Nico: “Monaco is THE race to win!”

Nico: “Monaco is THE race to win!”

Nico, as the winner from pole here last year, what does victory around this race track mean to a Formula One driver?

For me personally it was a very, very special experience because it’s my home town. It’s where I’ve grown up and my whole life has been centred around Monaco, so to win here was great. Not only that, it’s THE race to win! It’s the most challenging and most prestigious event on the calendar, so really that was awesome.

After losing the initiative in the Championship battle to your team-mate, are you impatient to get that lead back again?

I’m not too focused on that. Of course I would prefer to be ahead than behind but it’s very, very close and there still a long way to go. So I’m just focused on this weekend here and I’m really looking forward to it. I know that I have a fantastic car at the moment and I expect it to be quick again here in Monaco. Our rivals might be a lot closer to us this weekend and we need to wait and see if we are the fastest but I hope to have a fantastic weekend again.

Do you plan to change your approach to qualifying to gain that extra advantage?

Three of the five qualifying sessions so far have been in the wet but in the dry it’s 1-1 between me and Lewis so that’s something I need to work on. It’s supposed to be dry on Saturday here so I’m confident I can make it happen. I’m not planning on changing my approach.

Are we going to see a tougher battle between you and Lewis as the season progresses?

It’s been a tough battle up until now and I expect it to continue like that. Of course, Lewis has had the rhythm in terms of results at the last few races but it’s been very close. I just need a tiny bit to turn it around. I’ll start with trying to do that here in Monaco.

Last year you controlled the race right up until the last few laps when tyre degradation became a concern: do you expect to be able to push more in the race this time around?

Last year our car struggled with tyres so it was all about just trying to make them last for the race. This year the tyres are more durable and we also have a better control over them as a team, so it should be a faster race if I’m at the front.

What is the toughest braking zone around Monaco?

Definitely up the hill into Turn Three. It’s very, very difficult because it’s a really fast corner. You’re trying to carry the speed in and if you get it wrong and you’re going too fast, it’s very easy to lose the line.

The sport lost a legend of Formula One, Sir Jack Brabham, earlier this last week: what are your thoughts on his achievements?

It was an amazing achievement that he had at the time, to win Grands Prix for an existing team but also for his own team, in his own car that he built. That’s extremely unlikely to ever happen again.

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