Having qualified in the top 10, Daniel Ricciardo's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix went backwards, missing out on points after a poor start.
That wasn’t a great race, definitely not one for the scrapbook. We had a good grid spot but couldn’t get the car off the line. Our starts have been a bit hit and miss this year. The last few have been good but today was a miss. We got swamped on the way to Turn One and in the end I went wide to avoid a collision – though JEV and myself may have had some light contact.
After that things didn’t look too clever. The position we’re in at the moment is that the car isn’t fast enough to mount that sort of major recovery. If we start in the top ten and stay there on the first lap, we have the ability to race and defend a good position – but if we’re out of sequence it’s hard. Unfortunately that’s the race we had today.
Coming into the race the nominal strategy was to attempt a one-stopper, albeit with the hedge of pushing on the first stint and seeing how far we could go with the tyres. One consequence of getting away poorly was to come out of the mix behind Esteban Gutiérrez. He was on the prime tyre and as we’ve seen in recent races, the Saubers have really good straight line speed. I couldn’t get past and sitting behind him we weren’t really making good use of the tyres.
At that point I asked if we could go onto Plan B and the next lap I was called into the pits. A two-stopper was the way forward but ultimately it didn’t improve our situation much.
When you’re in that situation the race in front of you looks very long. A poor start tends to play on your mind for a few laps. It’s very frustrating. It doesn’t show up in the driving: it’s not like I start locking brakes or driving like an idiot but it’s there, in the back of your mind. It’s a couple of seconds when the lights go out but you can’t take it back. All you can do is think about contingencies like a safety car and how you might be able to shoehorn-in a viable strategy around something like that. Beyond that you just try to have the best race you can – but it’s definitely not got the same buzz as when you’re hunting down points.
Racing aside, it’s been a good weekend. This is one of my favourite venues. We haven’t really done anything out of the ordinary but it’s nice to sit out on the terrace, enjoy the heat and people-watch. Here that’s mostly people on boats, which is a bit of a novelty. One regret is not getting to any of the live gigs that have been going on over the weekend. Everyone who’s been down to the arena has raved about how good they’ve been but we’ve had too many hours at the track to get away.
Hopefully I’ll get to rectify that in Austin. We’re going out early and I’m planning a proper night out before the grand prix: have some ribs, go see some live music and soak it all up. After that I’m going to nail the weekend. It’d be nice to be going there right now: I’ve got plenty of surplus energy to channel.
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