Another failure & Nico's lead might be too big
Retiring from the Canadian Grand Prix last time out has given me a bit of a pause for thought about the championship.
I’m still totally confident I can overhaul the 22-point advantage my team-mate Nico Rosberg has over me now, but it has become even more apparent than it already was that I need to be finishing every race.That’s 43 points I’ve lost to the failures I had in the first race of the season in Australia and Canada. Nico won in Melbourne and finished second in Montreal.
Twenty-two points is still catchable, especially as we have effectively 13 races still to go with double points at the last race, but another situation like that and that gap might start to get too big. Everyone expecting I might be down after retiring with brake failure in Canada but actually Australia was more gutting.
In Melbourne, I’d been through all the winter preparing, you’re there for a week and you do three long days at the track. You just want to see the race through and effectively I didn’t get to do anything at all.On top of that, it was a blow because I’d lost a potential 25 points and the season had only just started.
Canada was different, because at least I’d had half the race, I was leading and I did everything I could have. Of course, you always come away from it thinking maybe I should have done this or that differently.
In hindsight, when we first hit the problem with the failure in the kinetic energy recovery system, I could have let Nico pull away, then I’d have had clean air, and I wouldn’t have had such a hot car, and maybe the brakes wouldn’t have overheated when I did my pit stop.So perhaps, with that in mind, strategy will change this weekend if we have another marginal situation reliability-wise, although I’m not expecting one.
We should have another strong weekend here in Austria.I've not raced on this track before. The most recent Grand Prix here was in 2003 and I never came here in the junior formulae.But I've driven the track on the simulator and it looks like a fun place. And it's in beautiful countryside, which I always love. So I'm really looking forward to the weekend.
WANTING TO RACE BIKES ONE DAY
I’ve had a busy time since the race in Canada, including a trip to the MotoGP race in Spain last weekend.Along with NBA basketball, MotoGP is my favourite sport to watch.I have a bike at home which I ride on streets and motorways and so on, and knowing the speed the grand prix bikes can do and how vulnerable you are on those things, it’s scary.Seeing the way the riders drift the bikes into the corner; my respect for those guys could not be any higher.
Last weekend, it was really cool for me to see the different riding styles.Valentino Rossi is in my opinion one of the most – if not the most - incredible riders of all time.He just seems to be able to eke out that bit extra from the bike than perhaps others do. You could see that in the Spanish race last weekend. The Yamaha is not as fast as the Honda, but Rossi was still in the mix with them at the front.
It’s amazing that he can come back year after year after year, and stay just as fit and committed as the youngsters. People probably don’t think about it, but that is not easy to do.
It’s also interesting to watch Marc Marquez. He’s got the best bike but it’s remarkable what he’s achieved – seven wins in a row and it looks like he is going to win the championship in his first year.When I watch him I feel like I see some reflections of myself in his style. He thinks a lot like me.Watching those races, I’m always thinking, ‘I would have done it like this.’ And he does the exact lines I would have taken, and they work. So it’s really cool to see that.
It’s a great sport, and it’s good how close the fans can get.I really want to try it one day and I think to myself, John Surtees won the title on both bikes and cars – how cool would it be to do that?The only problem is it’s easy to be popped off one of those things and so you couldn’t take the risk in an F1 season. But I’ll definitely try it one day.
A REMINDER ABOUT THE RISKS OF RACING
The dangers of bikes are obvious to anyone watching, but it’s easy to forget F1 is a dangerous sport, too.Watching it, F1 looks so much more comfortable. You don’t see our bodies all over the place. You just see a helmet.Some people do forget the dangers, but I’m always aware of them when I get in the car.
Safety, though, has come a long way and it’s quite phenomenal when you see some of the shunts that people are able to walk away from, like the crash between Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez in Canada.I still haven’t seen the Perez-Massa shunt properly. I saw a glimpse of it when it was live – and my impression from a distance was it looked like one of them must have moved because all of a sudden they touched.
It just shows you that at such high speeds the slightest change in position can be crucial. Sitting in the cockpit, we also have loads of blind spots, and we don’t know where the people are sometimes. So you have to have a lot of confidence in the people around you.Hitting a wall at those speeds is not a nice feeling. You just brace for impact. And it hurts, but not necessarily where you might expect.
I’ve had some big head-on shunts and often it’s your legs that hurt most.I remember in one of my shunts years ago my legs were kicking afterwards. It’s like if you burn your finger on a flame and you shake your hand out of pain –that’s what I felt in one of those crashes.As long as you’re not injured, though, the biggest feeling after a crash like that is disappointment.
It was such a shame for both Massa and Perez.They had driven so well all through the race and were going to get great results for their teams. If you don’t finish, especially when it happens like that so late in the race, there is a lot of pain because you feel like you’re letting down a large group of people.