How have you recovered from the disappointing weekend in Abu Dhabi?
Well, you just have to put it behind you and concede that it really was a very poor weekend. In one sense we knew we would be up against it; the Yas Marina Circuit was always going to be a circuit that the R31 would struggle to with. In the race, we struggled with a KERS failure, drive through penalty and generally a car that was not on the money. Strategically we took a gamble that didn’t pay off. I certainly think that overall in Abu Dhabi my pace was as good as it could have been. For Brazil we will need to have an improved baseline to ensure a better race weekend.
It’s all eyes to Brazil now – not only the last race of the season but your home race…
I am very excited about racing in my homeland. I did, in fact, travel straight to Brazil from Abu Dhabi to prepare for everything. It’s going to be another difficult race because of the type of circuit we are facing. It’s a classic track, and it’s my home race which will make it extra special but there are also some long, slow corners in the mid-section of the track. We will have to prepare fully to give ourselves the best chance of success there. One thing is for sure – people will remember the last race of the season and how we perform in that. That will be the lingering thought for many as we enter 2012, so we want to end the season on a positive note.
You say you went straight to Brazil – how much extra is there to contend with at your home race?
I headed straight to Brazil from the Middle East. There will be a lot going on during race week. I have a number of PR and sponsor commitments leading into the race weekend; these are additional things to my normal race weekend, but I’m doing most of this ahead of the Thursday so I can begin my race preparations as I would do at any other track. Certainly, there will be the fan presence too. I’m well aware that I’m going to have a great level of support and that will undoubtedly help me as I look to secure a good result for the team.
Talk a bit more about the fans – you have a very special relationship with F1 fans in general, not to mention Brazilian F1 fans…
Yes, I know the fans will be great there. I learnt last year that they gave me a lot of care, a lot of passion and I would love to reciprocate that by putting in a result to be proud of in the black and gold livery. The flags will be waving for us Brazilian drivers on the grid, and that will be an extremely nice feeling.
Looking at your season as a whole – it must have been a good step forward for you…
It has. I’ve been learning, I’ve been improving and working with the engineers to get the most out of the car. We have been working on some different strategies, and some haven’t paid off. Other teams have taken strides forward that we have not, and we have paid for that in terms of results. This is all part of the learning curve I’ve been on, and I’m sure we can use what we have learnt to take ourselves forward.
What conclusions can you draw from Abu Dhabi?
I did like the track but the trend of slower tracks not clicking with the R31 has repeated itself. To qualify P12 was almost the maximum we could have done and we were satisfied with that result. We also tried out a number of things in preparation for next year, so this should be taken into consideration as well. The race was quite difficult for us because from the beginning my DRS failed; it was quite a frustrating race because the pace was just not good enough to be able to overtake other cars and to score points. We knew that the Yas Marina circuit may not favour our car but still, that was not what we were looking for.
You seemed very upset after the race in Abu Dhabi…
Let’s just say that I acted a bit stupidly. I was very disappointed, very tired, I had to answer a lot of questions and somehow I didn’t handle it correctly. But I had a chat with the team later on and everything is now OK.
This is the last race of your second season with LRGP – what are your assessments of the year?
It started very positively for me. Finishing third in Australia was a big boost for both me and the team. After that I was fighting high up the grid in pretty much every race and we scored a lot of points – not nearly enough though. Next year I want to achieve a lot more, and we are already working hard to take another step forward. We have all been disappointed with our performance this year but we understood the tyres and tactics, and I believe we will be much more confident going into the next campaign.
What are your thoughts for Brazil?
It is not easy to set up the car for Interlagos. When you think you are on the limit you try to push a little further, especially at turns six and seven which are very, very special. The challenge here is to set up the car well and to have the car fully prepared for Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes it rains, like it did last year when the visibility and aquaplaning were incredible, but the track is still safe enough to drive well on. People just love coming here. Interlagos is a very lively track due to the nature of the straight with the tiny bends which givee you a chance to find the slipstream. Brazil will be a very special race.
What are your plans for 2012?
I am here to achieve and to reach my targets. Generally, I feel good. Throughout my first two years, I have always felt I’ve been improving but maybe less so than at the very beginning. I am still learning how to work with the team and how to get the car to work for me. I am still not yet at 100 percent, but it is difficult to ever be. First things first, I must give Brazil my best shot. Then, I will look at next year.
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