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KRISTENSEN: Silverstone Debrief

Audi’s Tom Kristensen files his first Sportscar365 column…

Photo: Audi

Photo: Audi

It was great to finally roll the cars out for real at Silverstone last weekend. There was a great field of cars in general but of course, particularly with the works cars in the LMP1 class.

Practice for sure told us that we are definitely up against strong opposition. It was great to see the different concepts we have and the difference in cornering speeds, acceleration and top speed because the cars were all different.

But nevertheless, the lap times were quite similar. But it was very difficult to judge as the FIA allows us to adjust our own energy levels and fuel targets without any penalties in the free practice sessions.

So it was very difficult to know when somebody has actually done something legitimately for the fuel flow.

Of course, it makes it very busy and also difficult for us drivers too, as we’ve had to become a bit more involved in technical meetings to get a better understanding for the hundredths and tenths of a second you can find in the car when you are using the right strategies and profiles in this way.

For us, practice was great. In qualifying, I was very happy we could be on the front row. But if you look at all the cars, Toyota, Audi, Porsche were all within a very close margin.

Personally, having the single fastest lap in qualifying was of course a very good start for an old man like myself!

For sure, this is something I take in. It’s great that my teammates are giving me the support and trust that I hope we can carry on for the rest of the season.

We were all very happy with the car and prepared for conditions that that could be tricky in the race.

When we went into the race, you saw a great start and a great battle in the opening laps. But I think we had to look at something that happened at the end of the very first lap.

Lucas ran into a little bit of a fuel issue, in terms of spending a little bit too much trying to get past Wurz, which is normal.

Wurz made an opening lap allowance since Lucas was attacking him. Then his engine actually cut out finishing that lap.

If there was not a run-off area there, I think there could have been three cars out of the race. It was a very, very tricky situation. Maybe we have to look into that to see how we can do things better in the future.

The race went on and gosh, how exciting it was! I think Lucas did a great job. When the rain arrived, it was not with the intensity that we were expecting.

In hindsight, the cars were at risk and Toyota had already made the call to pit one car, which was a brilliant call. They won the victory there because from then on, it was just a matter of maintaining the lead they had, having called in their car early during the initial rain.

Lucas had no chance. The tire temperatures had dropped. You can be careful. Of course he’s devastated to have retired like that in the first race but I give him my full support. We saw Andre having issues in similar conditions later on then Ben.

So at that time, I think Audi lost the race for the win, unfortunately.

But later on, we saw things from all three manufacturers which bodes well for great battles in the future.

Congratulations to Toyota and for Porsche, for finishing their comeback race on the podium. I have a lot of respect for them. They certainly have a rocket ship in terms of speed.

Obviously we also recognize that they’re likely going for an aero package which is targeted for Le Mans.

Nevertheless, it bodes for a great season, particularly for us in car. No. 1, as well as car No. 2, as we look to hopefully challenge for the win at Spa.

Tom Kristensen is a nine-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a former ALMS champion and the 2013 FIA WEC Champion, driving for Audi Sport Team Joest in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

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