Next up, Interlagos, Brazil! A circuit I know well and where I won twice in 2008 Formula BMW. I’m seriously looking forward to the weekend ahead, and as I explained in my last blog for NBC Sports, I’ve criss-crossed the Atlantic to go back to Spain to prepare for the Bahrain and Abu Dhabi GP2 rounds with Racing Engineering.
But for this week, it’s about F1 and doing the best job I can for the Manor Marussia F1 Team and the people there that support me.
I’ve accomplished a lot in the past two weeks since Mexico and I’m feeling really good, both physically and mentally, even with all the travel over the past 10 days. Things are moving in exactly the right direction for next year, and to sign off my 2015 F1 races at Interlagos just feels right.
For everyone involved in F1, including the fans, Sao Paulo is a really big one. Yes there are some dangerous aspects to the city, but there are a few good F1 traditions that everyone looks forward to. Food and dinners out with friends and teammates beckon for most in Sao Paulo, and as a reserve driver in F1 these past years I’ve been to a few of these dinners in Brazil.
The culture and atmosphere is a lot of fun and it’s also a chance for the whole team to bond and to celebrate the work they’ve put in all year. Of course Carlos, my trainer and I will arm wrestle over the meal selection, but normally I’ll reluctantly concede, unless it’s Sunday night! If you’re an F1 fan who has made the trip to Brazil for the race you should head to one of the Fogo de Chao restaurants on most nights of race week – you’ll be pretty certain to see some famous faces amongst the guests, and you’ll definitely have a meal you’ll remember for all the right reasons, but I wouldn’t know too much about that!
Obviously F1 and Brazil go hand in hand. Sao Paulo is the home of Ayrton Senna and with so many Brazilians having raced in our sport, past present and most likely future, you know you’re in a motorsport heartland. While in Brazil most drivers are asked about Senna and what he meant to us. Senna was a great driver in every way! While I remember watching replay races of Senna, I never watched a race live, as he passed when I was three years old. I like the way he had to fight so hard for what he achieved, with passion, commitment and tenacity. A sure love for the sport!
This work ethic and tenacity is something I can relate to, as you never arrive nor do you ever give up. With that I am always aware of what it means to be part of the sport that so many other heroes helped make famous worldwide. Without Senna and the greats before and after him, I may not be afforded the opportunity to race this weekend in Brazil, a privilege that I do not take lightly.
As a circuit, Interlagos is awesome! The pits are new and the paddock has been redone a bit for this year, so I’m sure the teams will appreciate that a lot. The circuit runs anti-clockwise, unlike most of the tracks we compete at, and that puts a different strain on muscles than we have used for most of the rest of the year. I’ve trained specifically for this and most drivers do – if you’re not ready and can’t cope with it you probably shouldn’t be racing at the top level!
The circuit is a great mix of fast and slow sectors that really challenge the engineers and drivers on setup. The elevation changes see the cars go up and down the contours of the hillside that the track is built on and the atmosphere is incredible, especially on Sunday when it doesn’t matter what culture or part of the world you are from, you feel the energy throughout.
The trick to good laptime at Interlagos is to let the car flow from corner to corner – you need to find a rhythm that keeps the car balanced through each corner, something that will be particularly important with the current generation of power units as all that torque can unsettle a car. There’s no real substitute for actual track time to really extract maximum performance from the package you’re working with but my previous four F1 races with Manor have gone well and as planned and we look forward to continuing this trend this weekend in Brazil.
After Sao Paulo, it’s directly to Bahrain Sunday night and 100% focus on GP2. We’re five points away from tying up second place in this year’s championship, preferably in Bahrain so it’s done and we can really enjoy Abu Dhabi. I had a very good week back in Spain with the guys at Racing Engineering and we’re absolutely ready for the last two races this year.
As excited as I am about F1 in Brazil, the opportunity to get back into a GP2 car and win more races in this year would be awesome. The team and I did a lot of good preparations for Bahrain and Abu Dhabi that means we’ll hit the ground running next week.
For now though, my focus is my F1 team and Interlagos circuit, building on what we’ve achieved with Manor Marussia F1 Team since joining the team back in September. I have learnt a lot in the past eight weeks since being announced in F1. I cannot wait to continue that process in the future and finish my 2015 F1 season in the same style as we’ve finished the previous four. Then it is on to 2016, which cannot come soon enough.
Thank you for your support and you’ll hear from me again this time next week.