After a solid start of the 2005 Formula One season as Jordan Grand Prix Third and reserve test driver, Robert Doornbos throws a glance at his experiences of Melbourne's season opener last weekend, as well as looks forward to an intensive fitness...
After a solid start of the 2005 Formula One season as Jordan Grand Prix Third and reserve test driver, Robert Doornbos throws a glance at his experiences of Melbourne's season opener last weekend, as well as looks forward to an intensive fitness programme in Malaysia in the next few days.
Q: How did you experience last weekend's Australian Grand Prix?
Robert Doornbos: Very well! When I arrived at the paddock on Wednesday afternoon, it was just like seeing your old classmates at the first day of school after having enjoyed a long summer break. I felt immediately at home with both the team and the Formula One paddock. In the Drivers Briefing several drivers, among whom Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard, treated me with a warm 'Welcome back!' as well.
Q: How did your performance look like the entire weekend?
RD: After I'd fitted a new seat at Thursday morning, me and my engineer kind of worked our way through all new technical specifications on the car. Also on Saturday and Sunday I learned a lot about the car, the engine, the tyres and the strategy, by attending all briefings and sessions in an active manner.
Just like last year, most of the days I arrived at the circuit at 07:30h and stayed there all day, only to go back to my hotel late in the evening. Hopefully I can be from great importance to my teammates by being so concerned and motivated.
Q: And talk us through your Friday, please?
RD: Both sessions combined, I drove an entire Grand Prix distance in Friday's Free Practises. I mainly concentrated on doing long stints in order to get a complete insight of the potential of our Bridgestone tyres. Among others, Kees van de Grint (Manager Racing Tyres Bridgestone, red.) provided me with much helpfull information, for which I have to thank him.
With the new regulations, one really has to use his head to get the best out of the tyr es and not be too aggressive. Because I already did 50 laps on my set of tyres, I wasn't able anymore to put down a really quick lap at the end of the session. But next time I'll have a new go for that."
Q: Did you feel any differences on this car compared with last years?
RD: Yes, definitely. After my last test at Jerez de la Frontera in December 2004, the team increased the level of downforce significantly with about 20%, which equals approximately 100 kilos! Therefore the car handles much better. Also Toyota did a great job for the team over the last couple of months. Their engine offers a good driveability and is really responsive. It's a big plus for the team!
Q: Can we also count on the Albert Park cirucit to be one of you favourites?
RD: It was fantastic! The circuit has a nice lay-out and by its semi-street characteristics it's definitely challenging. The track has small run-off areas and because you get pretty close to the walls at certain points, you can really feel the speed. I'm a fan!
Q: Did your intensive preseason physical preparation pay off?
RD: Absolutely. Because I stayed in the Formula Medicin gym almost without any interruptions in the last couple of months, I could drive an entire Grand Prix distance without any problems last Friday. And don't forget I didn't drive a Formula One car for almost three months!
Q: How does your upcoming one and a half week 'break' look?
RD: I just arrived in Kuala Lumpur where I'll prepare myself both physically and mentally for the next Grand Prix together with my trainer. Because of the heat, this means I have to drink 5-6 liters of water each day in order to be fit for all our planned exercises in the upcoming days. Next week I've also planned some PR activities for Sobranie, Benson & Hedges eastern brand. But honestly, I can't wait to get back in the car again at Sepang. I'm really counting the days!