F1weekly and Lotus Renault GP prepares for round eightteen of the season in Abu Dhabi.
Bruno Senna – “Abu Dhabi and Brazil were probably my best two races last season”
The penultimate race of the season was one of Bruno’s favourite tracks last year, and he can’t wait to return.
How would you summarise your weekend as a whole in India?
Well, on one hand it was a good weekend, but on the other hand we did not deliver. The fact that we were competitive on Friday and that we had good potential makes the result much sourer. It was expectation, more than anything, that caused us to be disappointed. At times, we demonstrated the car’s pace, which is why the end result was such a bitter pill to swallow. We had a few problems that didn’t allow us to be up where we hoped to be, but this sometimes happens in motor racing and the main objective now is to understand why.
Did you enjoy the overall Indian experience?
India was extremely interesting, yes. The country is a very different place from anywhere else on the map; you can experience an entirely different culture. It was a completely new race weekend experience; a new circuit which faced its own challenges and hurdles but one that showed the world it can host an F1 event. The track is a hugely enjoyable one to drive on, and I think the race was a real hit with everyone involved.
Abu Dhabi next – how much did you enjoy racing there last season?
Well, Abu Dhabi and Brazil were probably my best two races last season, where I didn’t experience any problems. I know the Yas Marina Circuit well; the track clicked with me. I really took to driving there and I think it suited me well. I really do feel we could have a strong race weekend if we put everything together, despite the fact that our car does not seem to like slow corners that much. It is going to be a long race and I think some of the other teams have a little bit of an advantage, but we are going to be pushing and will do our utmost to stay ahead of our rivals.
You talked about high expectations going into India – how will you manage your expectations as you approach the penultimate race of the season?
Well, we need to be realistic but also put in a massive effort to extract the maximum possible from the weekend. In terms of managing our expectations, fortunately we always wait until Friday to know what to expect in terms of results, and we believe that we can do a good job again in Abu Dhabi. It is a very tight group; we need to get everything 100% right to be in front of them. We are at the business end of the season now and, make no mistake, we will be putting in every ounce of effort to secure some pride for the team.
Vitaly Petrov – “I want to end the season on a high”
Vitaly returns to Abu Dhabi, a circuit now synonymous with the Russian due to his ability to keep a certain Spaniard away from the reaches of the world title last season.
Now you’ve had some time to reflect, how was your first Indian Grand Prix?
It was certainly not an easy weekend for anyone. It was a new circuit, with new tarmac and corners which certainly were not very easy. It was difficult to find the right set-up, but we had a strong car. It took us a while to find the right balance, but we know this is never easy when venturing to a new track.
The car was pretty good and relatively fast in qualifying, but I made a mistake and didn’t get into Q3, which was poor. Add that to the five place penalty and I had it all to do on the Sunday. In the race we were quick; quick enough to finish in the top eight, but it did not happen for us. We left India very disappointed, as we scored no points. I think we will be much better prepared when we go there next season.
What do you think about the Abu Dhabi circuit?
Abu Dhabi has a good atmosphere. It is a good track with a lot of spectators – even Russians – who come to watch the race.
I do in fact quite like the track. It has smooth tarmac which might mean we start the weekend in slightly dirty conditions; we shall see how prevalent this is when we get to the track.
I am naturally inclined to say I don’t know if the circuit will suit our car. When we arrive and are able to observe how the tyres are working, we will know where we are placed relative to our rivals. I hope we show signs of speed, like we have at time during the past three races. The concern is we have not exploited the potential the car has shown at the crucial times. Of course, that is always the fine line between a successful outing on track or a less successful one. Overall, I am confident it can be a good race weekend.
Last year you memorably kept Fernando Alonso behind you even though he was fighting for the championship win – what are your memories of that battle?
That was last year, that’s history. Yes, it was a good race for me as I made no mistakes and drove really well. Combining that with the circuit layout meant that Fernando was unable to overtake me, even though his car was much quicker. It must have been very hard for him being stuck behind me for so long, but honestly it was not that difficult for me to keep him behind me. That sounds quite blasé I know!
What are your goals and targets for the final two races of the season?
To score more points in these last few races – that is my first target. We have shown that we have good pace in high speed corners. We know we struggle with low speed corners but if we can stay focussed, and put every ounce of effort into these last couple of weekends with no mistakes in qualifying or during pit stops, I think good results are attainable. I want to end the season on a high.