Eifel GP 2020 - GP preview - AlphaTauri
"First of all, I have to admit I’m sad that Honda is leaving Formula 1 after the experiences we shared together over the past four years. The people at Honda have played an important role in my career and I have always loved working with them. But we will still be together until the end of next year and I hope we can try and fight for more wins together before then, and that Honda will be in a position to fight for the championship title.
"Looking ahead to Germany, we go to the Nürburgring knowing we performed well in Russia, even if the race itself on Sunday did not go as well as it could have for me. We qualified well and got into Q3, but that can sometimes work against you, as you have to start with the worn Soft tyres you used in Q2, which forces us to stop very early and find ourselves in traffic for the second stint. Nevertheless, we showed good pace, especially when running in clean air and we gambled a bit with the virtual safety car, but it didn’t pay off. I had some good fights, although I think P7 might have been on the cards.
"I reckon the last time I raced at the Nürburgring was in 2014 in the 3.5 Formula. It’s a track I really appreciate as it’s pretty technical, with a special mix of corners, some slow and medium-speed where you can get into a rhythm. Then there’s the downhill braking at the first corner, which can be tricky. To sum it up, it’s an interesting lap and not that straightforward to get right. It seems as though it’s going to be cold, which is not surprising there. That’s not a problem, except when you are sitting in the car in practice in the garage waiting to go out. Then you start to feel the cold. But it will be a different story for the tyres and it will be complicated to get them up to temperature. I’d quite like it to rain as we haven’t had many races in the rain. Overtaking is not that easy so it will be important to qualify well, and with none of us having been there for a while, we will have to do plenty of work in free practice to find the right set-up compromise as quickly as possible. It will be a nice challenge for everyone."
"Looking back to Russia, I am quite pleased with how my home race went, even if it was a bit frustrating being stuck behind a slower car for the second half of the race. But we scored good points for the team and my race pace was very strong. I’d also forgotten how cool it is to have fans in the grandstands. Those races without fans made me appreciate it even more and before the race, I was quite pumped to see the crowd and hear them saying my name. I have to say, I have seen the importance of the crowd in a different light this year.
"In general, I have been satisfied with my performance lately, which since Spa has been on the up and up all the time. I’m quite happy with the way my engineers and I have developed our understanding of what we need to do to be competitive. Sochi was just another step in the right direction, so for the Nürburgring, we intend to keep learning and pushing hard.
"I haven’t raced at the Nürburgring for quite a while: seven years in fact since I was there in GP3. It’s a very cool, classic old-school track, with a lot of history and I’m excited about going back there. The weather has been a talking point and it does seem as though it might be quite cold there. It will be intriguing because, although we have encountered it in testing at times, we have never really had a race in extremely cold conditions. All we can hope for is that it doesn’t snow!
"It’s an enjoyable track to drive, although there is no particular section that stands out. It’s interesting, with a couple of slow chicanes and high-speed ones too. Turn 1 can be a bit tricky, especially on the opening lap as you are braking downhill with quite a gradient. There are several ways of tackling it and you need to find a good line.
"In terms of how our car will perform this weekend, we saw some encouraging signs in Russia and if it continues there is always a chance to do quite well. Hopefully, we won’t be caught out by the conditions. Some other teams in the midfield are very competitive, but we are always somewhere in that mix.
"I was surprised to hear the news that Honda will leave F1 at the end of next year. It is sad on a human level as I enjoy working with their engineers, and disappointing from a racing point of view because they have worked so hard to give us the best possible power unit and we have seen it deliver some excellent results so far. The Honda guys at the track are really committed and I’m sure they will continue to push while they are still in the sport."
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