“I Learned the Track from a Piece of Paper!”
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Matthew Brabham received an 11th-hour call up to race for the Andretti Formula E team in Malaysia. Despite only landing in Kuala Lumpur on Friday morning, he was able to start the Putrajaya ePrix from ninth on the grid. In the incident-packed race he came home 13th. Here are his thoughts on the event.
You received a late call-up, how were you able to prepare for not only driving the cars, but also the conditions given the heat and humidity in Malaysia?
“It’s been a challenge for sure. It was a last-minute call-up and it took me 14 hours to get to Dubai and then seven hours to Malaysia. When we arrived I didn’t have time to walk the track so just went straight out for the Friday evening practice. It’s definitely a tough track to learn as well. It was a lot more challenging than Beijing and it was a lot more fun as well. I enjoyed it, but it was definitely tough. When I first went out in that first session I didn’t really know what way some of the corners went, but once I’d figured it out it was alright.”
So you hadn’t even driven the track in the simulator?
“No, not at all. I was given the track layout on a piece of paper on the plane and that’s all I was armed with!”
Having tested the car at Donington, what did it feel like to finally drive the car in its proper surroundings?
“It was great. Being a tight track the car felt a lot quicker because the walls were going by quicker. It’s definitely a good street-track car. It was able to make all the tight turns relatively easily, it handled quite well, it had good grip on a track with no rubber on it. I was impressed.”
How did you feel you performed?
“You always feel that you could have done better. I think if I hadn’t done a mistake on the first lap and hit that guy [Heidfeld] in the hairpin – sorry to them, it’s just my mistake, I got a little too ambitious – I could have easily made the pass, had I just broke a little bit earlier, but unfortunately I overshot the pass and that really kind of screwed up our race. I think we had really good pace and there was so much carnage out there and things going on I felt that if I’d just stayed where I was I would have been right out the front and it would have been possible to get on the podium, but it didn’t work out that way. But I learnt a lot and I’m taking a lot of experience away from this. There’s a lot to be learned and I’m very grateful to be out on track with these guys and I’m grateful for the opportunity from Andretti.”
Will you be racing again?
“I hope so. I’d love to come back. It’s a great series and it’s got some great drivers it in and I’d love to be in it for a while and do some more races but nothing is set in stone yet…we’ll see what happens when we get closer to the race, but I’d love to be back.”