I suppose it only makes sense that my European racing debut comes at the home of British motorsport, and the birthplace of Formula 1. In case you haven’t heard, our first test is this Friday, on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit. Not the little National circuit, the full 3.6-mile track. The one the Formula 1 cars race on. “Copse,” “Stowe,” “Maggots-Becketts-Chapel,” are all terms we’ll be using to refer to the track that I’ll be racing on I’ve always preferred the European system of naming corners than just giving them numbers. Not only does it give each track its own personality, but in one word you can identify both the particular corner and track that you’re referring to. Every (non-oval) race track in the world has a turn 5, but only Spa-Francorchamps has La Source. Only Monza has the Lesmos.
But on to Silverstone. There are several challenges we’ll be facing this weekend. The most significant is that I’ll be driving a car I’ve never driven, on a circuit I’ve only seen on TV and in F1 2011, with a gearbox that I’ve never used on a race track (it has a proper H-pattern), without having driven competitively in 3 years. With that in mind, our morning program is very simple. I’ll leave the pits and come straight back in. Austin and Adam will take a look at the car to make sure it’s not leaking and nothing has fallen off. After that I’ll do 5 laps and then another quick check, and then I’ll just go out and do laps until the session ends or we run out of fuel. If I’m starting to feel comfortable before the end of the session, we may start making some simple changes to start getting a feel for their effects. But it won’t do much good if I’m missing apexes and grinding gears.
Once all the rust is knocked off and I put up some consistent times, we can start making set-up changes. The previous driver liked to run with a very stiff front, so we may work on softening it up a bit. I’m not exactly sure what we can change, but we’re being garaged right next to Jamun Racing, the team who have won the championship every year since around 2006. So maybe our high-budget operation won’t intimidate them too much and they can help us out a bit.
We’ve got an on-board camera, so we’ll definitely capture as much video as we can and, if they let us, throw it up on YouTube and here for everyone to see!