12 April 2013
Lotus F1 Team third driver Davide Valsecchi looks back over the opening two races in the 2013 F1 season in his latest Crash.net column...
In Davide Valsecchi's second exclusive column on Crash.net, the Lotus F1 Team third driver and 2012 GP2 Series champion looks back at the opening two rounds of the 2013 season - with Kimi Raikkonen already on top of the podium and Romain Grosjean also enjoying a solid start to the new campaign...
I'm speaking to you from the paddock in Shanghai ahead of the third round of the F1 season, and it's been a good start to the year for us at Lotus.
Things have been positive so far and after the opening two races, we are already in a strong position in the championship standings. This weekend we have the Chinese Grand Prix and then a week afterwards we go to Bahrain, and it looks like both could be good races for us. There is a lot of confidence that we'll be able to deliver a strong result in both races, and we need to wait and see if we can get the results that we deserve.
The season started for us in difficult conditions in Australia where qualifying for the first race had to be delayed until race day because of the rain. I've encountered those kind of conditions myself while racing in GP2 and there were times when it got so bad that the organisers and the FIA would step in and end the session. Spa in particular is a circuit where it could happen quite often.
From a drivers point of view, it can be quite enjoyable to drive in the wet when you are alone on the circuit, but when you have a field of cars together, there is always the chance of an incident happening and for that reason, it was the correct decision to put qualifying off until the following day.
When it does rain heavily, visibility if the first big issue when you are following another car but there is also the issue of aquaplaning. When visibility is low, you can't always see the standing water on the circuit and may not be prepared for it. You could suddenly find yourself spinning on a straight with other cars passing by you, and in those conditions, it is better to stop for the safety of everyone involved.
The race was obviously a fantastic one for the team, but if I'm being honest, there was a lot of excitement inside the garage all through the Melbourne weekend. Going into the event, there were a lot of questions, as we didn't know how competitive we would be and didn't know how the car would perform compared to our rivals.
Not long after the race started, we realised that it could turn out to be a great one for us. The team made a good call on the strategy and we were lucky that we had a driver like Kimi who could make the most of that strategy to take the victory.
It was a great result for the team as they had worked hard over winter testing to produce a quick car, although we also had some reliability problems during the off-season. By the first race, the team delivered a car that was quick, that was reliable and that allowed us to get the victory – and which also allowed us to challenge for points in Malaysia.
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