"It’s fantastic to be at Silverstone when the weather is good and the fans are all out. The high speed corners here should suit us better".
How do you like Silverstone?
It’s a fantastic track with a lot of high speed corners which should suit the E22 a lot better than the circuits we’ve visited recently which have seemed to jump on every weakness with our current package.
How frustrating was the gearbox issue which put you to the back of the grid in Austria?
I would be lying if I said it wasn’t frustrating! It was one of those things where an electronic part argued with a mechanical part and I ended up starting from the pit lane as a result. In a way that gives you an auto reset as anything you achieve in the race is a benefit so I got my head down and did the best I could, even if there were other gremlins trying to attack me in the car too.
How was the performance on track?
Austria really didn’t play to our strengths, but then we did see other teams in similar situations. We had brake issues so it was a race where I had to stay focused on what I was doing and every lap seemed like a new experience as you never knew quite what to expect!
What do you think of Silverstone?
I won there in the GP2 Series in 2011, so I have to say I quite like it! I scored points there in my F1 debut but then last year my race wasn’t so good there. This means I must be due a good result.
Why is Silverstone rated as one of the favourite circuits for many drivers?
Silverstone is challenging, but it has a good feel. It’s one of the quickest tracks of the year. There are corners which are legendary like the Magotts, Becketts, Chapel complex. It’s quite a feeling going through there and I can’t wait to feel that sensation once more. It’s also a special Grand Prix for the team as the factory is very close to the track. It’s always nice to see not only the race team, but also some of the many people from the factory come to see us out in action. It’s thanks to all their hard work that we’re out on track and they are all doing an amazing job, always working so hard. I will be in the factory before and after the race so it really does have a feeling of a home event.
How is it as a driver visiting the factory?
It’s still a magical experience as you know there are so many people and so many resources just to make two cars that you and your team-mate will race around the world. It’s such a privileged position to be in and everyone at every level in Enstone does an amazing job. For sure, this year has been difficult as our performance has not been where we want it to be, but everyone gets their heads down and keeps working towards getting us to our goal.
What’s easy about a Silverstone weekend?
It’s not far to go from home so I can sleep in my own bed and be with my family. It’s nice to have a Grand Prix where you don’t have to visit an airport and it’s nice to be close to the factory where you know everyone is working their hardest to give you the best car possible.
What is difficult about a Silverstone weekend?
Over the years there’s been quite a bit of wet weather over the weekend, and this was not so much of a surprise to the Englishmen I’ve spoken to! I live quite near to the track now and my experience of regularly visiting Enstone means that I know the weather can change quite a lot. An English summer’s day is wonderful, but sometimes you have to look hard to find one! That said, it’s looked pretty good so far this year. Certainly, it’s fantastic to be at Silverstone when the weather is good and the fans are all out.
"This will be my first home Grand Prix for Lotus F1 Team. I’ve always really liked Silverstone".
What are your thoughts of the British Grand Prix?
I’ve won at Silverstone in the GP2 Series and I’ve always really liked the circuit. I’ve spent so much time in England that it’s like a second home to me, especially as I have family who live very close to the circuit in Oxfordshire. It’s a great event coming mid-season and it always provides an interesting race. It’s always a very special event for the teams based nearby and the support all drivers get there is amazing with some of the most knowledgeable fans in the world. This will be my first home Grand Prix for Lotus F1 Team so I’m looking forward to racing just down the road from the factory and seeing many familiar faces over the weekend.
What do you think of Silverstone as a circuit?
I think that Silverstone is an amazing track. It has a great history, it’s fast and the change to the most recent layout hasn’t really changed the nature of the track too much. It’s always a special place to visit and you know that you’re always there for the racing as it’s not on the doorstep of a big city. I have always enjoyed racing at Silverstone since my first visit back in 2007. I also have good memories of it as I have had some great races there, including winning in both 2009 and 2010 in the GP2 Series.
Which parts of the circuit do you like in particular?
My favourite corner is Becketts as it is really quick through there. I think the track will suit our car because it’s similar to Barcelona and it’s also very fun to drive with sections like Maggots and Becketts which really test you as a driver.
What about the feeling of racing somewhere which so many teams call home?
Certainly, it’s home for many, many people who work in the paddock and you do get a special feeling there. The support you get from the fans is amazing.
What particular challenges could you face at Silverstone?
With the track being quick and the temperatures usually low it is easy to grain the front tyres and this is something we will have to manage and consider when deciding on the pit stop strategy. Certainly, we’re always asking for more power and better reliability this year and this is something I hope we can experience in England.
What did you learn in Austria?
The team and Renault Sport F1 hopefully learnt quite a lot and for me behind the wheel it was a challenge. There were many issues to manage, but we but we drove through them to get to the end of the race. This year’s cars give you a lot to manage in terms of settings and driving strategies, so there is a lot to focus on when everything is working as it should. There’s even more to focus on when something’s not working the way it should! Quite a few teams were caught out with issues in Austria so it was satisfying for me and the team to get to the end of the race.
What’s the approach to the British Grand Prix?
Like always, just to maximise the package we have and make the very most of every opportunity. Hopefully the high speed corners will work better with our car and it would be great to be back to where we were in Barcelona which is quite a similar circuit to Silverstone. Obviously, at the Barcelona test teams were all running to different programmes, so I don’t think we’re suddenly going to be the fastest car, but I do expect to be further up the order than we have been at recent races.