Jolyon Palmer's GP2 Diary - Belgium
Spa proved an ultimately difficult weekend for the title leader
By Jolyon Palmer
Last Updated: 29/08/14 12:18pm
It was great to be back racing again after the summer break, especially at a classic track like Spa.
There’s always a great atmosphere at Spa with the historic track, challenging corners, changeable weather and great crowd. It was nice to see so many Brits making the trip down as well and the weekend showed why it is really a special place.
There were talking points in almost every session. Firstly on Friday the huge GP3 crash for Konstantin Tereschenko. It looked like he lost the rear on a bump under braking and it was going to be a high-speed spin, maybe into the barriers. But unfortunately for him, he went directly into the sausage kerb, designed to stop drivers cutting the corners at the chicanes, which sent him high into the air and into a nasty roll, ending with him in flames against the barrier on the outside.
I’m surprised it is actually the first accident like this we’ve seen to be honest because sausage kerbs are a common feature of modern tracks and it’s fairly easy to lose the rear under braking and spin like Tereschenko did, especially for someone without a lot of experience of the GP3 car. He was very lucky, firstly not to land square down on all four wheels, because I’m sure that would have broken his back, sitting basically on the floor of the car. Secondly, he was lucky to end up the right way up when his car caught alight against the barriers. Although the marshals do a good job in getting to the scene quickly, I can’t imagine it’s a nice feeling to be stuck in a burning car upside down! Thirdly it was lucky that the other car ahead didn’t turn in and take his line.
I think such was Tereschenko’s speed and height, he actually would have gone over the top of him but it showed how mistakes by one person can risk the safety of others. If he’d have hit the car in front in the wrong place, at the wrong height then I’m sure we would have witnessed a very serious injury. I suspect Charlie Whiting might be having a look at the installation of sausage kerbs to minimise the chances of them acting as a launch ramp in the future.
Our weekend in GP2 was affected heavily by the weather. It seems ironic that in the summer break Will Buxton challenged the entire GP2 field to do the ice bucket challenge. In our first race back we basically completed it! After one lap of racing, the heavens opened and it rained unbelievably hard. Normally in the car you don’t feel it but as I was driving around under safety car I could actually feel myself getting soaked in the car. The race had to be red flagged but still it was a challenge to get back to the grid. Even in first gear I was aquaplaning all over the place and struggling to keep the car on track. The race afterwards was a struggle for me, lacking a bit of grip in the wet conditions. I kept my head calm and picked up what I could, which was in fact my worst feature race result of the year so far, sixth.
The sprint race was dry but again we didn’t have the best of set ups with too much tyre degradation and it wasn’t an easy race. I finished third but in both races I was happy to see the chequered flag; one more lap in either would have been a big struggle!
The Grand Prix obviously had one major talking point: the incident between Hamilton and Rosberg. In my opinion it is a racing incident and little touches like this happen all the time. After all, Hamilton touched his front wing against people in Hockenheim a couple of races ago. The difference in this instance is that contact wasn’t at all necessary. The beauty of trying to pass at Les Combes is that if you get squeezed wide you can cut the corner and rejoin and try and pass again further round the lap. It seems pretty clear Rosberg was at fault for the incident, as Hamilton did nothing wrong and was just holding his line. The clip from Rosberg isn’t a bad one, but it is the manner in which it happened and the consequences that have the big effect. Ultimately the touch could have been fine for Hamilton and damaged Rosberg’s front wing but it didn’t and I can understand Hamilton’s frustration and lack of trust in Rosberg now.
Still, you can give Rosberg the benefit of the doubt for the moment, but I think after the Monaco qualifying incident as well, he needs to be squeaky clean from now on in this regard not to risk having this season’s championship tainted by accusations of unethical driving. One thing is for sure, it really adds drama and spice to the F1 season run in!
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