Never mind the ‘if only’s!

Posted on: 26th Aug 2009

There is a temptation to get sucked into looking at one’s performance with regrets; a bad start speed; an easily avoidable penalty or whatever and think, “I could have been in the S8; the Final..on the podium” etc. The truth is, no matter how it went for you and apart from the winner, everyone is thinking the same. Second can be a worse feeling than 9th. And, as always in life, there’s always someone who is much worse off than you are. There were many such cases in Budapest....look at the results and you can see that everyone apart from Mike Goulian has gone home with an “If only”. Mine is insignificant compared to some. My steady descent this season is a reversal of years past and I need to get to grips with the causes. I need to be enjoying the flying more. This may seem strange but as I left German airspace on Friday, the fog in my mind cleared and for the first time since before Abu Dhabi, I am really looking forward to the next race. We are the masters of our own destiny and I have stupidly allowed myself to become ever more distracted away from the principle objective of performing well on the track. Managing a team and pursuing ever more aircraft performance is important but there is a balance to be struck. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to bang in consistent times and it’s become too rare that I exit the track knowing that I have flown ‘according to plan’ and could not have done much better. This happened only once in Budapest! Like I said to the cameras on raceday...”that’s pathetic”. I know I can do it consistently and I need to rediscover that groove again. By nature of the job, pilots are generally control freak types and I am not an exception. What’s frustrating is that I recognise this trait and yet I have diverged from what is instinctive flying and to a large extent I have not been listening well to those around me. Typical male? Typical pilot? We mentioned that we had some power issues in Budapest and that is true. However, I don’t think this played a significant part on my downfall. We may be down on a few horse power but not many. It was more a matter of distraction. Sure, my focus on each flight was managing high oil temperatures (a self inflicted wound caused by a modification I had sanctioned) but the fact is, it was manageable and I should be able to take that sort of thing in my stride and fly well. Right now we have the cylinders off to re-seat the valves and we have a good solution (in theory anyway!) to sort out the oil cooling. “Always have a plan”... if it does not work out, make another one. Team Breitling really does have a fresh plan for Porto. It’s up to me to make it work.