We’ll take the challenge and do the very best we can”
After a weekend to forget in Monaco, our Frenchman heads to another French-speaking nation hopeful of very different fortunes.
It was an eventful weekend for you in Monaco… what are your thoughts now you’ve been able to reflect?
It was certainly a rollercoaster, and one where we could have achieved a lot more with the pace of the car. No-one wants to make contact with the barriers at Monaco and it’s a fine balance between going fast and going too fast; there’s such a tiny margin for error as I found out. The positives are that we significantly improved the car again to make it more predictable over the weekend and that helped me a lot. I think we had the pace to be in the top three, but unfortunately we didn’t get the qualifying position we wanted and it’s almost impossible to move up the order in Monaco. I got caught out behind Daniel [Ricciardo] and will have to suffer quite a harsh penalty of ten places on the Montréal grid, but we’ll be working hard to devise the best strategy to work back up the order.
You said you’d buy your crew some drinks for all the work they put in over the Monaco weekend; have you had a chance to do this yet?
Not yet, but I’ll treat them to a special dinner later in the year; hopefully when we’ve got something good to celebrate.
Last year you went from seventh to second in Montréal; can you repeat that kind of performance in 2013?
Yes, last year we had a fantastic result at this race and we’ll certainly be trying for a fantastic result once more. For sure it will be a bit more difficult with the penalty, but we’ll take the challenge and do the very best we can.
2012 was your first time racing in Montréal, but you learnt the track pretty well?
The track is interesting; not an easy one to learn, but as we say most of the time if you have a good result then you like the track! I’d certainly like to finish this year’s race on the podium again; that would be a good record to maintain. The city’s great too. People speak French, the place is lively, there are some great restaurants and everybody is really welcoming.
Have you raced the circuit in any other form?
It’s true that it’s my favourite circuit on the Xbox, though it’s certainly bumpier in real life than sat at home on your sofa!
You like street circuits and were quick in Monaco; can we expect more of the same pace at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve?
I enjoy the sensation of being close to the walls; although as I learnt this year in Monaco… I don’t enjoy the sensation of being too close to the walls! Montréal is different from Monaco as there are some long straights and big braking moments. The track surface can also present challenges as we’ve seen in past seasons, so it will be interesting to see what the grip level is like this year. Finally, the weather in Montréal can be quite changeable as we’ve seen many times. I’m sure it’ll be a challenging and exciting Grand Prix.
Does the Canadian event present any particular challenges, being a long haul amidst the European season?
I arrive a little earlier to help beat the jet lag. Sometimes the challenge of beating the jet lag and getting a decent sleep can be as hard to solve as finding the right setup for the car! I’ll be getting plenty of exercise and hopefully getting some good sleep at the right time too!
It’s been a mixed season for you so far; how would you assess it?
On paper it’s not as good as we would have wanted it to be, but I’m happy with all my performances so far except for Monaco. I have been doing my best every time, the pace is there and every time we manage to improve the car. I just have to keep doing my best and see where we go from there.