What are your thoughts on Sochi?
For me the best thing about Russia is that I won the first ever GP2 Series race there and that race won me the championship so I have very good memories of the Sochi Autodrom! It was a very good race, I got a great start so led from the first lap and won but was under a lot of pressure all the way. It’s great to win any race, but to win a race where you’ve had pressure at every turn, that’s a real achievement. Because I won that race I won the championship so that’s why I have some very good memories of Sochi.
How different is it racing an F1 car rather than a GP2 Series car?
F1 is much more complicated with the different tyre specifications, bigger degradation with the tyres, fuel consumption considerations and energy management – so there’s a lot to think about. GP2 is a lot more raw: you get in and drive the car whereas with Formula 1 there is a lot more to think about, whilst at the same time you have to drive at the limit against the best drivers in the world.
How was the China debrief?
It wasn’t pretty and we’re analysing to make sure we can learn every lesson possible from the weekend. It was certainly a weekend where we struggled so we’re doing everything to understand why. We’ve made good progress and what we can achieve is certainly better than what we saw in Shanghai. From my perspective, I’m still learning what exactly I need from this car at different tracks, on different tyres and in different conditions. We’ve made some good progress dissecting and understanding and this should translate to improvement on track in due course.
What are your targets for Sochi?
My first aim is to get back to a Melbourne level of performance where I was happy with the car. As a team too, we were happy with the level of performance as we were through to Q2 in qualifying and near the points in the race with both cars quite evenly matched. I haven’t been able to replicate that in the last couple of races so that’s what we’ve been focusing on. We know that Russia won’t necessarily be the very best circuit for us, but I’m focused on my own performance to extract the very most I can from behind the wheel.
Aside of the Sochi Autodrom, what other knowledge do you have of Russia?
I am aware of some Russian drinks so hopefully we can achieve something in Sochi that warrants at least a small celebration.
Would you give Cossack dancing a try?
I don’t even know what it is so clearly I’d be no good, yet, so maybe I should learn…