Imola marks Formula 1’s first official two-day race weekend. Does it increase your anticipation and excitement, or does it add pressure knowing there’s a solitary practice before qualifying?
“I guess it’s not easy. There are a few tracks, like Barcelona, where you don’t really need the Friday as you know it by heart. But Imola – well I raced there a very long time ago, so I don’t really remember it that well. Saying that, the Nürburgring was kind of the same and things turned out well for us. I think it’s quite exciting. It brings some unpredictability into the race – that’s something Formula 1 has been generally lacking. Hopefully it will spice things up.”
Formula 1 has visited several tracks either new to Formula 1 or perhaps not utilized by the series in a long time – such as Imola. Have you enjoyed the opportunity to run at some of these venues in Formula 1 this year?
“Yes, very much. First, it was a very good job by Formula 1 managing to get so many races into the season, second, it was really cool to discover, or re-discover some tracks like Mugello, Nürburgring, Portimao, Imola, and I think Turkey’s going to be mega. To me they are tracks that should be on the calendar. I know we cannot go to 30 races a year, but I would love to see a change from year to year in terms of the tracks Formula 1 visits. It’s really cool to discover new places and see the different types of racing.”
The flip side to visiting those venues in 2020 is that you’re missing out on driving some favoured F1 tracks normally found in the latter half of the calendar. Which circuit are you missing the most from the regular F1 schedule and why?
“Suzuka, as it’s my favorite track. That’s the one I’m definitely missing. I’d include Singapore, it’s always quite an iconic one. Austin’s a pretty good place. There are many tracks I’m disappointed we didn’t get to. That’s why seeing a calendar that maybe one year is more European based, the other year more newer circuits, it could be quite cool. Then you get the best of both worlds.”
Imola was a happy hunting ground for you in 2011 in the GP2 Asia Series – where you scored a pole position, two fastest race laps and a win in the double-header event. What are your memories of the circuit and your thoughts heading into the weekend?
“It’s actually pretty fast. There were some bumps on track, I don’t know if it’s been resurfaced, but it was a bit bumpy. There are some cool old-style kerbs. Obviously, it’s a track with a lot of history – notably with Ayrton (Senna) from 1994. You can’t go there and not think about that. It’s generally a pretty cool track. I’m really looking forward to discovering it with a super-fast car.”