I arrived home in Sao Paolo on Monday and looking back at the weekend, after what seemed like a long time of preparation and testing, it felt good to have finally gone racing again in Melbourne, because while developing the car in testing is enjoyable work, the thing we drivers like best is fighting against other drivers on track. The Australian Grand Prix did not go the way myself and the team had expected, as we were not as competitive as we had thought we would be, based on the winter performance. If there is one lesson we take away with us after the opening round is that we have a lot of work to do. We urgently need to find out exactly what happened in Australia, understanding what we did and what the other teams did. We did not come away with as many points as we thought we could score in the first race, so we have to get back to where we want to be by the next race.
I was asked many times over last weekend what surprised me most, the pace of the Red Bulls or of the McLarens. The answer is that I was more surprised by Red Bull, because what Vettel did in qualifying was very impressive. It’s true that McLaren seemed to have made a step forward, but Red Bull was really far ahead of everyone else. As for ourselves, our car is better than it looked in Melbourne and it is hard to explain exactly why we failed to deliver, which is why we have to arrive in Malaysia with the car we actually built, not the car we raced last weekend.
We did not have to wait long to see the effect of the adjustable rear wing and KERS on the racing, with my fight in the early part with Jenson. You could see he could get much closer to me on the straight: even if he did not manage to get very close on the previous corner, by the end of the straight he was alongside me. Clearly the rear wing helped him, although in the end, he only got past me by cutting the corner. During the battle, I feel I did a very good job of defending my position by using KERS, knowing how to save the power until it was time to use it at exactly the right moment so he could not get past. But it’s definitely easier to be the attacker than the defender in this situation. I’m sure it was exciting for the spectators and it was a shame that after the incident I did not have the pace to keep fighting him. I expected him to give back the position after he got by, because the rules are clear you must do this if you cut a chicane and Jenson is experienced enough to know that, without having to wait for the team to tell him what to do. After he got by, Alonso also got past me, as I ended up being quite slow because of the fight with Jenson. And given that Fernando pitted before me, that left Jenson with another chance to give me back position but he did not. Later in the race, I passed Buemi, because I had better tyres than him and I could use the wing as well. To be honest it was not that easy, because even if the wing helped me get close I could not pull alongside, as we did not have the best top speed last weekend, but in the end, I braked much later than him because of the better tyres and got by that way.
Now I am spending just a few days in Brazil, for what is my last visit here for a few months and it is also useful to help prepare for the next race in Malaysia, as it is very hot at the moment in Sao Paolo. Then on Sunday, I fly to Kuala Lumpur when I hope that we can begin to prepare for a more competitive race weekend.