In Davide Valsecchi's latest exclusive column on Crash.net, the Lotus F1 Team third driver and 2012 GP2 Series Champion reflects on an action packed few weeks, which in addition to his usual duties at the British and German Grands Prix, also saw him at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and at the Silverstone Young Driver Test...
It has been a busy time of late, but very enjoyable. We had the back-to-back races in Britain and Germany and then it was Goodwood and this week we have been back at Silverstone for the three-day Young Driver Test. It was great, however, having those two grands prix within a week of each other. There were lots of things to do and at both races there were lots of people and fans and at the end, most importantly, we reached a good result. The German Grand Prix was very encouraging for Lotus F1 Team and the double podium was a big boost.
We were a bit disappointed after Silverstone because maybe
we missed out a bit with what we did with the strategy with Kimi Raikkonen. He finished fifth, but could possibly have been on the rostrum. It is extremely complicated though to get the strategy spot on. Sometimes you take a risk and it is the wrong one and sometimes you take a risk and it is the right call. You need a bit of luck. We were not perfect at the British GP. Then at the Nurburgring we had another risky call, when 11 laps from the end, we stopped Kimi. He was leading at that point and we pitted him for another set of tyres. That seemed like the wrong strategy initially but at the end of the race he got second and was really putting the pressure on eventual winner Sebastian [Vettel] – who knows what might have happened had the race just been one or two laps longer...
Getting two cars on the podium at the Nurburbring was very heartening - it was a fabulous result. The team put in a big effort - everyone was happy it all paid off. It was nice to drink the champagne there, especially as we were not very lucky in the previous events. At the Nurburgring we seemed to solve our problems and we had back the luck and took home lots of points. Here's hoping for more of the same in the future.
Of course most of talk in Britain and Germany revolved around the tyres. The British Grand Prix was a bit of a disaster for Pirelli with all the failures. But they recovered extremely well in three or four days for Germany and the situation was perfect there. I have to admit that sometimes the tyres are a bit strange. But Pirelli were able to react and really turn it around and, as I said, we got a good result as a team at the Nurburgring. At the moment it seems like Pirelli have now solved those problems and we are pleased with what they are doing.
I got the chance to try out the latest tyres from Pirelli on Thursday at Silverstone during the test there and my feelings were positive. We will need to wait for the judgement from Kimi and Romain Grosjean to be sure, but to me they seemed really good. I hope we don't have any problems now in the future - fingers crossed.
Overall the Silverstone test was brilliant for me. I was a bit worried beforehand. I am obviously not racing this season and it is hard to maintain the fitness levels when you are not out on track regularly – there is no substitute really for racing. I had no problems however, and was strong throughout the day. We did two or three long race distance simulations – 91 laps in total - and for me it was perfect.
At the end we had a little problem with the radio and I did a few more laps than I was meant to, but it wasn't a big deal.
I enjoyed the time in the car and we got all the bits done that we had planned to do. It was a 'real' job to test at Silverstone and Lotus is a top team and they always want - quite rightly - 100 per cent from their drivers. I hope I was good enough and that the engineers and mechanics were happy with what I did.
It was my second time in action in the space of less than a week too as I was also driving at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. There though, while we were working, it was obviously not so serious.