Fuel saving in ELMS at Barcelona
After a long time out of the car, I was looking forward to meeting my new team mates and working with the JMW crew again in the ELMS.
There were 2 days of official testing to kick off the week and get settled back into the car, as well as the Barcelona circuit, which I hadn’t visited since 2016. The weather was slightly cooler than you’d expect from Spain, but you can’t have everything! We weren’t where we wanted to be with the car at the outset, but by the end of the 2 days, we knew which direction we needed to work in and felt good heading into the race weekend on longer runs, but not so sure about over one lap.
In qualifying, most of our competitors used 2 sets of tyres, but we only used 1. The soft tyre was only good for 1 timed lap before dropping away, meaning I only had 1 shot, so no room or error! After the first runs, I was P4, dropping to P6 as the others improved with their second go.
For the race, Rodrigo Sales started the car and immediately made up places, but dropped a couple in the shaking out of a safety car mid way around the first lap. After a good stint, he found himself being held up by the number 77 Porsche, so elected to stop early to try for an “undercut”. The strategy worked well and Rodrigo was making good progress but was forced into a spin by an LMP2 car which resulted in time lost. In spite of this he made up a lot of time and handed over to Andrea Fontana in fourth place. Andrea was running well in fifth place when he had a coming together with the no 93 Porsche, which although not a lot of time was lost, resulted in damage to the front right of the car and some aero loss. Towards the end of his stint Andrea got a puncture, meaning we had to pit 2 laps earlier than originally planned, to hand over to me. I would therefore have to stretch the fuel to make it to the end to avoid a “splash and dash” at the very end. I spent several laps fending off Laser in the Porsche and he was then overtaken by Sernagiotto’s Ferrari, who I fended off successfully over the last half an hour fuel saving all the time. I made it to three corners from the end on the last lap when the fuel ran out and I coasted slowly across the line, losing two hard fought places in the process. At least the car made it to the flag, so was classified but P7 was scant reward for a good job by everyone in the team.
It felt extremely good to be back with JMW and in the Ferrari. All the ingredients for a strong showing are there, so with a bit more luck hopefully we can do just that at the Red Bull Ring next month!