I’m sorry, I really am, but I couldn’t think of a better pun. You’ll just have to keep the facepalming to yourself for now. Moving onto the actual racing, the 5th round of the Formula Renault Eurocup gave my maiden pole and race win of the series, but not before a crash the previous day and some serious facepalming of my own.
Having struggled like crazy to sort out car and engine issues in the first half of the year, the last two rounds have seen the start (hopefully) of a turn around. At the Nurburgring we scored our first podium in the pouring wet, which also turned out to be our first points of the series as well (yes the first half of the year was that bad).
It would be wet for most of the weekend at Hungary as well, and on the Friday, we were quick. Heading into qualifying for the first race on Saturday, a good position was totally within reach, but instead I lost control on a wet patch, and ended my session lodged in the barrier. Having qualified so poorly (my grid position was actually nearly on the last corner before the pit straight) there was little hope for a points finish, and that’s how it turned out, coming home 18th from 27th. Needless to say, I was pretty gutted. Knowing it’s your own mistake that held you back from a result can be hard to take, especially when you’ve had so many other problems holding you back that year.
Sunday brought more wet weather, and this time I didn’t make a mistake, pushing on in the second qualifying session to take my first ever pole position. With the track getting faster and faster as it dried, everyone knew it would be the last few laps that counted in the 15-minute session. I knew I was going well, but on my last lap I was held up by backmarkers, leaving me helpless in the last moments of the session as my rivals all started to go green in their last laps. I radioed in on my in lap, asking where we were. Half a lap later, I got the message, P1. Bit better than Saturday then.
While we knew we were quick in the wet, the race was to be dry, and was a less known quantity, as I had only driven in it very briefly, once. I also knew though that Hungaroring was very difficult to overtake at, so I just needed to hold my ground. After getting a good start, I bolted away, trying furiously to build a lead whilst my competitors squabbled behind me. I only managed a small gap before it was cut down by a safety car halfway through. The restart was good as well, but my rivals began to approach me with new aggression, no longer fighting one another. With 10 minutes to go, they were right there. I pushed hard, holding out that 1 second gap, just out of their reach. One or two lock-ups appeared, a small mistake here or there. I was pushing hard in conditions I didn’t know well enough. With the gap down to 6 tenths, we entered the final lap. No mistakes Jack, let’s go. Through the twisty middle sector, I pulled out a smidge more, and I thought enough to end the race. He was too far back. But it wasn’t over, as he locked up desperate to make up ground in the final two turns, coming painfully close, but not close enough. I drove of the last corner, weaved, punched the air, held her on the limiter as I flew past my team, making that beautiful BRRRRRRRR as the revs bounced in 5th. Winner winner, chicken dinner.
After all that I was able to take in the pole as well, how different Saturday was to Sunday. As they say, you’re only as good as your last race, and this weekend threw from one end to the other. As for the title of this blog, I guess I am Hungary for more, after all, there are two rounds left to make puns for…