#20 Silverstone - Friday Practice
This is the one I've been looking forward to. This is the home of British Motor Racing and where Formula One are once a year. The most famous track. The one I see Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso racing. Now I will get to experience it for myself.
I arrive at 6pm on the Thursday. The place is huge. I'm in the VW camper. Its a beautiful day. I drive up to the main gates and I'm told to park up and wait until 7pm for the teams to leave the circuit that had been testing that day. No worries, there's a huge area just off to the right of the main entrance where we all stack up and wait.
I drive the camper around to the National circuit paddock. This is the old paddock and pit lane, the iconic start/finish straight before Copse corner leading into Maggots and Becketts. When I park and setup the camper I can't yet see the track. The circuit is so vast driving through the centre its quite easy to lose your bearings, certainly for the first time.
I'm totally knackered from the drive so I get an early night ready for Friday Practice. Don't really get much sleep. As usual, I'm buzzing.
My alarm goes at 6am. I head straight for the shower block. Surprisingly fresh considering my 4hr sleep. The adrenaline and excitement taking over. My team arrived late Thursday night due to essential parts for my car only arriving that day at 4pm. They worked hard to get everything ready. I return from my shower and the guys are already up and getting the cars out of the trucks.
We're on track first for session 1 at 9am. I'm instructed to take it easy to bed in the new engine parts. We suffered a split exhaust manifold during testing at Snetterton. I'd never driven this track before so this was a good time to learn the lines. Session 2 I was able tostart pushing and getting to know my braking points. Unfortunately a red flag interrupted the session and my momentum. Session 3 was completely red flagged after a short 10 minutes and then in session 4 my car lost power.
In the absence of any previous testing, I had to do all my track learning on Friday practice. Unfortunately due to a number of incidents and sharing the track with the slower Cooper AM/Pro cars it was a frustrating day for me. I didn't feel I knew the track as well as I'd hoped. I felt like I was 1-2 seconds off my true pace. I was missing apex's, and was inconsistent from one lap to the next. Never quite putting it all together.
That evening my wife and children arrived safely. My wife surprising me by bringing our JCW Challenge Mini road car. She'd never driven it before. She loved it. We had supper together in the van. The girls were super excited as usual. I'd bought them both a new scooter. The same colour as the race car. They where whizzing around the pit garage for the next two hours in their own little racing world. We finished off with a game of football in the pit lane with the other teams. Was a really lovely evening. It felt special to be sharing this with other like-minded people. Keepy-uppy's with an icon backdrop.
10:30pm and it was time to retreat. I actually slept like a baby that night. Bliss.