Hino Hot Track: Newcastle with De Silvestro

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 23/11/2018
  • By Supercars.com

The 2018 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship concludes in Newcastle this weekend, nearly nine months after it all got underway.

A picturesque and challenging street circuit greeted drivers and teams last year, when the Coates Hire Newcastle 500 joined the calendar.

One of the standout performers 12 months ago in her Harvey Norman Nissan, Simona De Silvestro is your Hino Hot Track guide to the 2.63km venue.

The driving challenge

I think Newcastle is the best street circuit I've ever driven on, coming from IndyCar and Formula E, to be honest.

Having the elevation is fun, the scenery is really cool as well and it's really quick for a street course.

It's about being really committed, you just have to be really on it.

We're travelling quite fast, and it's fun in the sense that it's really on the edge.

It's quite a tricky place. You really have to be committed, especially down the hill, and into the braking zones there's quite a lot of lap time on the line.

Some parts are quite flowing, even through the 90-degree corners; pretty much when you start down the hill, all the way to the long back straight.

It starts at Turn 2 at the top of the hill, it really flows down there and it's about getting it right.

It's quite a long section and if you mess up early in that run it can cost you all the way.

Within that sequence, we had a good run going with overtaking at Turn 8 last year.

It seemed to work really well. I don't know why, it must've been my car being really hooked up through there.

I tend to like that section, and definitely in the race - for me - it made a really good passing zone.

Now everybody knows about it, it might be a bit different! We were really good through that section with our car.

There's three really long straights as well, where you have to get a really good exit to have a good lap time.

And the hairpin, getting that right can be pretty tricky, it's coming off the back stretch there is really bumpy and there's a really fast left-hander there.

It needs big commitment, and the flowing stuff usually tends to work well for me, so I like the track.

The engineering challenge

I've got a lot of confidence going into Newcastle, knowing that we were quick there last year.

We're on a different tyre to last year, so it might be a little bit different but it seems like we know what works in our car and when we get it right, it works.

The big thing is you have to have really good power-down.

You have to be really hooked-up when you come onto those long straights, because there's quite a lot of lap time down there.

From a handling perspective, it's about not having too much understeer.

You're really dependent on the front end of the car to really get where you want it to, being able to carry some speed.

Mechanical grip is quite important and braking is really important as well.

My Newcastle memories

I take a lot out of how strong we were in Newcastle last year, even if the results didn't go our way in the end.

It's a place I like. I had a lot of fun there last year driving, and in the race we were really competitive and we were passing cars.

That was the biggest thing. Hopefully if qualifying goes a little better, we can be a little bit more mid-pack and if we are still as strong as last year, I think we can finish the season strong.

This year hasn't been great, to be honest. I think pace-wise we were really good.

In the races we showed that we can be right there but just the results are nowhere.

It's been a bit frustrating because I drove better this year and I think the car was also a bit better than last year.

It just shows how competitive the field is, and we don't have the results to show for it.

In Newcastle, hopefully things align and we have a really smooth weekend, qualify alright and have good races.

Stay In The Know
Sign up to the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship Newsletter