How are you looking forward to Austin? I am looking forward to it a lot. Last year we had a reasonable weekend there in what was Formula 1’s first visit to the Circuit of the Americas, but this year I think there’s potential for a lot more. In 2012 the track surface was new and temperatures were quite cool, so we struggled to find grip and also to get the best set up as we learn the new circuit. This year we have all the data from last time, we’re expecting warmer temperatures and I know both the team and myself are working really well together to extract strong performance from the car.
What particular challenges does the Circuit of the Americas present? It’s quite a balanced circuit in that you don’t need one particular thing over another for the car to perform well, but it should be a circuit where the E21 can go strongly once again. Last year the challenge was finding the level of grip we wanted and I expect this to be a challenge again. The tyre allocation is quite hard so you really have to work the tyres to get them in the best performance window. We expect warmer temperatures this year which will help and the track surface will have changed a bit from the very new surface we had last time. All in all, I think we have potential to go quite well.
You’ve been making some lightning starts recently; can we expect more of the same in Austin? It’s fair to say the starts were not my strongest point last year, but I’ve been working hard with the team to improve and it seems to have been working; particularly at the last few races. I was able to get into the lead in Japan and in Abu Dhabi I was able to find a line on the slippery stuff around the outside through the first few corners. I certainly want to qualify as near to the front as possible in Austin, then to make a great start into the lead would be a perfect beginning to the race!
What do you think of America? My first visit was for the race last year and I definitely like the USA. It’s such a big country and I know I’ve seen only a very small part of it. Since last year I’ve bought myself a Harley Davidson, so visiting Austin last year must have made an impression! I’ve had it customized so maybe I’ll have to ride it around the US sometime in the future. As well as great motor bikes, we saw so many enthusiastic fans last time which was really great.
Was it frustrating missing out on a fourth consecutive podium in Abu Dhabi? Of course it was! I think I was around a second behind [Nico] Rosberg at the end and I’d been catching him pretty well during the final few laps, but we just didn’t quite have the pace to get close enough before the flag. It’s a shame we couldn’t make it four podiums in a row, but when you remember the issues we had in FP2 and qualifying in Abu Dhabi I think to come away with fourth place is a decent result. On race pace alone we could maybe even have pushed Mark [Webber] for second place, but that’s how it goes sometimes and I think we got the maximum we could from the race.
Can you return to the podium in Austin? We’re certainly aiming for the best performance we can get; let’s see what happens.
Lotus F1 Team