What are your opinions of racing in the Parco di Monza?
I like Monza and I love Italy. I actually used to live very close to the circuit when I was starting my career here in Europe. I have won races here so it holds some good memories and special feelings for sure. I have a lot of friends here and a lot of supporters who come and see me at the track, so it is very nice to catch up with them all. The track is totally unique and of course it is great to be racing where all the old heroes did too. Monza has changed only very slightly over the years and it still has the character of the old banking and the parkland trees as you drive through it and of course the fans create a great atmosphere which is a great soundtrack to the Grand Prix.
Any particular expectations for the Monza weekend?
For sure it is going to be a tough weekend again for us at Lotus F1 Team. Monza is all about power combined with a low downforce set-up so it is a big challenge. I think it will be interesting to see the new 2014-spec cars here because the track is so unique and there is a very particular way to get the best out of the cars. They will be difficult to drive I think for everyone but we will be doing our best to put the Spa weekend behind us and to get more positive energy going before we head off on the long haul races.
Tell us one word that comes to mind when you hear the word Monza?
Speed. It has to be speed because the track is all about how fast you can go on the start/finish straight and then also on the back straight too. We are reaching the highest speeds of the season on these stretches. One of the critical points is the Parabolica corner. You have to get this right at the end of your lap to ensure a good time, and if you get it wrong it also compromises you for the next lap. It’s difficult to do this as the car is set-up for low downforce on the straights, so it’s more difficult to drive on the corners – especially a long corner like Parabolica, which is tough and fast, the most crucial at Monza.
This year you have tarmac not gravel on the outside of Parabolica. Will this change the approach to the corner?
I don’t think it will make too much difference really. The approach will be the same which is to take it as quickly and efficiently as possible. Of course there is the obvious safety element which means that you have less risk if you go off. I think this is good from a safety point of view because it is a quick corner with not that much room on the outside.
A dry, warm Grand Prix would be nice again?
Yes. Spa was very tough with the conditions and also Hungary too. Monza is usually warm and dry which seems to suit the E22 more than the wet. We just need to have a trouble free weekend where we can further explore the low downforce bodywork, especially the front wing package that was introduced at Spa. The big challenge though will be the power issue. It is difficult to overcome any disadvantage on this front but everyone will be working to get as much speed as we possibly can.
Pizza or Pasta?
Both. Definitely both. But not at the same time of course!