So Snetterton, round 5 of the QUAIFE MINI Challenge JCW series just happened, and as you know from my pre-race weekend report, was a weekend of anticipated podium finishes. However, this anticipation quickly faded as the weekend unfolded and was replaced with disappointment and dissatisfaction caused by a plethora of mechanical complications the team encountered with my race car, ultimately hindering my ability to perform.
Without getting into too much detail on the negatives of my weekend, to summarise Snetterton; we had very little running in Friday practice due to a fueling issue in FP1 and a tyre-related problem in FP2. We then qualified in 11th, didn't finish race one due to a drivetrain failure, didn't finish race two due to an engine overheating issue, and didn't start race three due to damage caused to the engine by it overheating.
The short story, Snetterton, has to be one of my most challenging weekends yet in a JCW, especially when mechanical failures, which on the weekend were out of my immediate control, were the primary cause of my hindrances.
Despite the above, and considering the very minimal running I had in Friday's testing, an 11th place qualifying position was a solid and positive result. Due to the high ambient temperatures on qualifying day, I knew my lap had to be set very early in the session before the temperatures of both my tyres and engine rocketed, which I knew would restrict my ability to achieve a quick lap.
With the above in mind, I set my qualifying lap on lap 4, my second flying lap. I have to say, I was very impressed with myself, as really, I hadn't driven the track in 14 months, so to bolt new tyres onto the car and dial myself into the circuit in 3 laps and set a solid, front running time on just lap four, highlights how much I have progressed as a driver in the past three years.
Over the past three years, taking the step up to professional motor racing has forced me to have to learn and learn quickly. One of the biggest things I have realised is when something is either the fault of the driver, i.e. myself or when something is the fault of an external factor, which for the purpose of this example, could be an oversteering car caused by being on an older, used tyre.
From the above example, as a driver, it is crucial to understand and be able to distinguish setup issues from tyre-related issues when on older rubber. For example, suppose I am on older tyres, and I have an oversteering problem; in that case, providing the car's setup is about where it usually is, I need to be able to understand this is a tyre problem and not a setup or driver problem. When I then switch to new tyres, for qualifying, for example, I already know that all my before issues in testing will simply vanish, which always gives me the confidence to push the car to the limit.
The above is relevant because, as a professional racing driver, I have built a robust belief system in my ability, and when I know something doesn't feel right, I can always distinguish the cause of the issue and therefore rectify it to prevent it from happening again in the future.
Not only have I developed and grown in confidence as a driver behind the wheel, but I have also become far more confident in believing and trusting in myself and in my decision-making from both a political and engineering perspective, which is a vital asset to have to ensure I continue to excel in this sport.
Motorsport is very much a team sport, whereby car preparation and engineering is a crucial part that has to work in conjunction with the driver. As a result, an official press release will be published on Wednesday (31/08/22) announcing some very exciting and positive developments for team Gravett Racing.