France 2019 - GP preview - Toro Rosso
“I am looking forward to driving a Formula 1 car around the Paul Ricard circuit for the first time, and I feel our performance there could be better than in the last race in Montreal. We took the long view in Canada, when it was clear that we weren’t at the most competitive level, so we had to put together a smart race. I had quite a big fight to stay in the points and in the end we managed it. The last laps I pushed really hard to overtake the McLaren and I squeezed everything out of the car. Just a single point is still a confidence boost for the team as we start a really busy run of races in Europe.
I’ve raced at Paul Ricard before, but it was a long time ago – 2011 in Formula Renault Eurocup. I came second in one race and third in the other and I think the layout we used then was more or less the same as this weekend’s, although one corner was different. I don’t remember much about the circuit from all those years back and a Formula Renault is very different to an F1 car. Of course, I’ve tackled the track in the simulator, but I am keen to get out on track on Friday and learn it as quickly as possible.
Ricard is a quick track and, like in Canada, straightline speed will not be the least important thing, but there are also plenty of quick corners and a technical section. So we will try and optimise our package to that circuit and get the very most out of it, just as we have done in recent races.”
“I’m really looking forward to racing at Le Castellet because it feels as though I haven’t done a race for a month, given that my Canadian Grand Prix was over on the first lap. There’s not much to say about it except that at least it’s another box ticked, in that I’d never driven the Montreal track before. I really enjoyed the circuit and the city, so I hope to have a better time there next year.
Paul Ricard is actually a track I know fairly well, as I raced there quite a bit in the junior formulas, making it one of the circuits where I have driven the most. It features on the calendars for lots of categories. It’s a very modern facility with big run-off areas and coloured stripes, where the paint man went a bit crazy! It means we leave behind the street circuits that I love best.
Last year, I qualified second and retired with an engine problem in the feature race and went from last to P7 in the second race. I enjoyed driving the track and the Signes corner should be impressive in an F1 car, so I’m sure I’ll feel it on my neck. It’s one of the highest energy corners on the whole calendar. On a qualifying lap it should be fun, especially as it’s a bit cambered.
I think this track will suit our car better than Montreal, Ricard has some similarities with Barcelona and we were quite competitive there. So, we can go to the French Grand Prix with a sense of optimism. I like that part of the world, the scenery is great, so let’s hope they’ve sorted the traffic getting in and out!”