Nico: it wasn’t quite the win you were aiming for in China but you still lead the Formula One World Championship! How are you feeling?
I’m not going to use the word ‘still’ because I plan to keep it that way! It’s good to have the lead: especially considering that the whole weekend was really, really bad for me. It went completely wrong in so many different respects. Also, in the race we had no telemetry so there was no communication between the car and the pits. The team had no idea what was going on with my car on track and that’s why the start was also so bad and a lot of things came together. So I’m pleased with second and I just look forward to a normal weekend again in Barcelona: full attack again!
Take us through that first corner contact?
It was just very close: there were cars all over the place. I had a bit of contract there and it was great that my car held on.
Then you had to make your way back through the field: did you have a little bit of fun coming through?
It’s really a pleasure to drive this car at the moment. It’s incredible the car that the team has built, just fantastic, so thanks to everyone involved. This thing is so quick. It really increases the enjoyment level even further.
You’ve said that a few things went wrong: what was your set-up like from Friday P2 though to the race itself?
Set-up-wise it was a good team effort over the weekend. Shanghai is a very unique track with understeer and front-left tyre wear being the main problems. You really have to change everything to adapt to the needs of the track and we did well as a team. It wasn’t perfect in the race but it was pretty good.
As you had to play catch-up from the start, could you really see what your strengths were in comparison to other cars?
Definitely. We have the strongest car at the moment and that makes it more enjoyable to fight through the pack: even though, of course, you don’t want to play catch-up. Still, it’s nice to be able to do it when you have to with such a fast car. It’s a good weapon.
We heard you weren’t entirely happy with giving a fuel report every lap…
Not really! But my telemetry failed so I was completely on my own out there. The team didn’t have any information from the car, so they had nothing to do… well not exactly, they still had plenty of things to do! But I had to do a lot on my own out there. For example, telling the team what my fuel level was so that they could judge if I was using too much. I had to do that into Turn One that’s a difficult corner anyway, so I didn’t enjoy that point too much!
Would it have been easier to use the plus / minus readings dashboard and drive your own race rather than talking to the pits lane?
It would have been but I didn’t have that function: probably because we don’t really need that normally. It was ok: just reporting once in a while to the paddock. It wasn’t every lap: just every now and then so they could connect a few dots and see where it was going. That wasn’t a problem at all, it was just that I didn’t like where I had to do it because it was into Turn One!
How confident is the team that it can maintain its advantage, or maybe even extend it, in Barcelona?
Hopefully we can improve more than all the other teams. We want to go to Barcelona with the biggest step: that’s our ambition. It’s a chance for us to extend the advantage that we have and that’s the approach, 100 percent.