The German Grand Prix was a special weekend for me as it was my first race as a Team Lotus driver. I am very grateful to Tony Fernandes and the team for giving me the opportunity to race last weekend and it was really nice to be back doing three days of work again! It really was a very steep learning curve all weekend as it was the first time I had used the DRS and, more importantly, the dry weather Pirelli tyres this year, which are very different to what I was used to in the past.
There are a lot of subtle differences with the Team Lotus car from this year when compared to the car I drove last season and all of this takes some getting used to. Over the course of the weekend I learnt more and more about the car and the way the team operates during a full weekend. They also learnt about me and my requirements from the car over the three days and it was really nice to be able to sit down and work through a program for the weekend again rather than just for one session. In many ways, it was a bit of a reminder of just how much I miss racing full time and also motivated me to work towards being back again soon.
At the start of the weekend I was a bit far away from Heikki but as the weekend progressed I got closer and closer with every session and in the end, I was about 0.8s away in qualifying. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't have been happy with that but in this situation, being thrown into the deep end, the team and I were both very pleased with that. Before the session, Tony, Riad (Asmat our CEO) and the engineers had said that if I qualified within a second of Heikki they will be pleased with that for a first effort on a really low fuel, option tyre run so the result was very encouraging for me.
I went home and watched the replay of the race on Monday night as I normally did last year, and what a fantastic race it was to watch! Lewis Hamilton drove one of those typical charging races to answer any critics and prove just why he is one of the best drivers on the planet today. His controlled aggression from lap one until the end with strategies mixing the order up all along the way was sublime and this was a win that he really had to work to deliver for McLaren. It was crucial for McLaren to get another win in the bag - over the last few weekends it looked increasingly like Ferrari had edged ahead but the 2008 world champion proved to be a real ace in the pack for the Woking squad.
It was amazing to see how many people criticised Seb Vettel after this weekend and start to proclaim the beginning of the end for his season! Yes, he didn't win; yes he didn't have pole; yes he didn't even get a podium - but I assure you it's hardly the end of his challenge. The reigning world champion didn't have his best weekend, but he still goes away from here with 12 points and a 77 point lead in the championship - hardly doom and gloom I must say! I really feel for Mark Webber though - three pole positions and yet to secure a race win must be frustrating for the Aussie. He's charging hard and driving very well but on the Sundays it just isn't quite clicking for him yet. I really do hope he gets a win in the bag soon.
Hungary could be a great opportunity for Mark to repeat his win from last year. The dominance the Red Bull cars showed last year was simply astounding, and although I don't expect them to be as far ahead this year, the RB7 should still be the class of the field at the tight and twisty Hungaroring. Together with Barcelona, the Hungaroring represents another great challenge to the "overtaking friendly" 2011 rules. Looking back, we did actually see some great racing in Barcelona so you never know, we may even see some overtaking here this year!
Karun Chandhok gives his views exclusively to ESPNF1 at the end of every grand prix weekend