I’m already home from the trip to Abu Dhabi which ended on a high note. Yesterday’s second place is definitely a better result than we had expected going into the weekend, but what gave me the most satisfaction was the speed we had for practically the whole race. It was a good battle with Hamilton: at some points he was quicker and at others I was. Usually, at the start of a stint, he was able to pull out a bit of a gap, but then I’d close it in the final part, especially when we were both on the Softs. In the second stint the traffic also added to this sort of elastic movement between us, but it’s hard to say which of us it affected most. Having analysed the data in last night’s debrief, it was also clearly the case that the little problem at the second pit stop did not impact on the final result: I would not have been able to get back out on track ahead of Hamilton, who was immediately quick on the Medium tyres. In fact the ability to get the most out of the tyres right from the very first lap, is one of the areas we need to work on for next year.
Bringing home a trophy from Abu Dhabi was very pleasing for me, but I’ve realised I made a statistical error, when I said that in my collection I have at least one trophy from each of the Grand Prix venues since I’ve raced in Formula 1: I’m missing one from Austria where I raced only twice, in 2001 and 2003, failing to finish on both occasions. The first time was in a Minardi, when the gearbox let me down, the second was when I was with Renault and the engine failed. Well, I’m not sure if the Austrian Grand Prix will ever return to the calendar, but if it did happen, then that would be just an extra reason to try and make it to the podium!
Still on the subject of statistics, yesterday’s podium was the twentieth of my “red” career, which means that I have managed to finish in the top three in over half the races I have driven for Ferrari. This shows that even in a year like this, which has not been so fantastic, in terms of our car’s performance, the average level is still very high. It’s not by chance that over the last eighteen years, the Scuderia has managed to win at least one Grand Prix per season. No other team can say the same and factors like this also influenced my decision to extend my contract with Ferrari for such a long time. I know many of you will think it would have been better if I could have come second in Abu Dhabi a year ago. I know it too, but there’s no point in thinking about what might have been, also because I am sure that the time will come sooner or later when we can obtain the satisfaction that has eluded us so far. I am sure that from now until 2016 there will be many more bottles of champagne for me to hand to the mechanics as I come down the steps from the podium!
I’m on my way to Abu Dhabi, where I will arrive this evening ahead of the penultimate round of this long season. We’ve now come to the end of the championship: there’s still second place in the drivers’ standings to play for but, to be honest, I would we much happier if we could add another win to the one we took at Silverstone in July. Talking to the guys in the team I can see they would really love to give me the chance to come second in the championship. I’m delighted it’s like that because I know they feel it would be some kind of recognition for the efforts that have been put in by everyone during the season. But you know how we drivers are made: we always want to come first and the other positions are less important.
I completely appreciate that winning will be very difficult. In this closing part of the season the relative positions are very clear but we have also seen there are some conditions in which we can fight for victory: as happened in Suzuka, for example. We know if we all get everything right we can fight for the top three but our natural qualifying position is on the third row. Then in the race things can go differently but that is the realistic situation. So our target is the podium. Apart from anything else that result would allow me to fill a gap in my trophy cabinet as Abu Dhabi is the only race on the calendar from which I have yet to bring home silverware.
I’m sure that the most frequent question in tomorrow’s press briefings will be about my return to the Yas Marina circuit after last year’s race. It would not be honest if I told you I won’t be a bit uncomfortable thinking about it tomorrow morning when I see the paddock for the first time. But then the feeling will vanish and it will leave room for the present, which is about aiming to do well this weekend and in the future: to learn as much as possible with next season in mind. It’s right that it should be like that because in sport, as in the rest of life, you must always look ahead. Abu Dhabi 2010 was an important stage in my career and I have no doubt that even through that bad day, my relationship with Ferrari has become even stronger.