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2020 Spanish Grand Prix – Preview

11 August 2020
With tires and tire management having dominated much of Formula One’s double-stint at Silverstone – does that frustrate you as a racing driver or is it simply part of the package in modern Formula One? “I guess it is part of modern Formula One, but if you ask me what I think of it, yes – it’s a bit disappointing. It’s not that the tires wear, that’s understandable, the more you push the more you wear the tire. I think the disappointing part is that you need to manage the temperature for overheating, therefore you have to drive slower to keep the grip, so you reduce your lengths. I think the driver should have an impact on the tire wear, for sure, but not so much on the performance of the tires because they overheat.” Is your Q2 qualifying performance from the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix the highlight of your season to-date? What was the key to unlocking those qualifying laps both in Q1 and Q2 in the VF-20? “I guess the key to getting the laps in both in Q1 and Q2 was to keep going in the direction we worked on at the British Grand Prix. I didn’t have a good qualifying session, but I thought we had the pace to go into Q2. I was really hoping at the second race weekend I was going to do the job – I did, and the car felt good. The set-up direction we took worked really well for me; I was happy with it. I have a much better front end on the car, and that’s really helping me to improve qualifying. So, yes, it’s a highlight of the season, and I’d say in both races I was performing as well as I could with the VF-20. The Silverstone races were really good.” Is there value in going to Spain now and comparing the data from the VF-20 with what was learned in pre-season testing in February, or does the temperature difference racing there in August simply negate any possible comparison? “I think we need to see the weather, but it’s most likely that it’s going to be hot. It will therefore be very different from winter testing. The car has matured, and we’ve evolved from where we were. I guess we’ll have a look, just out of interest, but my feeling is that it’s going to be very different.” What are your Spanish Grand Prix highlights from your five point-scoring performances there in Formula One? “I think it’s from 2012 – where I scored my only fastest-lap in a grand prix in the Lotus E20. It was good race, I really enjoyed it. 2014, I had a terrible car, but I managed to score points. I’ve had some good races there. We all know the track very well, but obviously we always try to do the best that we can.”

2020 70th Anniversary Grand Prix – Preview

5 August 2020
The old phrase states ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ – do you feel that applies to team strategy with some bold calls at the Hungarian Grand Prix and again in Sunday’s British Grand Prix – where you ran deep on the medium tires to run as high as fifth? “Yes, I think we try as much as we can. Obviously, the last two strategy calls have been the right ones. It paid out in Hungary with Kevin (Magnussen) scoring a point. It didn’t really happen on Sunday, but we tried. We brought the car up to fifth, I was having a good race from there. It’s good and I think we need to keep doing that.” What are the key takeaways from the British Grand Prix that can be applied to this weekend’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone? “I think it will again be another interesting race. The tire selection is a bit different, so everything we learned throughout the weekend and on Sunday is good. We can try to optimize everything. We have some ideas as to where we can get better, that’s what our focus will be on.” With Formula One announcing a return to the Nürburgring in October – where you scored a third place podium in the 2013 German Grand Prix, plus the addition of Portimao and Imola, do you relish the return to a circuit with some happy memories and what experience, if any, do you have of the other circuits? “I’m very happy with the addition of those tracks. Nürburgring is a great track and 2013 was a very good race. We had a bit of a different strategy and without the safety car I’d have won the race. I raced at Imola in the 2011 GP2 Asia Series, taking the pole and winning the feature race. It’s an incredible circuit with a lot of history obviously. I’ve only ever seen footage of Portimao, but it looks really good – let’s see what we can do in a Formula One car there.” From a driver’s perspective is it exciting to go to new circuits and have that element of the unknown ahead of a race weekend? “Yes – 100 percent. It makes a change from the routine we normally have. I am very happy with the calendar, I think it’s great fun. I think we’re going to have a good year going to these tracks.” How do you work with your engineers to prepare for those tracks, is it predominantly simulator work? What do you specifically focus on as a driver in this scenario? “Yes, I think the simulator is important. Also, getting all the information from the track, the scanning, the layout – everything to ensure we are ready for when we go there. It’s going to involve some work in advance, some simulator work, some onboards and so on, to really discover the track.”

2020 British Grand Prix – Preview

28 July 2020
The Hungarian Grand Prix proved to be the highlight, in terms of the overall performance of the VF-20, from the opening three races of the 2020 campaign. What made the difference there? “I think we understood the car a little bit more, we tried to put it in a better place. I guess the layout of the circuit worked a tiny bit better for the car, so we were a bit more on the pace – matching the pace of others, which was good.” Do you adjust your mindset for qualifying knowing it’s an area that so-far hasn’t been an area of strength for the VF-20? Do you feel Q2 should be achievable for both cars on Saturday afternoons? “I think Q2 for both cars is our next target. I don’t know if that’s achievable in the next few races, but it’s definitely where we’re aiming to go. We’ll work as hard as we can and obviously try to get there without affecting our race pace.” It feels like we’ve had a bit of everything across the first three race weekends – notably the one thing that has been consistent is the inconsistency – from variable weather session-to-session, reliability issues, qualifying performance versus race performance etc. Has it been hard to get a true feeling on where things stack up? And now that you’ve had time to reflect a little, what are you hoping for in terms of how the team develops the VF-20? “I think now this year we start to have an idea as to what the VF-20’s like. We’re now fighting with Alfa Romeo and Williams just a little bit behind the midfield, so we just have to try to get the car in an even sweeter spot. I think we’ve done a good job, but we’re going to keep pushing and see what comes to us and see what we can improve.” What are the ingredients for a successful weekend setting up a car for Silverstone with its long, fast corners and how much of a role does experience play in working through that set-up plan? “First of all, with Silverstone you need to see what the weather’s going to be like. It’s Great Britain, you can have a lot of surprises, but that’s the first thing to check. Silverstone completely switches from being a fast circuit to a low speed circuit. Most of the high-speed corners are now either flat out or near flat out, the time you can gain is made into turns three, four, six and seven, and the last chicane – those are the low-speed corners. That’s where you want to be performing very well in a modern car.” What are your favorite Silverstone moments, either from your junior career or from competing in the British Grand Prix throughout your Formula One career? “I’ve had some good moments at Silverstone, some great wins. The 2012 British Grand Prix was quite good fun. I had contact on the first lap, it took my

2020 Hungarian Grand Prix – Preview

14 July 2020
You saw the checkered flag for the first time this season at the Styrian Grand Prix finishing P13. Specifically, what areas of the car had improved in race trim compared to what you experienced the week before in the Austrian Grand Prix? “Compared to last week, I think the cooler track temperatures helped us to get the temperature of the car under control. We still have some work to do on that point, but obviously it was better. We also learned from the set-ups, we changed things from the first week to improve. The car behaved okay for the race. We’re still not as fast as we want to be, but we’ve made some good progress. We now have a solid base from which to start working on for Hungary.” The Hungaroring is another relatively short track, not too dissimilar from the Red Bull Ring. What are the main characteristics of the circuit and what’s the key to a good run there – both in qualifying and then in the race? What do you need from the car in order to be competitive? “Yes, it’s a short circuit, but it’s different in the way that the straight-line is much less important. You can run maximum downforce on the car – that should help the characteristics of the VF-20. You need good tire management over your qualifying run and for the race as well. It’s normally very hot in Hungary at this time of the year. You need to have a car you can trust going into all those fast corners through the middle sector. The last two corners are also very important in order to get a good lap time. That’s actually where I lost pole position back in 2012, I didn’t go as fast as I should have on the last two turns – that’s where you can gain some good time.” You have a mixed history at the Hungaroring in Formula One – tending to either score points (including a third-place podium in 2012) or DNF. Do you think about that history and those results when you start preparing for the weekend or is it a clean-slate each time? “For me, Hungary holds two good memories. Obviously, there’s my first time being on the front-row in qualifying from 2012 – my best qualifying slot to-date. Then in 2013 I should have won the race, but I had a couple of drive-through penalties, but I still finished sixth despite the 50-second penalty. I got home and the next morning my son, Sacha, was born. Hungary’s normally the time of year we celebrate my first son’s birthday. I love the atmosphere there, love the fans, love the circuit. It can be hard on you, it’s a tough one, as I said, it’s very hot normally. But let’s see where we can go this weekend.” Hungary represents the third and final leg of the opening triple-header to start the delayed 2020 season. Knowing there are at least two more triple-header stints
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