When you look at Fernando’s 2019 schedule of switching between F1 and the WEC pretty much every week (whether for races or testing), the obvious issue seems to be the challenge of simply being so damn busy all the time. But Fernando has admitted that he’s finding it difficult to adapt his driving every time he gets in the Toyota TS050.
“I struggle a little bit more when I go from Formula 1 to the WEC car, just because the driving styles are so different. I think when I come back here [in F1] I don’t need any adaptation. I’m straight away comfortable with everything. It’s what I learned and my driving style developed for Formula 1 driving, so I expect no problem on the comeback.”
Well, given that he has over 20 years of single-seater experience and just a few months in endurance racing, perhaps that’s no surprise. He went on to talk about how racing in LMP1 is a much more unpredictable environment which requires a different mental approach:
“I think I am closer to the limit in an F1 car. You need to maximise, you need to make perfection every lap and repeat that perfection over and over the laps. That’s Formula 1’s style.
“In WEC, you have to be super-flexible, and super-open-minded on everything. You will not repeat the same lap in six hours. You will find traffic in different places, you will have different conditions, you will have different tyres age, you will have everything. So, that flexibility in terms of driving, I think it’s quite good for me.”
Despite the busy schedule and inexperience, Fernando still managed to take victory in his first WEC race at Spa a couple of weeks ago. OK, so there was a bit of luck in terms of the other Toyota having a difficult weekend and late-race team orders freezing the positions, but it was a great story, and looking at the stats it seems like he’s already getting the hang of things.
At Spa, his ultimate fastest race lap compared to the other five Toyota drivers was actually slower than everyone except for Jose Maria Lopez. However, Fernando’s lap times were the most consistent, which arguably a more important trait in endurance racing than one-lap pace. None of this, of course, is at all surprising!