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2020 Portuguese Grand Prix – Preview

20 October 2020
The Eifel Grand Prix, courtesy of the weather, was effectively a two-day race weekend. Did you enjoy the challenge of the shortened program and how does it impact your preparation for both qualifying and the race? “Yes, I thought it was actually quite fun – it was good preparation for Imola. In life, a mix of things is good, and I think those two-day weekends are quite exciting. But the three-day weekends are also quite good, so I think a mix of both could be a nice way forward in the future. Obviously, you get less information, mainly going into the race because you haven’t really had the chance to try all the tires – so you need to get creative going into the race. In qualifying, if you manage to get out of Q1 then you usually manage to find some good pace in Q2 because you just have a bit more running going on.” You took time to state on the radio in practice how enjoyable it was to drive the Nürburgring. You’re a fan of many of the old-school circuits so where else would you love to drive a modern Formula 1 car? “I’m really enthusiastic about those old circuits. It’s just the character of the circuits – the kerbs are different, the radius, the camber, the undulation. I think all those things together, it’s quite attractive in all the circuits I really like. Normally they’ve got a lot of elevation, a lot of camber, different types of kerbs. Magny Cours could be quite nice in Formula 1. It’s obviously very tricky to overtake, but it could be a very nice circuit. This year with our calendar, I think we’re racing at a lot of different circuits that are really good. I think we’re really covering most of the top circuits.” You scored your first points of the season at the Nürburgring with a ninth-place finish at the checkered. What was the key to keeping the VF-20 in the top 10 and just how hard did you have to work to keep tire temperatures up after the safety car period? “We decided to go for a different strategy from most of the field. The first stint was key for us – we kept the medium tires alive for 28 laps without losing too much pace. We did that very well. We pitted, changing from an initial two-stop plan, to basically a medium to hard tire race. Before the race we didn’t think we’d use the hard tires because they were far too hard for us. But actually, they worked really well, especially in free air at the beginning. Obviously, behind the safety car was always going to be a disadvantage, especially against the runners behind me on new tires, Hulkenberg and Gasly on softs and new softs. Because we could un-lap ourselves, I was just able to generate enough tire temperature – so it wasn’t too bad at the restart. I could keep the rest of the

2020 Eifel Grand Prix – Preview

5 October 2020
Recent Formula 1 races have brought much talk about track limits and track design. Do you feel there should be more consultation with drivers on such topics? “Yes, I think so. I think track design is very important for the show, and to the drivers and fans. Obviously, some tracks have been absolutely amazing while others have been a little less attractive as such. I think maybe there could be a way where we all work together and make sure that things could get better. We’ve seen tracks like Mugello which are absolutely amazing, where it’s a bit old style, and I think there’s merit to look at those circuits for reference.” The Nürburgring, while new to some of the field, is a track you’re familiar with – notably for your third-place podium finish at the 2013 German Grand Prix.  Is real-world track experience an advantage in this day-and-age of simulators, and if yes, how specifically? “To be fair, 2013 was a very long time ago, so I’m not really sure that’s an advantage. I don’t really remember the track more than that. So, obviously it’s going to be a bit of challenge to learn it. I haven’t had the chance to do it on the simulator. I’ll just have to go with my memory. I know it’s a mega track. The biggest challenge there will be the weather.” Going back to that 2013 German Grand Prix – was it a case of job well done coming away with a trophy or is it a case of what might have been in terms of challenging for the win that day? “I was very happy with my weekend, but I should have won the race. It was pretty clear I was going to win the race until the safety car. Yes, a podium finish is always mega, but missing out on the win was a big thing – I really had a big lead. No hard feelings though, it was a good race on a great track, and obviously a podium in Formula 1 is always super good.” Describe a lap of the Nürburgring and what the highlights will be there in terms of hustling a modern-spec Formula 1 car around it. “I think the biggest challenge in a modern Formula 1 car will be sector one, because of the weight of the car and the camber and so on. The first hairpin, there’s that big drop at the apex, then turn three is a long corner combined with turn four. It’s obviously hard on the tires. The second sector is much more flowing with mid to high-speed corners. The bottom hairpin, which actually looks like a bulb, it’s really mega going up flat-out. The last two corners are very important for lap time, with the chicane and final turn, it’s quite open and quite wild. I think it’s going to be a pretty cool place to go racing.”

2020 Russian Grand Prix – Preview

22 September 2020
The issue of restarts and safety was prevalent after the Tuscan Grand Prix. Having had some time to digest all that happened in the race – what are your thoughts on how events played out and what, if anything, could be done to ensure such incidents are avoided? “If you look from our onboard cameras, it looked like the whole field accelerated then slowed down. That’s really what I felt at first. Then when you look from the outside cameras, obviously it’s much less clear as Valtteri (Bottas) kept a slow speed at the front. I think some tried to get the momentum, but then realized they were a bit too quick and had to slow down. Little-by-little, the whole field, by the time you were in P18, 19 or 20, it just became a long acceleration followed by big braking. I think that was a surprise for all of us. We couldn’t do much about it. I don’t know what to say to avoid this incident. Maybe, possibly, thinking of restarting the race at the safety car line – which is much earlier on the straight line and therefore we’re not having the risk of having the whole straight slower. I don’t know if that’s even going to work.” The consensus seemed to be that the Mugello circuit was a popular stop on this year’s revised Formula One schedule. Would you like to see some flexibility in Formula One’s calendar with circuits like Mugello rotated into the line-up every couple of years for added variety? “Definitely, yes. I think this year, with having a different calendar, it’s really brought the spotlight on some circuits. My personal view is that there’s merit in swapping one year with the typical calendar, with one that’s more like this year, and back again. That way we wouldn’t have the same routine.” Looking ahead to the Russian Grand Prix – what do you need from the car’s setup to attack the characteristics of the Sochi Autodrom? Which elements pose the biggest challenge technically? “I think technically it’s a circuit that’s very smooth, and therefore not easy to generate the grip on the tire. That’s been an issue in the past few years. Hopefully this year we’re in a much better place. It’s again a circuit where you need to mix the very long straight line and the flat-out turn three, and the much more technical part at the end of the lap when you need more downforce. Drag versus top-speed is always the key at Sochi.” What’s your favorite part of the circuit to drive and from your time racing there, what’s your best Russian Grand Prix moment? “I think my best moment at the Russian Grand Prix was my first race there with Haas in 2016 – we finished P8. My favorite part of the circuit would be turns four, five, six, seven and eight. It’s quite a cool section and you carry some good speed.”

2020 Tuscan Grand Prix – Preview

8 September 2020
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
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