The Russian experienced a tough weekend at Silverstone but, with significant upgrades to come for Germany, he is convinced the team will be back on the way up.
Vitaly, how would you summarise your British GP weekend?
Honestly the experience of the venue was fantastic because the British Grand Prix has so many fans, there are just so many passionate people and it was our home race too. Unfortunately our on-track performance was not great over the three days. We had a very poor qualifying which left us in P14 and P16 - well below where we should be qualifying.
The wet weather didn’t help us, and the rule changes (mapping) clearly had an impact. During the race, I got an ok start but we really struggled with the tyres and I found the car pretty undriveable in the wet conditions. I was unable to get to grips with the inter tyres, which affected us badly and we were just unable to protect ourselves from the other drivers such as Michael (Schumacher).
When the conditions dried, we picked up our pace but it was not enough because we needed the car to be stronger than it was, so generally I was disappointed because I thought the high speed corners would suit us well. However since then, I think that we as a team have understood what went wrong and will move on from it in Germany.
You are at the Formula Sochi Festival in Russia this weekend. Does it make you proud to be able to bring F1 to the attention of your own fans?
I think it’s been very important to come to Sochi and demonstrate all the sport has to offer. Formula One is getting more popular in my country, and we have a Russian Grand Prix in a few years (2014) so now is a good time to say ‘look, this is what F1 is all about!’
As usual, aerodynamic efficiency will be the key
What are your expectations for the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring?
Well, last year the race took place at Hockenheim, but of course this year driving at the Nürburgring will be different. The weather can be quite changeable there, which will again have an impact but the main thing we need is a strong set-up for the car. As usual, aerodynamic efficiency will be the key. It (the car) hasn’t performed at the level we know it can, and it has been off the pace for a few races now so we must get it right quickly to turn our season around. Additionally, it’s very important we reach Q3 in qualifying so that we can score more points come Sunday afternoon.
What’s the minimum you expect from the next two races?
Once again, we will be aiming for the maximum number of points, but we need to look at the whole weekend and get our performance up immediately from P1 right through until the race. Since Silverstone, we have been putting in the work to ensure we give ourselves the best possible chance at the Nürburgring. The speed with which we introduce our new upgrades is the critical factor in our success and I’m convinced that having these upgrades in place for Germany will give us more of a chance.
By: Lotus Renault