It was an eventful final day of pre-season testing for you; how would you sum it up?
That was an incredible effort by the team and I’m really happy with our day’s work. We missed out on running for most of the morning, but in the end I managed to do over 100 laps so this was a very useful final day of testing for me and I learned a lot in the process. The only problem was the conditions, with a lot of wind and blowing sand at some corners meaning that suddenly you could have almost no grip which was a bit difficult to manage.
What caused the delay?
We have two separate car crews during testing; one set of mechanics working through the night and the other arriving at around 07:00 to take over for the day. Early this morning, the night shift crew switched on the engine just to make sure everything was okay and recognised a strange sound so we had to change it, which took a good few hours.
You certainly seemed to be pushing at the end there…
We did a bit of qualifying practice at the end and it’s important to do that in preparation for the first race as qualifying is an important part of a Grand Prix weekend. I’m not going to give away anything about the car, but 100% of the driver potential was being used!
Are you satisfied with how the winter programme has unfolded?
Overall I can be really happy about my testing programme and I have to say a big thanks to everyone in the team both here and back at the two factories for the remarkable job they’ve done. As is the case for everybody, we still have a few reliability problems that definitely need to be sorted out before Australia, but in general I think the winter tests have been better than expected.
Would you say the team has an advantage over the rest of the field at this stage?
I’m not worried about anybody else because I’m not thinking about anybody else; we’re just concentrating on our own programme and getting the most out of our package. I certainly don’t see us as the top team: it may seem from the outside that we are in a slightly better position than some of our rivals, and that the Mercedes-Benz Power Unit has a bit of an advantage over the others, but we won’t know for sure until we get to Melbourne. Realistically, to try and guess where we are relative to the opposition would not make sense.
How are you feeling heading to Australia?
I’m feeling good and I think the team is quite optimistic in general, but as everyone knows you have to be very cautious with testing results. The car is not 100% ready yet in terms of reliability and, although we have one more day on track and a little bit of time before we head to Australia, anything could happen when we get there. We still need to get to the end of the race like everyone else which is going to be a challenge in itself.
What’s up next for you?
After some work in the simulator next week I will fly to Melbourne on Friday. I can’t wait to be back in the car again: we’ve had three good tests and I’m hoping we will make a good start to the season in Australia.