Very flat, yet very uneven. That’s the paradox of Sebring and you really need to drive it to understand how a track with such a flat profile and wide corners can be so difficult to deal with, especially on a car like Lotus 79. Big and heavy GT cars are not as affected by the bumps, but light-weight single-seater with very little suspension travel will get thrown around all over the place. To go fast, you need to find that invisible line and avoid the biggest bumps, but it’s still not going to be a smooth ride and you need a car that you can hang onto even when things get rough. Setups here usually tend towards softer suspension with higher rideheight and a low downforce trim, overall balance should be set slightly towards understeer to reduce the chance of spinning when car hops and skips through corners. To compensate for that understeery suspension setup, I go for a bit more aggressive differential that allows me to steer the car with throttle when there’s enough grip and car has settled down.
Once the car felt good, it was off to the races and while the first start didn’t go entirely according to plan, I didn’t have any major issues to deal with before second start. It wasn’t a perfect race because I didn’t expect my pace to get so much quicker during the race and that resulted in higher fuel consumption than predicted. Having to save fuel cost me some time and put me under pressure from cars behind, but it didn’t directly cost me any positions as I only needed just one more litre to guarantee I’ll get to the finish. Unfortunately, later on I ended up having to defend my position and it was going well until the other driver missed his braking point and sent me off the track, losing two positions in one corner and there wasn’t enough laps to recover from it.
Second race and the main one for the week went better, start was really exciting with more competitive field and I think I managed to pick up few places there. Plan was to stick to what I’ve been doing for past weeks and concentrate on getting good result rather than take too many chances and risk losing it all. There were couple good scraps here and there but it looked like most of the field was thinking the same thing, Sebring is very unforgiving to those who try to overreach and what we saw, or at least how it looked from my perspective, was a much more conservative race than usual. In the end, the result was a decent, but not particularly amazing 123 points for the week. Next week we’ll be at Suzuka which is another familiar track but it looks like I’ll have very little time for practice, so I can’t go experimenting too much with the setup and instead go with a proven baseline.