F1 a grand gesture
IWENT within a second of claiming my sixth Mt Panorama title last weekend, so that’s a bit disappointing.
But the whole Bathurst 12-Hour experience was fantastic and I’m now even more hopeful about my prospects of driving in the Le Mans 24-Hour race.
It would be great to take an Aussie team to France for the race and I’d be more than happy to go with my teammates from the weekend, Warren Luff and Mark Eddy.
We had a great Audi team result with a 1-2 finish – less than a second part. Our car was right on the pace and set a GT Production lap record of 2:09, which is a second faster than Tony Quinn in the Porsche GT3 R last year.
And we could have won the race, except for some of the tactical calls our crew made during safety-car periods.
It was mainly because of a lack of communication back and forth between the drivers and the German crew who were getting to know each other, but we also had some bad luck.
In one case, I was coming through the Chase when the safety car came out and it was too late to slip down pit lane.
We may not have come first, but I still had a few personal firsts, including the first time I’d driven a race car with ABS and stability control and my first rolling start in 20 years.
The Audi R8 LMS GT3 race car was great to drive.
It is about 25km/h slower in terminal speed than the V8, but it is the quickest I’ve been across the top of the mountain.
The car is really well balanced, with great aero, and I held it almost flat across the top.
We dialled out the ABS and stability control at first as a caution, but as the tyres wore down we dialled it back in.
With stability control on, you could come out of the Cutting and basically put your foot hard on the throttle and let it do its job.
I wouldn’t mind if they introduced electronic driver aids such as this in V8s. It would make the car easier to drive because it does a lot of the work for you.
The next time I’m at Bathurst could be in an F1 car. Team Vodafone is trying to stitch together a deal where I drive Jenson Button’s F1 car and he drives my race car at Bathurst in the lead-up to the Australian Grand Prix in
Jamie Whincup drove an F1 at Albert Park last year and has been raving about it since
Melbourne next month. I’m not sure yet if it’s 100 per cent confirmed, but it would be a great opportunity.
I have never driven an F1 car. The closest I got was racing Formula 3000 in Europe. Jamie Whincup drove an F1 at Albert Park in Melbourne last year and has been raving about it since.
I’d be delighted with the opportunity, but I have concerns about taking it around Bathurst. There are safer paces to drive an F1 car. Bathurst is a circuit we drivers hold in high regard and I’d be concerned about damaging the car; even just clipping a wing would be quite expensive.
Speaking of F1, I’m in Abu Dhabi for the first round of the V8 Supercar season this weekend and by the time you read this we should have visited Ferrari World.
It wasn’t finished when we were here last year and I want to ride the roller-coaster that goes from 0-250km/h in five seconds. It’s supposed to be the same acceleration as an F1.
Team Vodafone blitzed the field here last year with a new car and we’re keen to do it again, but there will be one major difference. This time the whole event is being run on soft tyres. That’s practice, qualifying and two races on softs.
It’s an unbelievable smooth, fast and flowing circuit, but the sand drifts across and acts like sandpaper rubbing the tyres away quickly.
It will be a real challenge to get the tyres to last and extract the best out of them.
Tactics will be important because of the big speed differential between worn and fresh rubber. That should lead to lots of passing opportunities.
Interestingly, we qualify in the heat of the day and race at night, so the race pace will potentially be the same as, or faster than, qualifying. Lap records should tumble. My race engineer, Jeromy Moore, was at the Bathurst 12-Hour and he saw the way they stiffened that car up. We may do the same on our car for this circuit with the combination of soft tyres and a smooth track.
Under lights: V8 Supercars driver Jamie Whincup races at the YAS Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.