Dino Zamparelli's GP3 Diary - Italy
The Marussia Manor driver reflects on a difficult weekend after a braking problem saw him cause a crash and pick up a ban.
By Dino Zamparelli
Last Updated: 19/09/13 12:03pm
On the back of a confident performance at Spa, where I felt I had regained my mojo, and at my second home race in front of the passionate Italian fans which is also one of my favourite tracks on the calendar.
Qualifying hadn't been going so strong for the last few rounds, but I was sure that at Monza, we could climb up the time sheets a bit more. I was rewarded well for not letting my qualifying woes in the past affect me and kept my head up to qualify in 11th spot for the first race.
I was fairly confident for the race because in the previous races, I had gone from 16th to the top ten in most cases, so to go from 11th to the top eight, should have been no problem. I was happier with the improved qualifying performance but still not completely satisfied.
The track was hot and the sun was out, and the race was underway. I made a good start and launched into the top ten from the line. And it was into the braking zone for turn one, on lap one that things went spectacularly wrong.
Into fifth gear I went, onto the brakes I went, off the brakes I had to come and back on the brakes (too late) I had to reapply. Let me explain.
Everything felt good on the warm up lap and everything felt good on the lead up to the first right hand corner. When I went to hit the brakes, I felt a soft pedal. It didn't go completely long, but it went soft. It's something that hasn't happened all year. It was soft enough that meant I had to come off the brakes and then reapply the brakes otherwise I wasn't going to stop it properly.
The only issue with doing that at 150 mph is that you have nine other cars just ahead of you and unlike any other lap, they're all trying to brake and turn in at the same point on the track. Not only that, but there isn't any margin for error. And this was an error. It was an error because I wasn't going to get it stopped in time for the corner; so I made a decision. At the last moment I decided save an imminent crash to the car ahead of me, and veer off onto the grass to try and slow it down more and get out of the way of all the cars into turn one. Ironically, I believe it actually did the opposite. It felt like it speeded me up and piled me straight into the pack. Oh great.
It felt ominously similar to crash you'll see on those F1 computer games. The only difference being I couldn't hit the repeat button...and I wasn't trying to skip the corner or hit anybody.
Things went from bad to worse when after the race; I was suspended for Sunday's race meaning I couldn't race. A poor decision by the stewards in my opinion; but then again, I don't think there has been a decision that has made sense from them all year. I'm not sure they know what they're doing.
We've seen much crazier and more dangerous driving all year, all of which have only ended in grid penalties. And yet mine, which was just an error that I tried my best to avoid, ended in a very harsh and unnecessary ban.
And the award for the most ridiculous question of the year went to the leading steward. "I want to know whether you did it deliberately or not..."
So a big apology to my team and my team-mate who got collected in the incident. I want to find out what went wrong - the car didn't seem to have any obvious braking issues when we got it back and the data didn't come up with any answers. Unfortunately I think it's just one of those things that I will have to take on the chin, accept, apologise and move on.
They say that 'your greatest achievement is rising from a fall' and that 'it's not about how hard you can hit, it's about how hard you can get hit, and still keep moving forward'...Abu Dhabi is up next.
So as painful as it is, there are seven weeks until Abu Dhabi. I'll train harder and work more with my team to come back stronger and fight to prove that the pace and speed has been there all year; and end the season on a real high!
Follow Dino on Twitter: @DinoZamparelli