It’s good to be back after the break and to see everyone looking really refreshed and up for the fight in the remaining months of the season. The last race didn’t turn out how I had hoped after taking pole in tricky conditions the day before, but I still managed to come away with my Championship lead intact and that’s a good place to be heading into the next part of the year. Although we have had a great start with plenty of good results, that race showed that the other teams are never too far away. In Formula One you just can’t afford to give away any advantage and I know that both the team and myself will be working harder than ever to keep improving and maintain our position right to the very end. On top of that, the battle with Lewis has been so close all season – and it could well stay that way right up to the final race – so every last point will be crucial in that contest too. Next up, of course, we have Belgium, which is definitely one of the most spectacular races of the year. The circuit is just unreal and it’s one I think every driver looks forward to. My record there hasn’t been as good as at some other circuits in the past, but I’m determined to change that and get the season kicked off again in style!
Spa - In the Cockpit with Nico
The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is a fantastic racetrack. It’s where the special features of a Formula One car really shine through, with all the fast, flowing corners and right, left combinations that come together to make a fantastically varied lap. It really is a very enjoyable circuit to drive and a big challenge too – especially as the weather is always all over the place. That’s a big consideration in the way you approach the weekend and it can cause a bit of chaos sometimes!
There are so many fast corners and it’s difficult to get them all right – but this is crucial to a strong lap as maintaining momentum is the key to good speed. There are also some really good overtaking opportunities – in particular at the end the long straight after Eau Rouge and then again into the final chicane at the end of the high-speed final sector before you cross the start / finish line. So again, that rhythm is very important in terms of both attacking and defending a position.
Eau Rouge is, of course, the signature corner – and one of the most spectacular features of any track we go to. Even though we have much less downforce on the cars this year with the new regulations it will still be taken flat out. It’s an incredible feeling, as the g-forces you experience through the corner are just unbelievable! These kinds of forces are actually quite unusual, as we’re used to lateral loads but not the intensity and speed of the vertical compression you experience through this corner. You’re suddenly pushed down into the seat and then you find yourself looking straight up at the sky – you can literally see nothing but blue! You have to go by memory to feel where the next part of the corner is coming up over the hill, take aim and hope you get it right!