Thanks for all the support in the Manufacturer series, and congratulations to the podium finishers in both the Manufacturer series and the Nations cup!
My perspective of the Manufacturer series, as some of you may have seen in my practice I was getting more and more consistent at the Redbull Ring in the wet, so I felt ridiculously confident going into practice. I've always said the fastest driver in practice should do the qualifying, we were all quick and doing good laps in the wet. I was the quickest in practice so went out for qualifying! In Qualifying I got a quick lap very quickly, then a 42.0 and 2 laps later I was on for a 41.7!! Unfortunately I ran a little wide after I saw that time as I got all excited haha! A very common thing amongst all of us I imagine, but P4 and made it into the top 6 qualifier.
Top 6 Qualifier: As mentioned in my practice at home and even at the event I was really consistent so I knew that if I got 1 lap in I'd be on, so when I saw a 45.3 I was like ok.... that's good that'll put me up there, half way through the 2nd lap I saw neither Porsche or Mercedes had jumped me so that gave me more confidence and I picked the pace up and decided to risk the last corner to which got me another tenth and a half and BOOM! Although with that weird colour on splits it only showed as blue not purple haha! When I looked up and saw Mercedes, just up on my time I was worried, and then suddenly I saw StorM go to the kerb and I knew, I knew we got pole! One of THE biggest reliefs of emotion ever! Mainly because I know I can be fast, I've always known I can do it (Madrid P3), and finally I showed it. I wasn't crying, but had water coming out my eyes, was a very strange feeling I have to say! Looking at the footage the R8 looks so stable, it's not that stable haha, much better than FR cars though I must admit.
Race 1: So turn 1 cold tyres, bit of an unknown although we had done 1 practice start at the hotel which went well. Unknown to some of you I actually used traction control for turns 1 and 2 on lap 1 before turning it off! I then just went for it, and unlike the practice at home where I was spinning quite a bit in the race, I got into that zone again and just went for it doing purples very late in my stint as well which is why we were just pulling away. Looking back at the race now I maybe should have stayed out 1 lap longer, and we may have jumped the battling at the end. DoubleH got in and did a superb job followed by Demon. You may have heard Tom say "Martin is looking a bit animated" That was actually me saying over the headset to the stewards (If they were listening) he let him past, no penalty, he let him past haha! He did do that as well. Demon calmed down and did some superb defending at the end and we got a win! The first win for team Audi WAHOOOOOOO!
Race 2: While we were having an interview our car was picked and then Demon was immediately rushed over to the rig, so much so we actually initially left the pits on wets but a quick change put the car back onto the right tyres. This race was really weird for us so let me explain something a little before the race about strategy. Pit loss time was 7 seconds, that's it (Without taking tyres) or at least it was at the hotel! I've just watched it back tonight and we lost 12 seconds, so there's 5 seconds that disappeared outta nowhere that I didn't even realise! Anyway if it was the 7 seconds loss that we timed then it is faster than a longer hard stint. I timed this using my watch. Personally I wouldn't have been happy asking any driver to do 1 lap in the race unless they specifically said so, but that's not a shot at any team either. It's the choice of teams and drivers what they do. I do think Mercedes nailed the right strategy mind, long Mediums, short hards, long softs. What I think everyone agrees with is that the hards are pretty useless, they could do with a bit of a grip increase to really change the strategies up more!
Anyway in the race something was really odd with our car, we were way off pace than at the hotel. Demon was in the 17's on mediums at the hotel here in the 19's, I missed Double H's times but I could only just get into the 17's on softs yet I could see low 16's if not 15's on softs at the hotel! Other teams said they were matching at the hotel so it's really odd. Not quite sure what the issue was but that's why it turned into a train at the start and irrespective we were dropping back. So yes our strategy was originally 3 stop but we also made a bit of a mistake during the race as well. The plan actually was to have Double H out longer but we didn't look at fuel properly and Double H left the pits with 4.2 laps and we were planning at least 5 laps so we could change to just the 2 stop if needed. Unfortunately, we couldn't get the fuel up so Double H came in who nearly had saved enough fuel to get the extra lap but I went onto hards and came out behind Peugeot. I knew at this moment there wasn't much I could do as the hards would be way off as well, so stayed with the 3 in hope that it would work out. But no, as I mentioned before 2:17.9 was my limit (I could do that with my eyes closed at the hotel) and they were some good laps to, which is also why we were dropping off the Lexus!
Am I disappointed? Not really, I think Audi showed what we could do there, and personally to finally get that qualifying performance in I was stoked, even the day after I was haha! Speaking of which here's where I know something iffy was going on. Audi R8, Racing hards (Daylight rather than twilight though) but I hit a 2:17.9 in qualifying for the Pro-Am with loads of errors, I could see 2:16's in the car. Now that was without tyre wear and fuel of course. But even with half a tank of fuel and softs I should be able to get easily in the 16's, so when I did that the day after I knew something was iffy. What was it? Who knows? Was our car selected from the menu rather than garage and that was it (Some cars are different)? Was it just a join bug (We know they exist in the retail version)? Who knows. But we'll come back bigger, better and stronger for the next one!!
Thanks for all the Audi support, and for my team mates! Lets see what happens in Tokyo