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MA QING Hua (chn) Citroen C Elysee team Citroen racing portrait ambiance during the 2015 FIA WTCC World Touring Car Nurburgring race presentation to the press at Nurburg, from April 27th to 28th 2015. Photo Florent Gooden / DPPI.


  • The fourth meeting of the FIA WTCC 2015 will be a very special one, providing the curtain-raiser for the Nürburgring 24-hour race.
  • On Saturday morning, the competitors will battle it out on a 25.947 km circuit comprising both the Grand-Prix track and the legendary Nordschleife.
  • After clocking the fastest times of the collective testing day held two weeks ago, the Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs have every intention of claiming the spoils from this prestigious meeting!


In terms of legendary venues revered by motorsport fans, the Nürburgring is right up there with Monaco, Indianapolis and Le Mans. The circuit, which lies in the Ahrweiler district, has undergone a number of redevelopments since it was built in the late twenties, but, thanks to the famous Nordschleife, it has kept its soul. The “North Loop” – also nicknamed “The Green Hell” – remains an iconic course. Together with the modern circuit used for the F1 Grand Prix, it forms a 25.947 km track known as the Gesamtstrecke (“the whole course”).

The circuit is unusual not only for its length, but also for its component features. It comprises some 170 turns of all kinds. The Nordschleife’s opening section, the Flugplatz, provides an early test of drivers’ mettle, with a hill masking a double right-hand-turn to be negotiated at top speed… In comparison, the Karussell hairpin, with its ever-so-slippery banking, seems almost easy to deal with. To complete a lap, drivers then still have to complete a long straight lasting several kilometres, which requires them to go at full tilt for forty seconds, reaching speeds in excess of 250 kph.

Frightening and fascinating in equal measure, the great Nürburgring will be the setting for the 7th and 8th races of the FIA World Touring Car Championship 2015. To prepare for this special meeting, the competitors took part in a day of collective testing on 28 April. For the Citroën Total team, this dress rehearsal served two purposes, enabling them to find the best setup for the C-Elysée WTCCs while providing the drivers with an opportunity to get as many kilometres under their belts as possible.

José María López, Sébastien Loeb and Ma Qing Hua clocked the day’s three fastest times, ahead of Gabriele Tarquini and their teammate Yvan Muller. But this weekend, they will all be starting from scratch. Every step of the way, the drivers will have to avoid the circuit’s many pitfalls, contend with the ever-unpredictable local weather conditions and time their attacks to perfection.

José María López, who already has three race wins to his name this year, is considered the favourite after his time of 8:38.027 on the test day. “This circuit is just amazing! I understand now why it’s so famous! But to fully appreciate it, you have to have confidence in your driving and in your car,” explains Pechito. “That was the case two weeks ago, when I felt that I was totally in sync with my Citroën C-Elysée WTCC. I hope to feel the same way this weekend. I’ve worked really hard to prepare for this meeting, putting in lots of laps on the Citroën Racing simulator. I feel as ready as I’ll ever be!”

The Nordschleife is a natural hunting ground for a former rally driver. Sébastien Loeb showed as much by coming very close to López’s times on the test day. Lying second in the overall standings after six races, the nine-time World Rally Champion will be looking to close the gap on his teammate at this meeting: “The Hungaroring was frustrating for me. I want to get back to winning ways, or at least make it onto the podium! We’re going to be taking on a hell of a circuit. It’s a real thrill to drive on. If you want to be quick, you need to use the whole track, but the grass and the safety barrier are so close that there is very little margin for error. The times in testing were quite close. We’ll see how much progress the different drivers have made using their saved data.”

Yvan Muller, whose performances in Hungary put him within 10 points of Loeb, is not the German circuit’s biggest fan, but that won’t stop him giving his all: “The tests were tough. I did close the gap on my teammates as the day went on, but that gap is still too wide for my liking. I’ll have to judge when to attack and when to take risks and come up with the best strategy to score as many points as possible over the two races.”

Ma Qing Hua is also among the leading contenders, having clocked the third-fastest time in testing. The Chinese driver has fallen in love with the Nordschleife, and is determined to find his way back onto the podium: “Every driver should come and drive here one day! I think the WTCC cars will put on a great show and I’m happy to be part of it. At the end of April, I felt great in my C-Elysée. It was a really comfortable drive. If everything comes together during my runs, I think I can compete for a top place.”


The FIA WTCC drivers will take to the track on Thursday for an hour of free practice at 11.30 a.m. Two further free practice sessions, also lasting an hour, will be held on Friday, at 8.15 and 11.55 a.m., but the drivers will not be able to refuel. Qualifying will take a different format than usual, with a single one-hour session for all competitors at 6.20 p.m. The top five will receive the bonus points normally awarded to the drivers who make it through to Q3, and the grid for race 2 will see the first ten from qualifying start in reverse order. A warm-up will be held at 8.05 a.m. on Saturday to allow the drivers to acclimatise to the conditions. The two races, which will last 3 laps (77 km), are scheduled for 11.15 a.m. and 12.15 p.m. The 24 Hours Nürburgring will then get under way at 4 p.m.


Want to know what it feels like to be Sébastien Loeb driving a Citroën C-Elysée WTCC around the Nürburgring? This video, shot on the test day on 28 April, should give you an idea… Click the link to experience the thrills of a full 25.947-km lap! https://youtu.be/nGFdZM2vGNs


Gordon Shedden tops table after victory 

Jason Plato and Adam Morgan also score wins at Thruxton

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race-winning spoils were shared between Gordon Shedden, Jason Plato and Adam Morgan at Thruxton.

Shedden showed his class by heading home a Honda one-two in Sunday’s opener, continuing the success story for the Japanese manufacturer at the fastest circuit in the country.

The Scotsman got the jump by the pole-sitting VW of Team BMR’s Aron Smith and never looked back as he pulled away from the chasing pack, maintaining the lead for the remainder of the race.

Neal also nipped by the slow-starting Smith and despite coming under race-long pressure he was eventually able to secure a hard-earned second place finish. The result for the new Civic Type R was the eighth victory for Honda machinery in the last nine races at Thruxton, which has impressively spanned three models of car.

Morgan claimed another eye-catching podium ahead of Plato, the latter having cleanly picked his way through from sixth on the grid.

Honda’s dominant reign came to an end in race two when Plato came out on top of a classic joust with West Surrey Racing’s Rob Collard. Plato’s VW initially lost out to the rear-wheel drive BMW but the double champion quickly reeled him in and made his move at the end of lap two.

The duelling duo couldn’t be separated for the duration of the contest with Collard hounding the stealth black machine ahead of him for every fiercely fought lap. Plato produced a defensive masterclass, however, and he held on to take the win – his 90thcareer victory in the series. Shedden completed the podium positions to score yet more valuable championship points.

Morgan then secured a stellar second BTCC career victory with a flawless drive in the final race.

Starting from pole position the WIX Racing Mercedes immediately pulled away from the field and was more than three seconds up the road by mid-distance. He had to hold his nerve after a brief safety car period, but the young talent was again able to peg back the field following the restart.

Despite it being his second victory having won on the final day of the 2014 season at Brands Hatch, it was the first time the Lancastrian had actually stood on the top step of the podium. His maiden triumph effectively came in the stewards room when first-on-the-road driver Plato was penalised for a driving standards infringement. So despite this result representing his second success, it will undoubtedly have tasted sweeter than the first.

MG Triple Eight Racing’s Andrew Jordan maintained his championship challenge with a second place finish behind Morgan’s Mercedes. While the 25-year-old is still looking for his first win of 2015, he has shown the sort of consistency that could prove vital over the course of a season and that which took him to title glory in 2013.

Sam Tordoff scored his first podium since making the switch to West Surrey Racing, after he had to defend from the team’s former driver Colin Turkington. Reigning champion Turkington experienced a relatively low-key weekend in Hampshire, but the Ulsterman still bagged a solid points haul in every race.

Honda Yuasa Racing made the most gains during the final race with Shedden and Neal finishing in fifth and sixth respectively.

The fallout from Hampshire sees the championship picture tantalisingly poised with five former champions occupying the top five positions. Shedden leads Turkington by eight points, with Neal, Plato and Jordan next up in the order.

Honda holds the advantage from reigning title holders MG in the Manufacturers/Constructors Championship while Team BMR maintains its lead in the Teams’ standings. Turkington and Team BMR head the Independents’ tables, and Power Maxed Racing’s Josh Cook is the Jack Sears Trophy leader, which is open to rookie competitors.

Rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will take place at Oulton Park in Hampshire in four weeks time (6/7 June).

Gordon Shedden said: “To get another win and one-two with the new Civic Type R is a fantastic feeling. I got a great start so straight away I was in some clear air, which made the all-important job of looking after the tyres quite a bit easier. By the time I was at the Complex for the first time I’d broken the tow, and from then on I could manage the pace – the car was perfect. To get a podium with maximum ballast in race two was awesome – we were really chuffed with that – and to then conclude the weekend with more solid points in race three was a real bonus. As championship leader, I’ll go to Oulton with a whole load of weight in the car, but we’ll worry about that in a little while…”

Jason Plato said: “It was a good weekend overall. After what happened in Free Practice One, it knocked us back a bit and took some of the aggression out of our approach. It’s dead easy now to look back and say I should have pushed a bit harder, but actually it was probably the right thing to do because we got through with a strong haul of points. I don’t know exactly where we were before the weekend, but now we’re just 12 points from the top. That’s progress; we’re getting closer and closer. I’m getting closer to 100 wins! I don’t think I’ll be able to get them all this year, the championship is too competitive, but it’s getting closer. I think we’ll definitely get a few at Oulton – my tail is in the air and there’s nobody faster around that place than me. We’ve got to do our job, stick the car on pole and win the first, and maybe the second race.”

Adam Morgan said: “It’s an incredible feeling – it was great to win at Brands but doing it on the road is another level. I’ve wanted to get a lights-to-flag victory for so long, and to do it around Thruxton is amazing. Thanks to all the guys in the team – the car was brilliant, and while I did have a bit of vibration it made it to the end. It’s been a great day all round – we’re a small team but we have some fantastic backing from the guys at WIX and all our other sponsors and with three podiums this year, we’re getting there. In this championship experience counts for an awful lot, and now I’m in my fourth season everything is coming together and we’re hoping to be right up there in the Independents’ week in week out.”

Matt Neal said: “The Civic Type R lived up to expectations around here for sure. I think we could have had more points out of the weekend, but it’s so close and I had a bit of a mess up in race two which I’ll be thinking about again tomorrow morning. We’ve got to move on and we got good points for me and Flash – we’re both still up there. Race three was busy – I wanted it to carry on, the car still felt great! Oulton is one of the tracks where ballast is really going to hurt, and qualifying is going to be really difficult so the top few guys could find it tough. If we can get a top six it would be a good job. We’re not about having quiet weekends though; we’re flat out for everything we can get. It works well for me and Flash, we work well together and push each other very hard!”

Colin Turkington said: “It was a steady weekend although we struggled a bit for balance. Whenever you qualify back a bit you have to really graft on race day to try and pick up results. We improved the car through all three races and probably scored some OK points. The ballast is going to make things trickier for us at Oulton, as there’s plenty of stopping and starting around there, but it’s points in the bag at this time of the year and hopefully we can bring a stronger package to Oulton.”

Andy Jordan said: “First of all I’d like to say a big congratulations to the WIX guys, I know what it’s like to be in a small team and to win in the BTCC with your family is brilliant. For us it’s been a pretty tough weekend at work. I thought Adam [Morgan] might lose his tyres in the third race – he was setting a very impressive pace and I was on the limit of where the MG felt comfortable so I didn’t push too hard and made sure I’d be there to pick up any pieces. They’ve obviously got the car well sorted though as it made it to the flag. I’m really happy to get the podium – it’s important to keep scoring on our bad days, but we need some good days now too!”


Vandoorne holds on for feature win

McLaren tester denies pressure for victory
Stoffel Vandoorne held off late pressure to win a tactical feature race in Barcelona this afternoon, having just enough to deny Mitch Evans and Alexander Rossi at the end despite their softer tyres to claim the top step on the podium and extend his lead in the championship.
The race was always going to be a gamble between tyre strategies: on the grid the top three (Vandoorne, Alex Lynn and Pierre Gasly) started on softs while immediately behind them Evans and Rossi were on the harder compound. With temperatures soaring once again the difference between strategies was a coin toss.
When the lights went out Vandoorne just denied Lynn into turn one, with the latter then mugged by his teammate at the next corner, while behind them the hard tyre pair held station ahead of fast charges from Arthur Pic and Norman Nato, who were split by Rio Haryanto at the end of the first lap.
Vandoorne and Gasly came in from the lead as soon as they could on lap six, with Lynn pushing hard for one more lap but emerging behind the pair: all three now had to slice their way through the field to make the strategy work. The Belgian would not be denied, taking no prisoners as he fought his way forward, with the others trying to cling on to his coattails.
All eyes were on the gap between Evans, now in the lead, and Vandoorne as the leader of the formerly soft shod men, and although it was extending slightly because of the traffic it looked as though the McLaren tester was doing enough to make his strategy work. And so it proved: Rossi pitted on lap 26, Evans next time round, and the pair emerged behind Gasly and had work to do.
The American led the way by the Frenchman and was soon hunting down the Belgian, 5.6 seconds up the road with 9 laps remaining. The pair caught the leader with 4 to go, but Evans had bigger ideas that a support role: he ran inside Rossi at turn one next time through and was soon hunting for more.
Unfortunately for him his soft tyres were losing their edge, and Vandoorne was in no mood to give anything away: the Belgian held on for his second win of the season from a frustrated Evans, with Rossi rounding out the podium a few seconds behind. Haryanto made good use of his softs at the end to finish in P4, ahead of Lynn and Raffaele Marciello, who both gained a place when Gasly went deep at turn one in the closing stages. Nato will be delighted with P8 and tomorrow’s pole after mugging Pic on the last lap, while Richie Stanaway claimed the final point of the race.
Vandoorne extended his lead in the drivers’ title race over Haryanto, with the Belgian on top by 72 points to 45, with Rossi on 38, Evans on 28 and Nathanael Berthon on 16 ahead of tomorrow morning’s sprint race.


Vandoorne leads the way in free practice

McLaren tester continues his good form in Barcelona
Stoffel Vandoorne has carried over his front running form from Bahrain by topping the times in this morning’s free practice session in Barcelona, leading the way by half a second over rivals Mitch Evans and Alexander Rossi.
The McLaren test driver set a time of 1:30.171 at the 15 minute mark in a scorching session, the last of a string of quickest laps which made clear his intentions for this afternoon’s qualifying session and set a challenge for the rest of the field to solve over the next few hours.
Alex Lynn set the first competitive time before Rossi took the baton, but Vandoorne was never going to be denied: the Belgian claimed the top spot 8 minutes in, briefly ceding the lead to Evans before coming back out on fresh rubber and setting a string of laps that couldn’t be touched by the remainder of the field.
With qualifying to come so soon after the session no one wanted to risk any damage to their cars, although Sergey Sirotkin’s break was made more difficult than the others due to a problem with his gearbox, which curtailed his track time.
Behind the top three Pierre Gasly, Nathanaël Berthon, Richie Stanaway, Rio Haryanto, Lynn, Raffaele Marciello and Artem Markelov are all within striking distance, and will be hoping to prove it this afternoon in qualifying.

Formula 1

Sahara Force India Gran Premio De Espana Pirelli 2015 Preview

Sahara Force India gets ready for the start of the European season this week in Barcelona.
Vijay’s Vision
Team Principal, Dr Vijay Mallya, sums up the mood as the team heads to Barcelona.
VJM: “It’s fair to say that we’ve had mixed fortunes during the opening four races. On the positive side, we’ve scored points in half the races and I’ve been impressed by the fighting spirit of the team. On the other hand, we know the VJM08 is not where we want it to be and that we need to work hard to unlock more of its potential.
“It’s still early days in the season, but it’s worth noting how closely-matched the midfield teams remain. There are times when we see up to ten cars within half a second of each other, which means that any improvements we can bring to the car will have a big impact on our results.
“Our pace has been improving with each race, but we will need to wait a little longer before we can make a big step. I’m optimistic about the updates we have planned and we are working hard to get them to the track as soon as possible. The priority over the next few races is to stay in touch with the teams around us. As it stands, fourth place in the championship is just 12 points ahead of us, so we need to keep fighting hard and picking up points when we can.”
Nico on Barcelona
Nico Hulkenberg looks ahead to this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Nico: “The Barcelona race is one of the best weekends on the calendar. The locals are passionate and there’s always a big crowd on race day, so the atmosphere is great. I always stay in the city centre and I really like the place – plus the food is really good: I love paella.
“We all know the Barcelona track really well. You have to think about how to approach a lap because it’s important to look after your tyres. If you take too much out of them in the first sector, you end up paying the price in the final one, so finding the right balance is the key. The first two sectors are fairly straightforward and they are the quickest sections of the track, while the final part of the lap is more technical and low speed.
“As a whole, there is a nice mix of different corners which makes this a very interesting circuit. Overtaking has always been difficult there, even with the introduction of the slow chicane at the end of the lap. The final corner is still fairly quick and it’s difficult to follow another car closely. You have to lift to avoid running wide, and that usually takes away the opportunity for overtaking into turn one.”
Sergio on Barcelona
Sergio hopes to build on the momentum of Bahrain as the European season begins.
Sergio: “It’s nice to get to Barcelona following a good result in Bahrain. The last race was definitely a bit of a confidence boost for everyone and we will try to keep up this momentum in Spain. At the same time we expect a more challenging weekend because the characteristics of the circuit are very different to Bahrain with a lot more high-speed corners.
“The weekend in Barcelona is always enjoyable. The city and the people remind me a lot of Mexico, and I really like the Spanish food. The fans also make this race special and I always feel a lot of support from the grandstands.
“As a track, Barcelona is a demanding place to drive a Formula One car, with both fast and slow sections. It’s a big test of the aero package – similar to somewhere like Sepang. Overtaking is never easy because it’s difficult to get really close to another car, so good track position really pays off. The DRS zones have made it a bit easier to overtake, but you still need to be quite a bit faster than the cars you are racing.”



Lotus F1 Team Deputy Principal Federico Gastaldi looks forward to the first European race of the season eager for more points and success.

How much does the team look forward to racing in Spain?

We all love Barcelona and the surrounding countryside. Spain and the Spanish people are wonderful and I have a lot of friends as well as family there. In terms of a racing challenge, it’s a fascinating event as it’s where every team should be operating at their maximum potential at this time of the season as the circuit is so well known to us all. There are no excuses if you can’t get your car set-up or working well at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya!

What has been keeping the team busy since Bahrain?

We’ve been working hard on improving the E23 and how we use it, whether through the progress made in our technical debriefs, or the parts being fabricated here in Enstone. Elsewhere we also took the car to Brands Hatch for our filming day, which we opened to the public. This is something we’ve done historically behind closed doors where we have contractual obligations with partners for moving images and the like so it’s a full day. We looked at things a little differently this year and asked ‘why don’t we open the doors to fans who want to attend’. Thankfully we have a fantastic relationship with Jonathan Palmer and MotorSport Vision and they shared our vision. It was fantastic to have so many fans take a day off work to come visit us and it’s definitely something we’ll do again.

Anything exiting planned for the first European race?

There’s potential for some things which could open some eyes in Barcelona and then at the next race in Monaco too. It’s fair to say it’s busy times at Enstone.

What are your thoughts on Romain’s championship charge?

Romain delivered another textbook driving display in Bahrain and he continues to impress us and other seasoned F1 observers with his on track prowess. He is very focused this year and this means he’s making the most of every moment in the car. We know as soon as we can unlock a little more pace from the E23, there will be even stronger results to come.

Pastor has had more of a difficult start to his year, what are the team doing to ensure he can get the maximum from the E23?

We’re still waiting for those first 2015 points with Pastor and no-one wants them more than the man himself. Pastor is driving really well and has been the victim of other drivers’ mistakes rather too much this year. We know he likes the E23 and can get it to deliver very good pace. Pastor enjoyed great success in Barcelona a few years ago so hopefully that is a good omen for him.

Jolyon is being kept busy in and out of the car?

It’s always a notable step for a driver to go from focusing on contesting the GP2 Series championship to having a very different role at a Formula 1 race team. We’re keeping him very busy with his in-car duties and he has impressed us with his pace, application and feedback from his FP1 sessions so far. Out of the car there has been a lot of interest in him and he’s kept busy with media duties. Of course, like any driver, he’d like to be racing, but he’s definitely not sitting about being bored!

It’s Carmen’s home race – how is she gelling with the team?

Carmen has gone down really well with the team and it is a pleasure working with her. It’s been a surprise just how much attention she’s received. She has been hard at work in the simulator this week at Enstone and I think some aspects of the F1 set-up have been eye-opening for her. Certainly the step from GP3 – where she raced for the past three seasons – to Formula 1 is a large one but she’s applied herself well.


Romain on Brands and Barcelona, driving with his eyes closed and the bloody French!

What does heading to Barcelona mean for you?

Barcelona means the start of the European season. That means we can travel less, which is good as you soon get bored of those long haul flights, even if the destinations are great when you get there! It also means we see quite a lot more updates on the cars, which can make everything interesting. We’ve had a couple of weeks since Bahrain and it’s only a short flight from Enstone to the circuit so there’s been a decent amount of time for some more developments to the car. The fans have a great spirit in Barcelona, which is a beautiful city full of culture that I really enjoy.

How do you like being on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya itself?

It’s a circuit we’ve seen pretty often in your career so I know it well, and I have some good memories from the past. It was our best circuit last year, and I also finished fourth back in 2012 as well as setting the fastest lap. It is a circuit everyone knows backwards, so as a team we go to Barcelona intent on getting much more performance from the car.

Any idea how many laps you’ve done around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya? Do you think you could drive a lap with your eyes closed?

It’s almost impossible to know. I’ve driven many, many laps of the circuit in F1 and in different junior series I’ve competed in. I’ve drawn the track my eyes closed in the past….Trying to drive a lap eyes closed in the simulator at the end of a day’s work could be fun. I’ll do it next time I’m in Enstone; I’ll let you know how I get on!

What are your favourite parts of the circuit?

I quite like the first section of the circuit in particular; it’s fast and you get a lot of grip from the car as you can really feel the downforce pushing you hard to the road. I’m a bit less of a fan of the final sector which is twisty but that’s where you can make the most lap time improvement so it’s important to get it right.

What do you feel about the level of competition in F1 in 2015?

It’s pretty exciting. We see some good races with us fighting hard in the pack. Up front we’ve seen some good dicing and Ferrari have shown that Mercedes is not invincible.

How is the relationship with your new race engineer?

He’s bloody French! On a serious note, it’s going well. We started our working relationship on the right footing and we understand each other very well. All this is very important to make things work properly.

How do you review your first four races of the season?

In terms of performance we have achieved a one hundred percent record in reaching Q3 which is a very good result. We could have done more in the first two races had we not had a few issues but I think that we got everything right from China onwards. It’s very good to be in the top ten in qualifying and then play with the strategy in the race. I’m happy with the points we have scored these last couple of races, let’s now get more at every race and continue to improve.

You were in Enstone this week, what keeps you busy when you visit?

There is always a lot to fit in when I come to Enstone. On Tuesday, I did simulator work with my engineers. I was also checking a few more details regarding my seating position in the car to make it even more comfortable – it’s quite key to be sat well during the race. We had a very busy day on Monday for our filming day at Brands Hatch Circuit. There were a lot of partner commitments to fulfil as well as some media commitments, but the best bit was seeing that so many fans had come down to watch us for the day!

Finally, how far off is baby number two and do you expect that could affect your home sleep strategy?

It probably will impact my sleep strategy but my wife is very understanding and knows that I need to be well rested when I go to the race track. The baby’s due in the next 15 days and I’m hoping that I’ll be home when it comes! If that’s not the case, I’ll win the race and will dedicate it to our new baby!


Poised and hungry for his first points of the season, Pastor Maldonado is eager to ensure his championship charge is switched on at the location of his 2012 Grand Prix win.

The Spanish Grand Prix holds a special place for you…

It’s very special – mostly because we see a lot of Venezuelan support there, also because it’s the first race back in Europe, and of course, because it’s nice to have won there. Hopefully we’ll see a good result there for the team and some points for me!

Tell us about the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Overall Catalunya is tough for the cars, drivers and teams because everyone knows the track so well and you have to fight for every thousandth of a second. There are obviously races that are much closer to Venezuela in a geographic sense, but Barcelona is special for me because there is a huge community of Venezuelans close by and of course my mother tongue is Spanish. So I hope to see a lot of flags around the track and some great support as usual. It’s always good to race in front of your fans and I am determined to continue my good record here. The circuit has certainly been very good for me in the past, with the win in 2012 being the highlight. A top ten in qualifying will be our first focus and then it’ll be a very tough race in terms of tyre management, with a lot of pit stops and strategy.

What will be your target this year in Barcelona?

To win…!  The aim is always to get 100% from the package, to know we’ve achieved the best possible. So a win might not be on the cards just yet but we are definitely able to fight for good points.

How would you review your first four races of the season – what have been the positives and where can improvements be found?

It was a complicated start to the season, the first four races were tough. It wasn’t easy to be hit by other drivers for both Australia and Malaysia! I think we learnt a lot from the first two races however as we made a good jump in performance by the Chinese Grand Prix because we had learnt so much about our car. We are closer to our rivals, the teams we’re targeting for the championship, and our race pace improved significantly. It’s getting better and better.

How would you evaluate the E23 Hybrid this first quarter of the 2015 season?

It’s a good car. Immediately, the first day we tested the E23, the potential was clearly there. There are still areas to develop but it’s looking very good. If we go back just a few months ago to where we were with the E22, it’s a huge improvement in comparison. It’s not just the change of engine, the chassis is working much better. The entire package has good potential for this season.

You’ve been here at Enstone this week to do some simulator work, how important is it for your and the team’s preparation for the next race?

It’s very important. We start with a debrief in a way, where we compare the simulator runs with the race we have just completed, to make sure that the information we get from the sim is as accurate as possible. If not, we work to make it more realistic, and if it’s okay, we move on to testing various things for the next races.

What do you remember about the win in 2012?

It was a great day in my career, a strong race and victory over Fernando Alonso in his home event. We really deserved it because we did it on merit and under big pressure from the Ferrari all race. People forget that we were outside the top ten on Friday and then everything came together. We qualified second – pole after Lewis Hamilton was disqualified – and I knew there was a chance to win the race. I just felt so calm and ready to win. That weekend, after being 17th in first practice, shows why you must never give up in Formula 1. It also gave me more confidence because my first year in F1 had been difficult, but as soon as the car was competitive I was up there, fighting with the top drivers. My mentality changed and this now drives me forward when times are tough.