In a few days, the European Grand Prix weekend gets underway. It’s the second race of the season held in Spain and it is an important one for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro and for me, as it presents another opportunity for me to race in front of my fans. To tell the truth, I’ve never been that lucky in this race since it’s been held on the Valencia street circuit, especially last year when, despite having a very competitive car, I finished down in eighth place. However, everyone remembers what happened with the appearance of the Safety Car and there’s no point going over it again. I always believe that luck and bad luck balance out by the end of the season and maybe this unwritten rule also applies to race tracks. If that’s the case, I would be more than happy if last year’s misfortune was paid back now! In fact, it seems that in general so far this season, luck has not come our way: in the race in Montreal, not one damned thing went right.
I know that our fans are eagerly awaiting our first win of the season and I can assure you that the same goes for us. At the last two races, we showed we were clearly capable of winning and, especially in Monaco, we came pretty close, although I believe that even in Canada I could have fought for it all the way to the end, given what we had seen in qualifying. Now we go to a track with reasonably similar characteristics to Montreal and there is no obvious reason why we should not be competitive here too. The 150º Italia will be pretty much in the same configuration seen at the last race and the major new element will be the race debut of the Pirelli Medium compound tyre, running alongside the Soft. Over the winter, I got the chance to test this tyre, but now it will be a completely different ball game, given that the difference in temperature compared to February and March will be of the order of 20 degrees and because the Valencia track characteristics definitely cannot be compared to those of Jerez and Barcelona, nor to the permanent track at Cheste, around twenty kilometres from the city centre. In Montreal, we were able to assess these tyres during the two free practice sessions on Friday, but it’s one thing to do a few laps on a track that is not necessarily that well adapted to this type of tyre and quite another to evaluate it in depth with an eye on qualifying and the race.
I feel special ties to the city of Valencia as it has become something of a symbolic place in the history of my relationship with Ferrari. It was in fact in Cheste that I made my first public appearance after having signed my first contract with Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, at the 2009 Ferrari Days event and it was also at this track that I had my first official drive of a Formula 1 Ferrari, on 3 February last year. Well, maybe that means it’s time to add another “first” to this story…And actually, I have already won the European Grand Prix twice before, when the race was run at the Nurburgring: as the saying goes, “never two without three…”