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  • Fabio’s Abu Dhabi report

    So the season is finally over, and I'm back at home now after a busy weekend in Abu Dhabi with Manor. Obviously the big question that everybody has been asking me is: "what are you doing next year?"

    But unfortunately, I’m not in a position to answer that yet. The reason why is that, as everyone knows, so much in Formula One depends on money, and I’m not yet sure how much of that I will have at my disposal in 2016! Usual story I guess: it’s the same for nearly every driver – so you just get on with it.

    During the off-season, many people think that drivers go off on holidays or spend their time at home eating and drinking through Christmas. Not a bit of it! The off-season is the time when you’re trying to get sponsors, prepare presentations, talk with teams – it’s much busier and more stressful than the actual season, when you can just get on with the business of racing.

    So I’m talking with Manor, and I also have a few other possibilities to explore. The third driver role I have been doing is a fantastic one in terms of experience: you get full immersion into the world of Formula One, and complete access to all the team meetings and debriefs. Essentially, you’re dealing with exactly the same information that the race drivers themselves receive, so as preparation for Formula One, it doesn’t get better. The highlight of the season for me was obviously driving the car in free practice in Hungary: it was a fantastic opportunity to show my capabilities with contemporary F1 machinery.
    But of course as a racing driver, what you want to do is actually race. So whatever I end up doing next year, I’d like a competitive element to it. I miss racing basically!

    All this depends on sponsorship though and that’s my focus at the moment. Formula One is still my goal – I believe that I have the capabilities to be world champion one day – but I keep an open mind regarding other things. There’s a huge variety of close competition out there in many different formulae. All I want to do is get out on track again.
    As a result, there are a few projects that I’m working on at the moment, so I’ll be writing again with an update in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, drive safely!

  • Fabio's Brazil report

    What did I make of the Brazilian Grand Prix? It's interesting how Nico Rosberg is on top now, taking poles and wins now that the fight for the championship is over. Often, it's easier to find the results once the pressure is off, but as a racing driver pressure is part of everyday life. You just have to learn how to absorb it. However, I also know from my own personal experience of winning the GP2 title just how much a championship campaign takes things out of you. You put all your energy and focus into winning the title and you only realise how concentrated you are once you achieve that objective. Then, when you take the objective away, it's not quite the same.

    When I won the GP2 title in 2013, I had a title fight that went right down to the final round in Abu Dhabi – where the next grand prix takes place this weekend – so I couldn't afford to relax for a minute.

    My main rival was Sam Bird, but Felipe Nasr – now driving for Sauber in F1 – was in with a shout too, while James Calado and Stefano Coletti also had a mathematical possibility to take the title. It was such a close fight with Sam, and my weekend got off to a bad start when we had a problem with the car in qualifying. But in the end, I actually managed to get the points I needed to win the title by finishing fourth in the feature race on Saturday. Then on Sunday I went one better and finished on the podium.

    These are all amazing memories for me, and I will be remembering those times with a lot of affection in Abu Dhabi this weekend. It's the final race of the season, but I've got an important job to do with Manor as reserve driver, and I will be putting all of my energies into doing it to the very best of my abilities, as always.

  • Fabio's Mexico report

    I've done a Mexican wave before...but it's been a long time since I saw a crowd like there was in Mexico doing one!

    It just goes to show how popular Formula One remains, fundamentally, and what a good idea it is for the championship to visit new places. Some people talk about falling TV audiences and what can be done to improve the show in F1, but I've got to say that the show looks pretty healthy to me.

    It was a great win for Nico Rosberg in Mexico City and it was something that he absolutely had to do, otherwise he risked becoming destroyed mentally for next year. As a driver, you don't tend to show your emotions for a number of reasons. Firstly, you don't want emotion to cloud your judgment and affect your performance. Secondly, if somebody else - especially your team mate - picks up on any negative emotions, it can put you at a competitive disadvantage. And there's no doubt that Nico needed to put the balance of power back in his favour, urgently.

    Most drivers consult a sports psychologist at some point in their careers - but generally they don't even like to talk about it. Paranoia and secrecy in Formula One?! Surely not...

    I might even have seen one myself. But I'm not telling!

  • Browsing supercars at AutoHelvetia

    There are worse ways to spend a day than trying out a selection of supercars, but that's just what I've been doing thanks to one of my amazing sponsors, AutoHelvetia. They have been kind enough to provide me with a car for a while now: at the moment I've got this absolutely fantastic Mercedes C63 AMG estate, which is like a rocket ship. But the problem with nice cars is that as soon as you have one, you already start thinking about the next one...

    So what do you reckon? I tried a few of the cars in the photo but I still can't quite make up my mind. Maybe you need to write in to me with a bit of advice. I love the Audi RS4, but the others look pretty tasty too. You can see all the cars that AutoHelvetia have available by going to: www.autohelvetia.ch

    And follow them on Facebook too: just click on the Facebook icon on the top right of their home page. Browse through the selection, and tell me what to get! Look forward to hearing from you.

  • Fabio's USA report

    I didn't go to the United States for the grand prix but I watched it from home in Switzerland and at least I stayed dry! It was just such a crazy weekend: I don't think there's ever been a race where teams had so little track time before the green light on Sunday.

    I know I said that about Russia too, but it highlights a big point: because there's so little testing now, it's very hard for young drivers in particular to get a decent amount of time in the car, so when things do go a bit wrong - like they did in America – you really don't have a lot of experience to fall back on.

    However, that does make for a pretty crazy race: it was sometimes hard to keep up with everything that was going on at Austin!

    Two big congratulations are in order: firstly to Lewis Hamilton, who won the championship in style, and second to Jolyon Palmer: last year's GP2 champion who was confirmed for a 2016 race drive at Lotus.

    Lewis won the GP2 title previously as well of course: in 2006, seven years before me. It just goes to show how well GP2 prepares you for the ultimate test. For me, there's a very clear reason why so many GP2 graduates have made it in Formula One: GP2 is a championship where all the cars are identical, so only the driving does the talking. I've not got a full-time race seat in Formula One yet, but I'm not giving up on getting one – and that's why I'm always so pleased to see my fellow GP2 champions doing well.

    Now Formula One moves onto Mexico: a brand new track, with loads of history behind it and fans who are mad about racing. So far, my knowledge about Mexico is limited to the occasional taco, but I'll post my thoughts on the race as soon as the weekend is done.

  • Fabio's Russia report

    Russia was certainly a different experience from Singapore and Japan! The Sochi circuit is a really impressive place to be: you are next to the sea and all around you are these futuristic buildings that were used for the Winter Olympics. It's all a bit like science fiction!

    As for the race, it was definitely a lot more entertaining than the one we had last year. The surface is a bit unusual: very low grip, and that was a big factor that contributed to all the action on track: both good and bad. We were all very relieved to see that Carlos was OK after his shunt on Saturday morning, but it didn't come as a big surprise to me that he was back in the car for the race. As a racing driver, this is exactly your mentality: you don't get scared or put off by accidents, you just want to get back in the car as quickly as possible.

    From my point of view, Russia was another really useful learning experience: it was fascinating to see how the team tackled the unique challenge of this circuit, both from an engineering and sporting point of view.

    The weekend was a bit cooler than many people expected, and that was another factor, as quite a lot of performance is linked to track temperature, for any Formula One car.

    I think it's been a long time since we've had a grand prix where teams have gone into qualifying with such a small amount of running in free practice, but if you come from a GP2 background, like me and some of the other drivers, that's not such a big deal: you get used to coping with a limited amount of practice and going straight into it.

    Now I'm back home again and concentrating on my training. I'll update the blog again after the USA Grand Prix.

  • Fabio's Singapore and Japan report

    It's been a busy couple of weeks at the Singapore and Japanese Grands Prix, and I learned a huge amount. I've been to both countries before, but never back-to-back!

    Singapore was just as hot and humid as I remembered it: I think the GP2 race that I did there was one of the physically toughest races of my career. But the smog that everyone talked about before the race was really not too bad.

    As a third driver, you try to be a bit like a human sponge: absorbing all the information that comes your way from the engineers, drivers and other team members. Everyday is a school day and there's always something to learn...

    One of the things I learned in Singapore was how to be a catwalk model. OK, that's maybe an exaggeration but I got to take part in the Amber Lounge fashion parade, which was a lot of fun. I don't think I'm quite ready to switch jobs yet though. It was a really nice suit, but I still reckon I look better in a helmet and overalls.

    From Singapore it was straight to Japan, which was pretty strange as you were into a new time zone, staying awake during the day as opposed to sleeping. Because Singapore is a night race, the evening became the morning and so on. A bit like being a student!

    Japan was another great experience: Suzuka is an awesome circuit and it was a strong race from Manor. I flew straight back on the Sunday night, as my next job was to sort out my Russian visa for the grand prix at Sochi next week...

  • Fabio to drive at Hungarian GP

    The Manor Marussia F1 Team is pleased to confirm that Fabio Leimer will take part in the opening Free Practice session of this weekend’s Formula One Pirelli Magyar Nagydíj 2015.

    Fabio, 26, from Rothrist in Switzerland, joined the team as an Official Reserve Driver last month, ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix. In addition to working closely with the drivers and engineers at races, his participation in an FP1 session was a scheduled step in his 'induction', so that he is fully acquainted with the MR03B and able to deputise in the event that a race driver is unable to compete.

    Fabio is a 2013 GP2 Series champion and winner of the 2011 GP2 Final. He is also a former Formula Master series champion, prior to which he competed in Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula BMW ADAC.

    John Booth, Team Principal, commented: "Running Fabio in a Free Practice 1 session is a planned opportunity that we have all been working towards for some time. We have enjoyed welcoming him into the team over the past few races and it will be interesting to gain his feedback on the car and assess his performance."

    Fabio Leimer said: "On this most difficult of weekends for the team, I am very appreciative of their decision to continue with my planned FP1 session. I'm looking forward to the opportunity and I hope I can make a positive contribution to the engineering programme for the weekend."

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