What are your thoughts on the Sochi Autodrom ?
It’s pretty unique with some interesting corners so it’s a bit different from the other tracks we visit. The grip level’s pretty good from the track surface too. In terms of layout, turn three seems to go on forever but you’re flat on the throttle. Then there are a lot of corners where it feels you’re braking too late but where the exit opens up and there you have to focus on getting the exit right. You have to be a little bit different in how you approach your driving there.
Looking back on China, was it a crisis when your suspension let go ?
Honestly, it was no drama from behind the wheel ; the suspension collapsed and then we had the puncture. It was all pretty easy to deal with. Of course, it took a long time to repair the car so missing the sessions was the frustrating aspect. Looking out of the window on Saturday morning was frustrating when I saw the rain as we knew the race could well be dry and the first time I drove the final corner in dry conditions in fact was in qualifying !
What did you miss from sitting out most of FP1 and then FP2 too ?
Generally every lap you’re behind the wheel you’re improving yourself and also improving what you know about the car, the circuit and the tyres so you get more and more consistent with every lap. Missing one session is not so bad, but essentially missing two, then having a third session which was wet when the rest of the weekend was dry ? That was less than ideal.
How was your race ?
For us the race was pretty steady and not too eventful. You don’t mind when you have a race like that when you’re near the front, but that wasn’t the case so it won’t go down as one of my more memorable events ! It was a race where everyone finished, so we couldn’t capitalise on better reliability than the opposition. We’re certainly hoping for better things in Russia.
You qualified in sixth and finished fifth in your first Russian Grand Prix in 2014 ; any particular memories ?
I remember that we had a gearbox penalty so we had to work quite hard for that fifth position. It’s always interesting to see a new Grand Prix venue and learn a new track. Would you be better than Jolyon if you tried Cossack dancing ? I’ve seen Jolyon trying Salsa dancing on a beach so I reckon he’d be better than me.
Any other Russian experiences you’d like to share ?
I’ve been there twice with Renault 3.5 and at the Moscow Raceway in 2012 and 2013. I scored a win and a second place both times so Russia hasn’t treated me too badly. I can’t say I know too much about Russian food but I have been told about a Russian drink…