After a dry qualifying session and what looked to be quite a nice day, everyone was saying it was going to rain and of course, all of a sudden the clouds started rolling in. During F1 qualifying it started bucketing down. I usually want rain and don't mind it at all but since I hadn't been to the circuit before the weekend, it would be a whole new learning experience for me –and I didn't really want to have that learning experience during the race, especially the race worth the most points!
We rolled to the pre-grid on slicks and of course, as usual this year, the rain started falling! But the rain stopped immediately and looked like it was going to hold off. My engineer was getting the best weather information he could and everyone was saying it would rain during the race. We made the decision, at the latest time we could, to go with wets. It was again a difficult choice, because Abt and Mitch Evans had gone with slicks right in front of me. But, literally as soon as the available time to change tires on the grid ended, it started raining heavily! I then had a massive smile on my face.
Race control made the decision to start behind the safety car and as we rolled off the grid, it started raining harder and harder and the guys on slicks had to pit at the end of lap one – which of course put me in the lead! However, I was quite confused as to why we weren't starting the race because it was raining but that meant we could still race…I thought. It was raining quite hard and a lot of people had to make pit stops for wet tires but that's normal – we should have gone green. Instead, the race was red-flagged and we all had to sit and do nothing for a while on the grid. It was unfortunate because the people who made the right tire choice weren't rewarded as much as they usually would be, because everyone who changed tires was right at the back of the grid now with not much time lost at all.
We finally got rolling again but had to spend what seemed like an eternity behind the safety car. Finally we went green and I had to learn the track in the wet. I went through the first corner and nearly ended up backward into the wall, I had a massive oversteer moment on the exit curb and really didn't expect it. I had lost most of the jump I got on the restart, allowing the car behind me to get quite a good run onto the long straight. He took the outside line and we both braked equally and went into the hairpin side by side. He managed to stay on my outside after the hairpin and continue in to the next fast right-hand corner where the optimum line in the wet would be his line, the outside. I tried everything I could to stay ahead but I couldn't risk it and he got past me. I lost a bit of time and he pulled a bit of a gap, but we didn't have many laps to do anyway because of all the time spent behind the safety car.
As the laps started to wind down my tires started to come up to temperature and I was catching him. I was finding some really good speed every lap and on the last lap I set the fastest lap of the race (until another car outside the top 10 went slightly quicker) and got within half a second of the leader. I was very disappointed because I lost the lead but I had to focus on the fact that I had gained a lot of points on that day and still had another race to score more the next day.