Back in 2012 you participated in a mid-season Formula One test at Mugello – setting the fastest time of 1:21.035 in your Lotus-Renault. What do you remember of the track in terms of the layout, the challenges, and how fast do you think the 2020 Formula One cars will go there?
“The layout is absolutely outstanding. The region, first of all, it’s beautiful, and then the track is built in such a way that you go up and then down a little bit. It’s very fast, there aren’t any low speed corners. There’s mid-to-high speed corners, a very long straight line. The two Arrabbiatta corners are absolutely outstanding. I think with the 2020 cars it’s just going to be bloody awesome.”
While 2020’s revised calendar simply couldn’t afford any in-season testing, were you a fan of those tests once the season was up and running and what were the key benefits in that added run time amidst the Grand Prix action?
“I don’t mind going testing in mid-season, but I also don’t mind not testing mid-season either. I guess both are fine with me. I think it’s always great to be able to have testing, especially if you’re bringing parts to the car. For us, we’re not really bringing any upgrades, so it wouldn’t do much for us just now to have in-season testing.”
The Tuscan Grand Prix marks the ninth event in 11 weekends for Formula One. What are your thoughts on the intensity of the current run of races and what has been the impact on both yourself and the team?
“It’s been really intense. After the previous triple-header it took me a week to get back to some kind of form, I’d be having a siesta and then a long night every day. I guess it’s the same for the team, and I have to say the guys are doing an amazing job, especially for us as we don’t have that extra bit of happiness when you win races – you can surf on that euphoria. We don’t have that, which obviously makes it a bit harder.”
After the checkered flag drops at Mugello is there an opportunity to mentally reset and prepare for the second half of the season knowing the flow of races returns to a regular pace starting with the Russian Grand Prix – and specifically what will your preparations consist of?
“I guess so. I think the first thing is that the week after Mugello I’ll rest again and then start to get ready for Russia. I have to find out how I’m going to travel to Russia – it’s not as easy as we’d like. We’ll then, as you say, get into more of a normal rhythm, which should make it a little easier. There’s a bit more traveling but it’s not too crazy. We’re going to some really cool tracks, and I’ll pack my winter jacket for going to the Nürburgring. The best preparation you can have is to be driving the cars.”