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.
Saturday Night Fever
I’m happy that my racing career in Formula One will go on with Ferrari in 2014. Hopefully we all can now focus on this season only. There are seven race weekends left, and so we have good time to get some more good results with Lotus Team.
Now we can concentrate on getting the best we can in every single race without thinking of the championship at the same time.
Obviously, Singapore, will be the hottest of them all. It’s a really challenging race and considered as one of TOP3 Grands Prix of the calendar.
I like this night-time race weekend a lot, although I have never had a good race there in that really bumby street circuit with the lights.
We have had some good results in Monaco and I was last year in the podium in Valencia, as well. I like the street circuits, and I’m looking forward to get a TOP3 result, in Singapore, too, while that podium I have never visited before.
We have a good car for the high downforce tracks, but, obviously, to get a good result in a street circuit, you need to qualify high up to have a good race, too.
In Singapore we need to have our best shot for high grid position. That is the only way to avoid joining up the queue behind the leaders of the race.
So it will be a real Saturday night fever for us to get the best qualifying of the season at eight o’clock…
Back-to-back – not too bad
The back-to-back British and German Grands Prix are done. We got 28 points altogether from these two, and that brought us a little bit closer to the leaders. So not too bad but it could have been better, obviously, much better even…
We had a disappointing qualifying session in Silverstone. Then the weather improved for the race day, and so did our car, as well.
It was a race filled with all kind of happenings. We didn’t have that many problems with the tyres, but, at the end of the day, we should have tried different strategies for the last laps of the race.
It could have been an easy podium finish. Now we lost three positions in the last few laps and got only P5. Sebastian Vettel had to stop because of a technical problem and he was left without any points. That was a good opportunity to come much closer than we managed to do.
In Germany the weather in a race day was even better. We had a good weekend overall. The qualifying could have been a couple of tenths better, so we could have been right behind the front row. Now we started forth and then stuck behind Mercedes for a few laps.
The race went well. We had the speed to fight for the top place. The problem with the radio was causing problems right while we would have needed it the most. The options between staying on and race until the finish with the used prime tyre was a risky one, but very tempting, as well. We took the other way and changed the option tyre for the last stint.
It brought us home in the P2. It’s good to finish in a podium, especially in Germany for me, but this time it could have been better, too. We didn’t have any issues with the car and with the tyres.
The warm weather suits us very well. Let’s hope it will be hot in Hungary, too. It’s still a long season and there is no reason to start focussing on anything else but winning.
Back to normal
The season so far has not been that bad for me. Monaco was a certain disaster, but, obviously, you cannot escape weekends like that from time to time.
We have dropped some points more behind Vettel, but it’s still long way to go in this championship. Now the main focus is getting back our normal rhythm and be back fighting for good positions in qualifying and even stronger for podiums in the race.
I like the atmosphere in Montreal. It’s always nice to come over to Canada. But usually it means also a certain kind of casino with the weather conditions and the griplevels of the tarmac.
We race whatever is the weather, but, for sure, I would prefer the dry track from the soaking one, at least. The car has been better in the wet, too, but there is always room to improve.
Canada gives always a real tricky challenge with the set-up work. In this circuit getting everything right feels first so difficult, but if you don’t miss too much track time in the practise, you gain good confidence for the qualifying.
The qualifying is always important, but here it doesn’t hurt you as much as it does in Monaco. With a good car and good strategy you can still do well.
It’s a long time since I was on podium in Montreal. Now we do our very best to get back there. We need good points after losing so many in Monaco due to circumstances outside our control.