As soon as I was done with post race interviews and matters of that sort, I had to run to the team truck and throw all my smelly driving gear at my mom for her to take home (Mom is fantastic!) and take another set of driving gear to the airport! I was headed straight to England that night and needed to catch a flight out of Tampa. So Dad and I loaded up the rental car and left for the airport right as Marco Andretti ended up on his lid in Turn 1 of the IndyCar race.
I won't go into detail, but I wasn't able to shower after the 87 degree race day in Florida so the airport and overnight flight to England was not the most comfortable experience I've ever had. BUT, I got to England Monday morning after the race in St. Pete on Sunday and was ready to be on track Tuesday! The weather at Silverstone was average at best – of course. It was very cold with the occasional rain shower.
I was really looking forward to getting back in the GP3 car, though. I had to completely swap mind sets from race weekend to important preseason test days. It didn't take me long to get back into GP3 mode but it is so unbelievably different over there; it's astounding each time I get in the car.
It was very difficult to figure out the best way to bring in the new Pirelli tires. They seemed to be graining quite a lot after about five laps and then they couldn't be used anymore. So, after the first full day, we went through every driver's sector times and lap times to see if there was a pattern to how the other drivers warmed up their new tires. Sure enough, it seemed as though the quick guys were doing two to three slow laps with a lot of weaving and braking to try and generate a lot of heat in the tires before making a run at setting a quick lap.
On day two there was a lot of rain but we were able to get a few laps in the dry to test out our new tire-warming strategy. Immediately it seemed to help the tires and get a bit more time out of them. It was very hard to be patient enough to go out on new tires and scrub them really hard for two to three laps before letting loose and trying to get the best out of them.
On the third and final day of testing, it rained again for the full morning session. It was a very encouraging session, though, because we never found ourselves outside the top 5. I was P1 for quite some time and I was really enjoying the conditions.
But, the session started to get really annoying because there was literally a red flag every two laps. Out of the pits, one lap, red flag. Over and over and over again cars just kept spinning and stalling and crashing – it was pretty crazy. By the end of the session, the track started to dry out and, in the last few minutes, it was a mad dash for dry tires. Luckily I got some good laps in and ended up P5.
The full afternoon session was dry and it was quite a challenge. Even with how we were warming up the tires we couldn't seem to set a competitive time. There is still a lot to be learned about this car and I'm trying to get on top of it as quickly as possible. The Carlin guys are doing a great job and we'll work together to try and figure out what we're missing on the dry setup. We've got another three days of testing in Barcelona right after my race in Barber and right before my race in Long Beach so we've still got a good bit of time to get things sorted.
Just to give everyone a preview of what is to come: after the Barber race this weekend, I'm leaving straight after the race to head to Spain, as soon as we're done there I head straight to Long Beach for the Firestone Indy Lights race and then back home to Indy for a short time at the end of April. I need an airline sponsor…