Q. Kimi, are you looking forward to the Canadian Grand Prix?
I have always liked the Canadian Grand Prix. I won there in 2005 so Montreal has good memories. The city is one of the best places to visit on the calendar. I really enjoy the stop-start nature of the circuit layout and the challenge of the track.
Q. What challenges in particular do you like?
It’s an interesting place. Qualifying is important, but not essential to get a good result as there are a few places to overtake. To do well in Canada the car needs to be good under braking because it’s very tough on brakes at this circuit. You also make use of the kerbs and our car has been pretty good in this area. It’s also a circuit with different track surfaces and sometimes the surface itself can change over the course of the race weekend. This is interesting as it means different grip levels, so another challenge there.
Q. It’s another street course – are there any changes to your approach because of this?
It’s a street course, but there are still places to overtake so you don’t have to change all of your focus to qualifying like you do in Monaco. It is a race that sees a lot of safety cars; there has probably not been a Canadian Grand Prix without having a safety car. Most likely it will happen again. A safety car makes it difficult for the strategy as you can’t predict when it might come. If the safety car is employed, then you have got to hope that it happens at the right time.
Q. Do you think the track will suit the E20?
We’ve been competitive in most places and we expect the same there, but like always it’s easier to say after the first day of running…
Q. Monaco didn’t go quite to plan…
That’s racing. Ninth was the best we could do on the day. I didn’t start in a great position and I had some difficulties during the race so it wasn’t the easiest weekend, but at least we got a couple of points. It’s better than nothing but not exactly what we wanted. If we can have a bad race like that and still take two points it’s not the end of the world. Picking up points like this when we’re not at our best could make a big difference at the end of the season.
Q. Does the disappointment of Monaco change your focus looking to the rest of the season?
One race doesn’t change the fact that we have been pretty strong everywhere – even at Monaco during most of the weekend. Monaco is completely different from any other track and I don’t think we should worry too much about the fact that it wasn’t our best weekend.
Q. How is your progress working on the steering set-up with the team?
We tried something different for the special challenge of Monaco and it didn’t work for me. It’s impossible to test how something will work at Monaco without going to Monaco. We’re not allowed open testing and the roads would be too busy for a Formula 1 car anyway. I’m happy with the basic setup, though it’s still an area I’m working on with the team.
Q. There have been six winners from six races so far this season. Can you make it seven from seven?
We’ve been quick everywhere and we’ve been on the podium. It’s difficult to get everything exactly right at the right time, which is what you have to do to win a Grand Prix. I’ve won races with other teams and I have a good feeling that Lotus are capable of strong results. Our day will come.
Q. How are you approaching the Canadian Grand Prix?
It will be my first time in Canada so it’s another new experience for me this year. Obviously this means it’s also going to be my first time driving the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. I’m looking forward to it because it’s a track which many drivers have told me they like. It’s also a track which can bite you, and we’ve seen that over the years with the champions’ wall. Even though I’m not a Formula 1 champion, I’ll be giving that part of the track some respect!
Q. How do you bounce back from a disappointing Monaco Grand Prix?
Up until the race itself the Monaco Grand Prix was very promising. We had strong pace all weekend, even if qualifying wasn’t quite as good as it might have been. It certainly could have been worse, but we were slightly disappointed with qualifying in fifth. The race itself was very short for me. I didn’t get the greatest start, and it’s so crowded off the line in Monaco that sometimes there just isn’t enough room. In this case there wasn’t and my race ended. After a difficult day like that you want to jump straight back into the car and have a proper race! Let’s hope that is the case in Canada and we can show what we are capable of!
Q. How did you feel when you joined the engineers whilst the race was still running?
For sure it was frustrating. In fact, it took me a couple of days to get rid of my disappointment from Monaco. It was such an early exit and it was my home race where I really wanted to go well in front of all the fans. We had the car to be able to be challenge for a strong result. Everyone knows this, but that’s motor racing sometimes.
Q. You don’t seem to have had too much difficulty coming to terms with new circuits this year. Is there any secret to this?
Over the last few years I seem to have always been learning new circuits so I guess I must have a pretty good approach to it! This season it helps that the E20 is such a forgiving car and we have a very good baseline setup which means we can quickly look at refining it and finding more pace rather than trying to compensate for any chassis imbalance or difficult handling characteristics from the car. I work very closely with the team and my engineers to understand all the requirements of a new circuit, and there are always aspects of one track which can be likened to another. Ultimately, you just have to get out there and drive fast.
Q. What do you know about the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve?
It’s a street circuit and normally I enjoy street circuits – I was right on the pace in Monaco. I enjoy the sensation of being close to the walls. There are really long straights and some big braking moments. The track surface can also present challenges as we’ve seen in other seasons, so it will be interesting to see what the grip level is like for myself. Finally, the weather in Montreal can be quite changeable, as we saw last year. I’m sure it’ll be a challenging and exciting Grand Prix.
Q. Does Canada present any particular challenges being a long haul amidst the European season?
I arrive on Monday to beat the jet lag. Sometimes that challenge in itself and getting decent sleep can be as hard to solve as finding the right setup for the car! I’m looking forward to discovering more of Montreal, learning the track, and hopefully getting some good sleep at the right time too!
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