How are you feeling heading into this Japanese GP compared to previous years?
I feel really good. It’s an amazing feeling to come here knowing that you have a car that you can compete with. It’s a unique feeling and a great feeling. I very much appreciate the hard work all the guys have done. Knowing you have a car that will allow you to show the ability you have throughout the weekend is something I’m really excited about. I just love this track, it’s such a cool place. I just love Japan as well, I’ve been in Tokyo for a few days and it’s one of my favourite cities in the world!
You’re now leading the championship going into this race; does it feel different than it has in previous weeks?
To be honest, I haven’t really thought about it. After I left the race, I went to KL and I just switched off. I’m not really interested in all the talk going on, I’m just interested in feeling healthy and being mentally prepared. My mentality stays the same, I still feel like I’m hunting and chasing. I don’t even know what the points margin is; all I know is that I want to be ahead at the end.
Is that part of your preparation; isolating yourself from the circus that goes on with Formula One and tell us about your training?
It’s such a long year; physically we’re training from mid-December all the way through to now. As the year gets on, your fitness generally drops off but I just look for different ways to keep the energy levels up. Whilst it’s amazing travelling to all these countries, you need to cope with the jet lag. I just try and eat healthily and go to bed at a reasonable time.
The weather looks like it might be an issue this weekend; what’s going to be the key with securing pole and the win you want here?
This is one of the toughest circuits in general, but when it rains or there’s a typhoon, it’s going to be difficult. Positioning is going to be important, understanding the lines and paying attention to detail. In the wet, you’re always on the edge of your seat but I’m looking forward to it; I like racing in the wet.
Reliability has still been an issue in previous races; how worried are you that a technical failure could decide the championship?
It’s not even something I want to think of; any negativity I just brush it off. Naturally in Formula One, reliability is about performance. Every team is trying to be the most reliable team as well as the fastest and it’s not easy to have both. It takes a lot of work to have both; we have done a great job up until now, but we can improve and we are working hard on that.
The current moment is a test for Nico now too; he has to come back from the issues he’s faced recently. How do you think he’ll cope?
Nico is a true professional; he’s shown incredible strength mentally, as well as talent and speed. I think he handled the last race with dignity and I’m sure he’ll come here just as strong as anywhere.