“I’m feeling more and more comfortable”
After ‘the one that got away’ in Budapest, our Frenchman heads to Belgium full of vigour for the race ahead.
What are your thoughts about Spa-Francorchamps?
What a track; it’s fantastic! It’s a superb rollercoaster of a circuit, then there’s the added bonus that they speak French meaning it’s almost another home race for me after Monaco and Canada. It’s going to be good. If we have the pace we displayed in Budapest at a more normal circuit with better overtaking opportunities – and a bit wider track too – then I think good things could well be possible.
How is your feeling with the E21 now you have half a season behind you?
Certainly in the last few races I have felt very good in the car and have been able to push in qualifying and the race. It’s a good place to be heading into the second half of the season where there are very good opportunities for some great results.
How do you think the E21 should suit Spa’s challenges?
It should fit our car pretty well. In fact, the second half of the season looks good overall in terms of how the tracks should suit the E21. Hopefully we’ll have everything we need to win races. I’m looking forward to it as it’s a special track and I also won the GP2 Series title there in 2011, so it’ll be good for me to be back there again.
If you could sum up these first ten races, what would you say?
That’s a difficult one, but I guess I’d have to say the word ‘potential’ is the key. For sure we’ve had some difficult moments and maybe the results haven’t always been what the team deserved, but the potential for top finishes has always been there.
What’s been your highlight of this year so far?
A much easier question! Not many people know yet, but just after the race in Hungary my little boy Sacha arrived into the world so I am now a very proud father! On track… well, I would like to say the pass on Felipe [Massa] in Budapest – which at the time I thought may have been the best of my career so far – but of course with the penalty I suppose it’s not the same. The podium in Germany would have to be my next choice; not just because it was a great result for the team, but because we were genuinely fighting for the win right to the end which was a pretty good feeling.
And on the flip side?
Monaco was not my best weekend, that’s no secret. The pace was there, but for one reason or another I just didn’t put everything together when really a strong result was definitely achievable. I still owe the mechanics and composites guys a drink for that; hopefully it will be some victory champagne later in the season…
How are you feeling heading into the second half of the season?
Very good. We proved in Germany and Hungary that we can compete right at the front of the grid and I think if we can continue to improve at the same rate we will be looking pretty good for the remaining nine races. I’m feeling more and more comfortable in the car every time I drive it which is certainly a good sign looking forwards. After our performance in the last few races, I honestly believe my first win is now just around the corner.