The last time I wrote here was actually halfway through last year, and, fortunately for me, much has changed in that time. Don’t worry, I’ll give you the quick story.
After struggling initially, Koiranen GP and I fired into action over the summer break, winning races at 3 consecutive rounds and never finishing outside of the points except for the last race, but more on that later. This brought us all the way from a 72-point deficit in 9th place, to just 7 points behind the joint leaders (I told you Junior formulae were close) in 3rd with one round left to play.
Before we jump into the finale, there was the small matter of fracturing my back in a crash at Monza in an ALPS race, which as I’m sure you’ll agree was sub-optimal for my season hopes. The crash itself was unspectacular, which is just annoying; if you’re going to fracture your back, you want the crash to be huge and spectacular, with Jason Statham doing a badass voice-over as Bruce Willis blows up a helicopter in the background, so at least you can show it to your friends and get a million views on YouTube, because isn’t that what life is all about?
But I digress, the upshot was missing an ALPS race and a sore month or so, luckily I would return in time for action in the Eurocup at Silverstone, my home race, and what a race it was, winning on my first weekend back! I might’ve got a bit excited and started punching the air all the way through Woodcote onto the pit straight, but as someone said, what is life without passion eh?
So onto the season finale, at Jerez. To add to the intrigue it was a triple header, and technically 8 drivers still in with a shout of the title. We were in good form, and grabbed pole, only for the skies to darken and bring a sizeable storm. After watching the safety car aquaplane off on the formation lap (no I’m serious), we set off. 8 laps later, I was winner by 15 seconds, with a fastest lap almost 2 seconds quicker than anyone else in the 25 car field. I had a good time. Now equal first in the championship, but up on race wins, we headed into the spray once more for Race 2, and despite 2nd place wearing a shiny new set of wets, we won again. 13 points up in the championship with 1 to go.
Sunday rolls around, and in a treacherous quali, I aquaplane into the gravel, following one of the championship contenders and being joined by 3 other cars! The company didn’t make me feel any better though, and to make matters worse on the formation lap, the car cuts out, and I’m forced to start from the pitlane after a quick fix. Despite all this, I got going, and rose up to 16th from last and some, but in the end my championship was safe; the others couldn’t finish high enough to overhaul those 17 points. First British champion of the Eurocup for over 20 years!
I’m sure you’re crying tears of joy for me right now, but you’re also probably still wondering about the title. Well, thanks partly to my feats last year, I am now associated to a Formula 1 team, Renault F1, as a Renault Sport Academy driver. I’m joined by only 3 others, and it’s been made quite clear to us what’s expected. Success.
To have one of the biggest manufacturers in the world (not to mention one that has a pretty decent record sheet in F1) behind you is a huge motivation, and will really help in GP3 this year. The dream of F1 is even closer now, I was at the launch in Paris, surrounded by it. But the harsh reality is I’m still a long way from that point, still a small fish in a pond filled with sharks.
But it’s actually given me a bit of a kick, to know that if I win, if I perform and succeed as they ask, that seat isn’t so much a dream, but a real possibility. So earlier this week I was in Enstone getting my ass kicked by the fitness guys, and I was loving it.
Anything to take a selfie on the podium at Monza… #ourgeneration #sorrynotsorry