoined I was effectively third behind Nato and Rowland. Artem Markelov was in the lead, but he hadn’t stopped so we knew a podium was extremely likely. My engineer said, ‘P3, 11 laps to go, bring it home’, and we thought we’d just bank the podium.
But then there was another period of VSCs, and Markelov was able to get in and out of the pits and keep the lead. That seemed a bit odd – it was immensely frustrating not to be on the podium and a lot of questions have been asked about that. Still, fourth from sixth on the grid was a good result, especially as a lot of my championship rivals faltered.
That put me fifth on the grid for the reversed-grid race on Saturday. I so nearly got fourth into the first corner – I was up the inside of Evans, but I needed Raffaele Marciello, who was in third, to brake a couple of metres later. As it was Lello braked early and Evans hung on around the outside. That was slightly frustrating, but it is what it is.
From then on I tried to go for fastest lap, and I got it at one stage, but I think the track had changed slightly after F1 qualifying. I just didn’t have the car underneath me and we struggled with rear-tyre degradation. By the end I had Nato right behind me, but I never felt under threat. I always thought I could hold him off.
The good thing is I’ve ended the weekend just eight points off the championship lead. I know from before, when I’ve won championships in other series, that these weekends are extremely important. A fourth and a fifth might sound boring, but it’s vital to pick up those points. You win when you can, and when you can’t you pick up the maximum possible. We dodged a lot of curveballs, didn’t make mistakes which a lot of our rivals did, and banked 19 points.
Alex Lynn – GP2 Monte Carlo preview
Everything’s to play for in the GP2 Series this season after the opening round at Barcelona. I won the sprint race in Spain, so that was a boost, and now we’re heading to the glamour event on the calendar: Monaco.
Actually, I’m already there. I’m staying with Myles Mordaunt, who manages me along with Alexander Wurz and who lives in Monaco, and I’ve been really looking forward to coming back, especially after my first taste of the streets of Monte Carlo last year. We’re looking for a really strong weekend.
Last year was very difficult and it wasn’t what the DAMS team and I had been dreaming of before we arrived. We were unlucky with a missed communication in wet qualifying and that really hampered the whole event. But last week, when we did all our research back at the DAMS base at Le Mans, we saw that on pace it wasn’t the horror show that the results suggested. So I’m taking a lot of confidence there this weekend and there’s no reason why we can’t do well.
Anyway, before last year street circuits had always been a happy hunting ground for me, having won at the Macau Grand Prix and the Norisring in Formula 3, and done well at Pau in my rookie F3 season. Having said that, results on street circuits don’t come easy and I know that more than any other person. It takes a lot of hard work and commitment to be quick.
Monaco is where we use the super-soft Pirellis for qualifying. I was really looking forward to this last year because it’s a mega feeling to get the ultimate lap out of massively grippy tyres that you know aren’t going to last very long, and then I felt a bit cheated when it rained! We’ve all seen the Senna laps at Monaco over the years. Everything he said about driving on the limit in Monaco… as a racing driver you go to bed dreaming of a lap like that! If I get anywhere near that I’ll be happy.
Because of the nature of the track, we get split into two groups for qualifying and one group lines up 1-3-5 and so on, and the other group 2-4-6. Now, I don’t want to say I’ve got the hardest group but… I’ve got the hardest group! But the aim is to be in front of everybody anyway, and in that case it doesn’t make any difference, so at the end of the day you can’t let that worry you.
Obviously it’s really hard to overtake in Monaco, so sometimes you need strategy or just plain old luck to get you up the order, but you can’t rely on that. It’s the same on all street circuits, and we’ve just got to put ourselves at the front with strong pace, and then I can drive my own race. After qualifying on Thursday we’ll have a strong idea of where we are – and there’s no reason why that can’t be right up there.
Alex Lynn – Barcelona Formula 1 test
Every ambitious racing driver wants to get a go in a modern Formula 1 car, and I’m lucky enough to have enjoyed a day testing with Williams Martini Racing at Barcelona on the Tuesday of the two-day test.
It was less than 48 hours after taking my first GP2 Series win of the season on the same track that I pulled out of the garage in the Williams-Mercedes FW38, and as soon as I did that there was a whole lot of media speculation – so that was very cool! I can’t tell anyone exactly what Williams were doing, because obviously that’s all top-secret stuff, but everyone could see that there was some pretty radical development going on, most visually on the wings.
I knew in advance what the team were going to try – unfortunately the test wasn’t all about proving how quick Alex Lynn is and that I should get an F1 race seat immediately! But on the other hand it makes me really proud that the team gave me such a big responsibility and it demonstrates the confidence they’ve got in me. That was nice from my side, and on Wednesday Felipe Massa is carrying on with the work, so hopefully at the end of the test they can sign it off as a job done.
I did 86 laps altogether, which is a fair amount of testing – it’s 20 laps more than the Spanish Grand Prix race distance. I think the team got everything out of it that they wanted to, so that’s good. As far as how my performance was, I get asked that all the time, with people saying, ‘How do you reckon you did?’ But you never really know, do you? Everyone down the pit lane is trying different things and there’s no comparison. As long as the people who matter, and the people in the garage, think I did a good job, it’s not important what the lap times were like. They’re the people I have to prove myself to, and I’m happy with the feedback I got from them at the end of the day. So yeah, I think I did a good job.
As far as driving it was concerned, last year when I did the same test it felt really strange, but this time around it seemed particularly normal. Right from the first lap I was really comfortable to jump in and drive it. It fitted me like a glove!
So that was great, but now it’s all about focusing on the next GP2 round supporting the Monaco Grand Prix. I’ve just travelled straight from Barcelona to the DAMS team base in Le Mans, so I’d better sign off now as I’m just about to head in for a debrief on the Barcelona GP2 weekend. After that we’ll start preparing for Monaco, so there’s a lot to do!
Alex Lynn – GP2 Barcelona review
You can never complain when you start a racing season with a win. So it’s great to have won the Barcelona GP2 Series sprint race supporting the Spanish Grand Prix, especially as things didn’t go our way in the feature race.
My DAMS car felt really together right from free practice on Friday. I was really happy, and the car felt exactly as we’d left it in pre-season testing. It meant I was in second place, just a tenth off Pierre Gasly, but to be honest I knew there was more time in the car at that particular point.
But then in qualifying it was a little bit of a disappointment. The weather was very strange – it had started to rain a little bit and that sent everyone into panic mode, including myself, because everyone had to push straight away in case the track got wet. Also, the car set-up didn’t translate from the prime tyres to the option tyres, which is unusual for DAMS. Maybe we got some calculations wrong, but it was a scrappy session, with the car feeling nervous in high-speed corners. That was a surprise considering how it had felt in free practice, so with all that in mind to finish up third on the grid was not too bad.
I made quite a good start, but I think to be honest my reaction wasn’t the sharpest because I was concentrating so much on getting a clean launch. Sergey Sirotkin passed me and so did my team-mate Nicholas Latifi, although I got Nick straight back on the exit of Turn 3.
We had a very early virtual safety car, which was followed by a full safety car, and then after the race went green as soon as the pit window opened we pitted to get off the softer option tyres and onto the primes. We lost about five seconds in the pit stop, but once I got back on the track things were going OK – I was running in clean air, my pace was strong and I was a lot faster than the other guys who were on the same strategy.
I think I saved my tyres really well, but I was short of luck because there was another safety car with 15 laps to go, so that those who’d started on the prime tyres basically got their pit stop for free. At that point I was really hoping for a podium and I definitely think that was on, but instead I finished sixth. Actually I passed Sergio Canamasas for fifth but the marshal showed the chequered flag a lap early, so I lost that position on countback.
So it wasn’t the dream first race of the season I’d planned in my head for a few months, but we got some points on the board – although it did now put the pressure on me for the sprint race, which I was starting from third on the grid.
I passed Jordan King for second around the outside of Turn 3 on the first lap, which was nice, and then I just went flat out to push Raffaele Marciello, who was leading. As soon as the DRS window opened I overtook him straight away – I wanted to get the move done early so I could run my own pace.
Pierre then got up to second and the remaining 20 laps was a case of playing cat-and-mouse between us. Every time he closed, I’d pull away. I saved my tyres well, and it was the complete mirror image of the race I had with Stoffel Vandoorne at Barcelona last year, which I also won. There was a late safety car, but I knew I had the tyres left if I needed them, especially as my last lap before the safety car was my fastest of the last 10 laps.
So I’m happy to get off the line with a strong weekend, and it’s a good way to start the season. It’s especially great as we’ve got the Monaco GP support coming up next, but before that I’ve got a real treat: a test with the Williams-Mercedes Formula 1 team at Barcelona on Tuesday. I haven’t driven the F1 car for 12 months so I really can’t wait for that – it’s going to be awesome!
Race 1: 6th (started on soft tyres, finished on prime)
Race 2: 1st
Alex Lynn – GP2 Barcelona preview
It’s been long enough… We’re finally getting set for the start of the GP2 Series season, supporting the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona this weekend. All the talking’s over now, and along with the DAMS team – who I’m staying with for a second season – we’re honestly as ready as we can be. We’ve been working really hard in the off season, we’ve had the three official tests, and now it’s just about trying to do the job correctly.
Barcelona is a happy hunting ground for me. I won there on my debut GP3 weekend in 2014, and last year I took my first GP2 win there in the sprint race. Because of that I’m really looking forward to it. Not only because I seem to click with the track, but because it’s a really nice Grand Prix weekend – it’s the first European Grand Prix of the season so there’s always a nice atmosphere, so I’m especially excited that we’re kickstarting our GP2 campaign there this year.
It’s a track that’s notoriously hard on tyres, with a never-ending run of long medium and high-speed corners. We think we’re looking OK on tyre performance, but you can never tell from winter testing, which always gives you strange results. At Jerez, which is a killer for tyres, we were among those who did long runs and we were actually going quicker at the end of our run as the fuel burned off. All we could say was, ‘Yeah, that’s not realistic.’
We all know that for all the winter testing results, when the lights go out for the first race of the season it’s never the same. But we’re as prepared as we can be to know what the situation’s going to be.
I’ve got a new team-mate this year – Nicholas Latifi. As a guy he’s really easy to get on with. He’s less experienced at this level than I am and that means things are probably more in my favour because all eyes will be on me to deliver the team performance. It was a bit tricky last year with Pierre Gasly, because he was very quick and the team always tried to make things very equal on strategy. Pierre and I had some really hard fights on the track, but we were always really close away from it – we just left behind whatever had happened on the track.
It’s nice to know that a lot of people are tipping me among the championship favourites. But that doesn’t put any more pressure on me than I put on myself, to be honest. I know what I’m capable of and what I should be able to do. I haven’t really thought about my competitors during the build-up; I believe that if we perform as we should and we don’t make any mistakes as a team we’ll be hard to beat. There are a lot of fast drivers, but we’re just focusing on ourselves and doing the best job we can.
Not that I can think about it yet, but I’ve also got something else to look forward to: on Tuesday I’ll be driving in the Formula 1 test for the Williams-Mercedes team. I’ve been out of a racing car for so long and now all this is coming up so quickly! I’m really looking forward to that too, especially as I know we’ve got an interesting test schedule. I’ve been doing quite a lot of work on their simulator in my role as development driver, but there’s nothing like the real thing… But first and foremost, it’s GP2 that my sights are on this weekend.
I want to bang in some great results to kick my season off well, not only for me but for my sponsors – Terra Firma, House Network, YCo, Alpinestars, Arai and Eye Respect. I’m really grateful for their support and hope to deliver some good results for them this weekend.
2017-04 Nurburgring 24 Hours Quallification
2017-04 WEC Silverstone Review
2017-04 WEC Silverstone Preview
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
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