Jules Bianchi has teamed up with JA on F1 to bring readers closer to the sport, as seen through the eyes of one of the best young driving talents coming through today.
Jules has been a driver with the Marussia F1 Team for a year and a half, and is a member of the Ferrari Young Driver Academy.
Jules Bianchi writes: “One of the most popular questions we drivers are asked is ‘What is your favourite track?’ and I’m willing to bet that if you did a referendum of current F1 drivers the winner would be Spa! Also for me it is the track that I like the most, together with Suzuka.
“Why? It is not just the pleasure of driving on a fast, challenging track, with corners that can really stir your emotions, but also the atmosphere that I can feel every time I’m racing there. It’s something special; not easy to describe in words. But I will try!
“The warmth of the fans is part of it; you feel it in other places too – for example in Melbourne and Montreal, where there is a great passion for Formula 1 – but at Spa you can actually ‘feel’ the history, in my case I feel it as a chill on my skin – it is like you can sense that on this track some unforgettable moments have occurred.
“I thought, maybe, to help you to understand more what it means to drive at Spa, you could watch this video I found on YouTube of my uncle Lucien, who takes you around the track in 1962 in a sportscar. That year he also ran in the Belgian Grand Prix with a Lotus-Climax: The track has changed since then [shortened] but I think the pleasure of driving there has remained unchanged!
“It’s a little bit the same thing in Monza, the so-called ‘Temple of Speed’. Although the track in theory is not really that challenging for the driver, unlike Spa or Suzuka, the emotion of pushing the engine to the limit for long periods of time, as you do on a lap of Monza, is priceless.
“From the driving point of view, perhaps one of the most difficult things at Monza is trying to find the exact point at which to brake, given the speed at which you arrive at the chicane, particularly the one at the end of the main straight is very high (350km/h). We are travelling at around 100 metres every second so if you brake a fraction of a second too early you lose a lot of time, but if you brake too late you lock up the tyres or you can easily go off the track. There is no margin for error.
“And this year, with a lot less downforce on the cars, so less grip than last year, it was really not easy to do.
“There is another thing that makes this race unique: the passion of the fans, the tifosi, which in Italy reaches unbelievable levels. And I must say that this year I actually felt more than in the past. It’s probably because for the first time I was running with a Ferrari engine, maybe also because of my origins, maybe also because they now see me as part of the “family” of Maranello. But this week I received lots of great messages of support from the fans and I want to thank them very much.
“It was special to race in Formula 1 at Monza with a power unit built at Maranello. But, you know, my dream is to one day be able to do it with an all red car.. in the meantime I made do with just a part of it!
“All this being said, it was really a shame that the results of these two races, kicking off the second part of the championship, were very disappointing. At Spa I had a fantastic qualifying session, getting into the Q2 session for the third time this year. But the puncture from contact with Grosjean, coming out of the Source, ruined my race. At Monza we knew we were in trouble, but we did not perhaps expect so much.
“It’s really annoying because I arrived in Belgium with such a strong desire to drive after the summer break. I took advantage of the ‘shutdown’ in F1 to recharge my batteries: no Internet, no phone, no email, just relax and have fun, at least in the first week.
“Then at the end of the break I spent a few days in the mountains to do some physical preparation for the next few months will be very stressful; we have lots of races and they are all long-haul, outside Europe.
“These will also be important weeks for my future, but I am very concentrated on the present. I’m used to not knowing what will happen the next year right up to the last moment, so it’s pointless getting distracted by these thoughts.
:And in any case, there’s my manager and friend Nicolas, who is working on it: he knows what to do!”