In the final race of what has been a difficult season, I decided on a four stop strategy, instead of a three stopper advised by my technical director. I made the first stint slightly shorter, and this allowed me to fit soft tires. Those soft tires brought me my best qualifying effort to-date, just 0.127s off pole, and my first start on the front row.
By lap 4 I was caught by eventual race winner, Ryan (Kozhi Racing), and he made his way past both my drivers by lap 6. I held on though, eventually being passed on lap 8 by Campbell (Insecticons GP) as I strugged with soft tires past their prime.
I pitted from 4th and 6th on lap 10, switching to the hard tires for the remainder of the race, and dropping below 20th-place until the pit stop cycle had completed… I was 17th and 18th on lap 11, 11th and 14th on lap 12, then 7th and 10th by lap 13.
I set a fastest lap (at the time) on lap 19, and had risen up to 5th place. However, it wasn’t to last, and I pitted for the second time on lap 21, dropping to 15th-place. I regained a top-10 by lap 25, moving to 9th a lap later.
On lap 32 I was running 8th and 9th, and felt very good about my season ending with a bang. I had good pace compared to those around me, and everything seemed fine. So I pushed on, and pitted on lap 34, rejoining down in 12th.
My next pit stop came on lap 41, coming in from a solid 7th and 8th. I was nervous at the time about being passed while the hard tires warmed up, so I opted to switch to softs for my final stint. This was a big mistake, as I rejoined the track in 12th and 13th, then progressively lost time to those around me. Most crushing of all, I fell too far behind those people who mattered, and outside the points. I crossed the line to finish the race in 13th and 15th places.
The real kicker here is that I’m the one who screwed it up, again. Watching the video back, looking at the laptimes I did on hard tires, my switch to softs was stupid and cost me either some points, or some positions. To have rounded out the season that way isn’t really satisfying, because although last week I would have been delighted to have finished in 13th, it doesn’t feel good enough this week…
|Fin||Pts||Driver / Team||Sta||Pole||Win||DNF|
|1||234||R Papakonstantinou / DAM Racing||17||1||3||0|
|2||211||E Menarguez / Team Spamsac F1GP||15||2||4||1|
|3||200||G Papaioannou / DAM Racing – Fired||14||2||2||0|
|29||0||C Osman / Wheatley F1||4||0||0||0|
|30||0||J Ule / Wheatley F1||4||0||0||0|
|35||0||M Ryan / Wheatley F1 – Fired||13||0||0||0|
|36||0||I Kristensen / Wheatley F1 – Fired||13||0||0||0|
This season was pointless (pun intended). To have scored points in one of my first events (last season), then to feel like I have gone backwards compared to those around me really puts into perspective the challenge teams like HRT, Marussia and Caterham face trying to make it in the sport.
Of course when I screw a race up, it’s just a race on a game, but I felt a little glimpse of intense disappointment today when that 10th-place, and single point, slipped away from me. I really didn’t want to end the season with no points, especially when I feel I have done a good job behind the scenes building the team. I feel like my current staff are fairly good, my new drivers seem good, the only real chink in the armor right now, apart from the lack of KERS, seems to be my stupid decisions…
Season 4 begins just after Christmas, so I have some time to regroup, rearm, and go forwards. I won’t have KERS by the first race of the season though, I’m currently hoping to have it by race three. Until then? I’ll just have to do my best, while those who have it zoom past me regularly… Grrr…