Russia 2018 - GP Preview - Toro Rosso Honda
“I raced in Sochi in GP2 twice, coming second in the feature race in 2015, but it was a while ago, so it’s three years since I last drove there. I also raced at the Moscow Raceway circuit in Renault 2 litre and 3.5. That gave me the chance to be a bit of a tourist, visiting Red Square and some of the other sites and it’s pretty impressive. That’s one of the nice side effects of doing this job, that you get to see parts of the world you might not otherwise. Sochi is a relatively new venue and an unusual place, as it was home to the winter Olympics. The atmosphere around the outside of the circuit is strange, as there’s nothing much around it except the former Olympic village. Many of the corners are quite similar in nature, but the final part of the lap especially is pretty technical. Will the Sochi circuit suit us? That’s hard to tell as recent races have not always gone as we expected. It would be satisfying to get a good result here, not just in itself, but to give us a boost before going to Suzuka the following week for Honda’s home race.”
And about Japan:
“Japan will feel a bit like my second home as I spent so much time there last year, when I was racing in Super Formula with Honda. It was a special season with great memories from the actual racing and also away from the circuits. It’s a country I really like for its culture, the mentality of the people and the way they think. I think it was very useful working with Honda last year, as I got an understanding of how they go about things, which is proving useful to me this season. Going back there as a Formula 1 driver and with Honda is something I can’t wait to experience. We have a busy schedule visiting various Honda facilities before we get to Suzuka, which will be interesting. I hope we can go well there to thank all the Japanese fans for their support. I loved racing at Suzuka, it’s one of the great tracks. The first section in particular with the run of “Esses” is a fantastic challenge, one of the best bits of track we race on all year. It’s very fast and you can really test the limits of the car. It will also be emotional for me, returning there after what happened to Jules (Bianchi). Whenever I go to Suzuka, I always go and visit the spot where he had his accident.
“I’ve only ever been to Russia for a marketing event and that involved being there for less than 24 hours, so the weekend will be an interesting experience for me. Therefore, this will be another new track for me and last week I drove it in the simulator. It’s fair to say, our Singapore performance was not what we wanted so we will be working hard back in the factory to try and find ways of moving forward. It’s a case of hitting the re-set button, while building on the positive aspects with the aim of looking for points in Sochi.”
And about Japan:
“Suzuka is definitely one of the highlights on the calendar and everyone in Formula 1 talks about the track, especially the high speed sector 1, where you really push these modern Formula 1 cars to their limit and I expect this sector will be the place where the current cars feel the most impressive. In the past, I’ve driven Suzuka on F1 simulators and I did so again last week in preparation for this race, which will be the first time I actually drive the track. I have raced four times in Japan in the World Endurance Championship, but it’s always been at the Fuji circuit. I had some success there, with one win and a couple of third places and I always enjoyed experiencing the passion of the Japanese fans. I’m expecting a huge amount of support in Suzuka for Honda and Toro Rosso. I’m looking forward to it, because I always enjoy spending time in Japan; I love the food and the culture and hanging out with the people there. We’re heading to Japan immediately after Sochi, with a busy schedule of visiting Honda’s F1 facility in Sakura, as well as other factories. Being Honda powered, it will be an important race for us and I hope we can put on a good show and deliver some points for the Japanese fans and the all the Honda guys.”