OCON FASTEST IN WET FREE PRACTICE AT SOCHI
VANDOORNE TOPS SOCHI FREE PRACTICE
SAHARA FORCE INDIA RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW
PASTOR MALDONADO’S RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW
After a solid outing in Suzuka, Pastor Maldonado looks to maintain momentum for the final five races of 2015, starting with the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi.
Suzuka was a solid race for you, how does that help you heading to Sochi?
You always approach a race on its own merits so my outlook heading to Russia is not affected by what happened in Japan. It was positive for us to have a solid race and get some good points, of course, but that is what we try to achieve at every race, regardless of what happened at the one before. Equally, if we have a race like Suzuka for all of the remaining events it would be a strong end to the year.
What were your first impressions of Sochi last year?
It was a great and amazing event, really well organised and with a good attendance. It was a special experience to arrive at a new country for Formula 1 – and a new country for me – then see strong immediate support like we did. I’m looking forward to returning and seeing how they built upon their strong first event.
What was it like when you drove the track for the first time?
It’s always a strange experience. You don’t know exactly how it will be, even though you’ve walked the track it’s very different when you’re sat in the car and actually driving. You have to push to the limit to realise the fastest way around. It’s a very technical circuit. Last year we saw the grip level improve a lot over the course of the weekend as it was new which meant we really needed to work hard on the setup to maintain the balance and get the car working as well as it could.
What do you think of the Sochi layout?
There are very many corners, with a couple of sections of stop and go. It’s quite a long lap and a reasonably technical one too. If you make a small mistake in one corner, you are punished for the rest of the lap. If you’re off line for one corner, it might not be until one of the straights that you can recover. Off-line is very slippery too so you’re doubly punished! Every single part of this track is important! In terms of enjoyment, I like the first sector the most, but it’s a good track overall.
How much easier is it heading there for a second time?
It will be much easier this year. Last year was all about discovery and learning; this year we should be several steps forward so be able to unlock more pace quicker.
Romain’s headed elsewhere for 2016, any thoughts on who you would like as a team-mate?
Honestly I have no preference. Throughout your career you work with a variety of team-mates so you get used to working with different people. Ultimately, everyone is trying to make the car faster and perform as well as it can for an event, so you’re all working to the same objectives.
We’ve seen the outline race calendar for 2016, what are your thoughts?
Firstly, as a driver you want to race as much as possible so I’m looking forward to 21 races. It looks like a good line-up of events and it will be interesting to visit races such as Malaysia and Russia at different times of the year as well as Baku for the first time.
Renault have signed a letter of intent to buy Lotus F1 Team, what does this mean for you?
This is positive news and I’m looking forward to things progressing here. I’ve worked with Renault in the past and know that they are real racers. I know Enstone always works very hard and we’ve seen what the Enstone and Renault combination has achieved in the past. Let’s hope there are great things ahead.
DANIIL KVYAT WITH HIS RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW
Dany, it’s home race time. Can you count the number of times you’ve given interviews about the Russian GP?
Impossible to count – hundreds? I have talked about it a lot but it’s the same for any driver, the home race is always the busiest! So, what do you want to know about – the track?
Well, last year we couldn’t talk about it as no one had driven on the finished product before, so what did you make of it?
I would describe it as a classic modern-style track. But what’s really important is that there is quite a lot of room for overtaking, which usually makes for good racing. It does have some quite interesting, quite unusual sections. There are some challenging braking areas, in Turn 13 for example. Also Turn 4 is quite tough. I would characterise it as a very technical circuit. It probably doesn’t really have a standout, balls-out corner, it really does make you think a lot and it takes some time to work out the best way round it. Having said that, it’s my home race and I enjoy it a lot. The atmosphere last year was fantastic, there were so many fans giving me support. It really feels awesome to be there.
Last year, with Toro Rosso, you had a great qualifying but the race didn’t quite work out did it?
Yeah, qualifying was great [Dany was fifth on Saturday] but the race was just… how can I say this… well, it was crap. We had problems with fuel consumption during the race and it was just a really disappointing day. I’m hoping we will be able to give the fans there something more to cheer about this year.
Does all the attention at a home race mean it’s harder to concentrate on the job in hand? Do you struggle to find some headspace to focus on the race?
In a way it’s true, sometimes you do get some strong attention but that’s part of the game and what you have to take from it is that the attention comes from the fact that perhaps you have been doing something good, which is a positive.
You have to understand that the fans are coming out to support you and that is something quite special – I’m happy to have the attention, it gives you a bit of a lift