2020 Russian Grand Prix – Preview
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.”