The results will come!
This is the weekend we all have been looking forward to come. The streets of Monte Carlo bring always a little bit extra for all the exciting challenges of motor racing.
It’s a different circuit, we will use different tyres and the environment will be different, so there is nothing to compare to it.
Especially this time it will be even more exciting with these new generation cars. These cars tend to slide easily and in Monte Carlo there is no room for that. Most of all it¹s a question of the best drive of the year the 100% concentration with the 100% working car all the 78 laps of the Grand Prix. That’s the only way to be happy after the race in Monaco. Monaco is a unique circuit and the qualifying is more important than any other circuit on the calender. Obviously for us, the qualifying is something we really have to get right. After last race in Barcelona we had a quite good test. It started with some issues, but all in all, I was happy with the work we managed to do there. The car is getting better for me and step by step we come closer to the front runners.
Obviously I feel the results will be coming, but it seems to take even more tougher pushing than ever before. Now the full focus is on Monaco. It will be extremely busy since the very beginning on Thursday morning. Everybody is targetting to have a nice, clean weekend and you cannot afford to loose any practice time to get the feeling right with the car between those barriers.
It’s a magical place. The paddock is full of people and the atmosphere is just great. Along the years I have experienced how brilliant it is to get everything right in Monaco.
The Barcelona boost
The short break is over. We have had quite a busy time since the last race in China, but now it feels good to get back to racing again.
It’s always a nice boost for everybody, when we get back to Europe. Obviously, you don’t have to travel that much, as it’s only a short way from your home.
I’m not too happy with the results, but as usual, I just look at the next race, not at those we have had, while you cannot change them anymore.
All the time I have been working with my engineer trying to help improve things. But, as I have said earlier, it is not an overnight fix, while there have been certain issues with the front end of the car for my style of driving. We feel that step by step it should be getting where we want it to be.
This is the first time we will go to Barcelona without any pre-season testing at the circuit with the new cars. But as drivers, we know what to expect as there have already been those four races this season.
However, there will be a difference as we now have less downforce with these cars compared to previous years, so certain corners will feel different. We also now have much more torque from the engine.
The team has worked extremely hard to get the car better. Now we will have some interesting running to do on Friday to find out how new things work at the circuit. Let’s hope we will get a clean and good weekend.
The toughest times are behind. It has not been the most solid start to a new season. Obviously, we have not been in a position to fight in the sharpest end of the grid. But every race weekend we have been able to improve slightly our overall performance. That is the main thing so far. It is not the first time the Scuderia Ferrari is in such a challenging situation. The history prooves itself clearly, every time Ferrari has had some problems with the performance at the beginning, it has always come back strongly, and no doubt, it will happen again. There are good people controlling things and taking care of the issues.We know, why our speed has not been in the level of our competitors, the whole factory is working very hard and we will get things sorted out sooner or later.Obviously it has been quite tough first few weeks of the season for us all. We have finished every race with both cars, so it¹s a fact, we have had the reliability, but speedwise we have not been up there so far.It was known. the Bahrain race weekend will be the hardest for us because of the layout of the circuit suiting our competitors better. Now we are heading for a different kind of place. Shanghai circuit should be a little bit better for our car, too.Last year in China I started from the front row and finished the race second, as well. I have always insisted that it does not help a single bit, how the races have been earlier, while every new race differs from the previous ones. So it goes this time, too. We will try our very best to get the best results possible.We will get some new important parts to this race, and hopefully they will give us some more speed and traction. We have to focus on the qualifying, especially we will have to focus on the start, and we need to get a clean first lap finally after having those problems in the last two races. All in all I expect to have the best race weekend so far. Let¹s wait and see, how it starts on Friday morning.
The only way is up
After the preseason testing I had a feeling it won’t be that easy to get all the new things going smoothly right from the beginning of the new season.
Well, that’s what we experienced in Melbourne. We had some teething issues and the whole weekend overall was a very tricky one.
Obviously, while you start the new season with the brand new cars and tyres, the first priority is to get through the race and take the cheaqured flag to finish it. That’s what we managed to do and now we got the first race distance with this car, as well.
In an ideal world you can start your engine and race fine since day one, but this is the real world of Grand Prix racing, and very seldom, hardly never, it happens like in a happy road movie.
I have been around for a long time in this business, so this is not the first time, we didn’t get everything we wanted from the first race weekend. We have certain issues to get solved with setting up the car for me. All in all we managed to get it better day by day, but it was not enough for me to be able to challenge the top guys.
We know what we should do and how to put certain things on the car to get better grip and traction. We know it won’t happen overnight as well. So we have to be patient now and focus on our own work only.
At the same time we are sure, that if we manage to do everything right in the next race weekend in Malaysia, the results are going to be stronger too.
In Malaysia we will get new challenges for these new packages. I am not that big fan of the heat out there. Obviously it is same for everybody and this race weekend will be done in very demanding circumstances as usual.
Fresh and excited to start again
Every spring it feels the same to start a new season. Nevertheless how the tests have gone, you feel fresh and excited to race again after the long winter break.
Obviously, for me it’s not that new experience anymore after spending more than a decade in this business. But this time we are heading for brand new power units with the brand new regulations. So it’s a kind of step into unknown territory for everyone.
My winter break felt shorter than usual. It was only a matter of getting healed and getting fit. I had to stop last season in the beginning of November to have my back fixed with a operation in France. Everything went well and I was able to start training normally in time.
To start the new season in a new team gives you always some kind of extra motivation and, for me, obviously going back to Ferrari means a lot as a racing driver.
Visiting the factory in Maranello has showed me how big a push there is to get us back to the very top again. There are still some familiar faces from my previous period with Ferrari, and some new ones as well. That is how it goes in every top team. People come and go.
The main focus now is to start developing the car to work better and better with the all the new systems that there are to use. The preseason testing was not that good for me. I could not drive as many miles as we planned, while with these new parts every small issue takes more time to be fixed compared to last year.
But the good thing was that there were no major issues with the car. It’s impossible to say where we are before the first qualifying session, but this weekend will tell more. We try our very best and hopefully we are able to finish the race with a good result.
The Judgement Day I have experienced a lot during my days in Formula One. But the surprise we got in Abu Dhabi after the good qualifying session was a very new happening to me. We had the car to go well in one lap, as well as to have a good race speed. I was not able to get a 100% lap in qualifying, but it was good enough to put us in P5 on the grid. I was pretty happy with it untill we found out, there is going to be a penalty for us. There was a heavy shunt to the floor while we went over the kerb in the first run. There was no way to avoid the crash, but we never ever expected it to cause the misery for the race, as well. The stewards ruled us out of the results. Then we had to start from the back of the grid. In a place like Abu Dhabi, it means it was a very, very tricky race to try to come back in a points winning position. We had to start from the grid, as it was the supposed to be the quickest way to recover some positions. Obviously, it didn¹t work out. After the start I went for the inside line, then we touched with the Caterham. It was just a light touch, but hard to enough to break the steering column. That¹s about it from the last two races. We have had some luck many times during these two seasons, but in Abu Dhabi I felt like all the luck had gone and everything went against us. But this is motor racing. You have to be prepared to accept everything is possible!
Keep on racing!
I feel good. After all the difficulties we had in Singapore, the race itself was one of the very best we have had this season. It was a certain battle victory. It felt like winning to finish third and to get back in the podium.
Obviously, I want to win every time I put my helmet on, but still, it felt good to have such an inspiring race after such a terrible practise and qualifying. It’s a great circuit and a great atmosphere to race, that’s for sure.
Now we still have six more race weekends ahead of us. The main thing is to focus on the racing only. I don’t want to think too much about what will happen next week, next month, or next year. 2014 starts only in 2014 for me.
After Singapore we have now the challenge of Korea. After a lively city of Singapore, this place doesn’t feel as exciting, but the track itself is good, and of course, that is the key factor for the drivers.
It’s a high downforce circuit, which should be good for our car. After Spa and Monza every circuit should be better for us and, at least, in Singapore the car felt very strong. Well, the Red Bull of Sebastian is far ahead of everyone, but our car is good enough to fight for the podium, and that’s a good starting point for the last races of the season.
During the short break I had a short rest, then I trained and took time to visit to see our team ICE1 RACING in the Nations’ Cup competition of motocross.
Now we have back-to-back races in Korea and Japan. I like both circuits, my back is still with me, and I’m ready for the new challenges. It will be a challenge to meet again the most passionate fans of the world in Japan, as well.