Crash! Bang! Wallop! That was quite a big smash in Sochi – how are you feeling?
I’m feeling pretty good, especially considering the force of the impact; I broke my seat! It was my biggest impact for quite a while and when I knew I was going to hit the wall I took my hands off the wheel, closed my eyes and braced myself. It’s a testament to all the safety inherent in the car and the other safety devices, so a little thank you to Bell, HANS, Enstone, the circuit, the FIA and the marshals and medical personnel. Also a big thank you
to my crew who had to pick up the pieces and put the car back together.
What do you think could have been possible prior to your E23 component rearrangement?
We certainly had potential to be in the points, even after having to make a first lap stop to get a new front wing.
You’re going to be spending a lot more time in the US in the future, what’s the appeal?
It’s a pretty amazing country and there’s so much to explore. The people are really friendly and it really seems to be a place of opportunity.
Certainly it’s a place with great opportunity for me in the future!
What about Austin?
At the moment, the part of America I know the most is Austin for the Grand Prix, and it’s a place that I – and I know, my crew, as well really like to visit. Of course, the USA is such a big place which I would love to explore more and I’m going to get that wish fulfilled pretty soon!
What do you think of the Circuit of the Americas?
It looks great and the first time I walked around it in 2012 I thought wow! The gradient up to turn one is really something and it makes for a fun
first corner when you’re in the car. It’s a really well presented facility with an interesting circuit layout. It’s great to be at a race where the local
character is very evident and that’s certainly the case in Austin, with the fan reception and the American way of presenting events.
What particular challenges does the Circuit of the Americas present?
It’s quite a balanced circuit in that you don’t need one particular thing over another for the car to perform well. In the first year the challenge was finding the level of grip we want and we did see the same for the past two races too. Every year so far the race has taken place a little earlier, and that’s good as it generally means warmer weather. This is good for many reasons, but wearing my race driving hat it’s good as it helps with tyre warm-up and grip. Grip is something we’ve struggled with in Austin in the past, so a warmer circuit with a bit more aged track surface should help with that.
Is it true that you will ride to Austin on your Harley Davidson motorcycle?
One year I will, but not this time! I borrowed one last year before the race and it was great to explore the area. I have my own custom Harley which is really a favourite of mine. They’re obviously an iconic US machine so it was great to be able to ride one in its home country. I’ve said before that all the drivers should ride one for the parade lap I think that would be pretty cool!
What can F1 do to be more appealing in America?
Certainly it’s becoming more popular since we returned and the event in Austin is perfect to lead this. We’ve heard talk and more about another race, or even a couple of other races, in the US and that would make a difference. A US Formula 1 team would be good, especially one with a French driver. That I can see working…
How are you approaching the final races of 2015?
It’s amazing just how quickly this season has passed, even if it’s seemed a long, hard slog at times. We head to Austin, Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi and then it’s done! The season goes so quick. I’m certainly aiming for the best finale possible for Lotus F1 Team.
Lotus F1 Team