“As I sit here at my home in Monaco, on Tuesday afternoon, I can see the rain falling on the window, so it promises to be a complicated and exciting weekend for my second home race after Brazil, the Monaco Grand Prix. I have been back in Monaco since Monday as luckily my flight plan was unaffected by the ash cloud problem that appears to be following F1 around the globe! Whatever happens, I hope it will be a better weekend than the one in Barcelona, which was a bit like my Chinese Grand Prix experience, in that I struggled from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon to find any grip from the tyres. On the positive side, all the hard work carried out after China improved the car quite a bit, compared to its previous performance level, but it was not enough if you look how strong Red Bull was in Spain, and other teams also found some more speed. Now, we need to make a bigger step forward as soon as possible, so that we can be in a position to fight the teams that are currently ahead of us in terms of their car package.
“This weekend, even if there will be no major changes on the F10, I expect we can be more competitive, mainly because Bridgestone is bringing the Super Soft and Medium tyres here and I much prefer using this combination. We had the same tyre choices in Bahrain, where I was much happier than at the other races, in terms of the grip levels I found from the tyres. I hope therefore that I will be able to exploit more of my car’s potential. In general, the grip situation is something we have to look at, as well as finding an overall improvement to the level of aero downforce we have. So let’s see if the engineers can find something between the last race and this one, where we will not be using the new “blown” rear wing, because on this slow circuit, you need the downforce more than top speed.
“Getting the car to work as well as possible on Saturday afternoon will be even more important than usual, because if traffic has always been a problem at this race, with four more cars out on track at the same time this year, and without wishing to be too critical, I would say six rather slow cars out on track, Q1 can become a lottery. No doubt we will use a different strategic approach to qualifying, maybe fuelling the car to do a few more laps than usual, to have a safety margin, so that you are not left without a competitive time in Q1. In fact, Sunday’s race will also see traffic play its part, because even if strategic choices are different this year with no refuelling, trying to avoid coming out of the pits and finding yourself in slow traffic, could make or break your race. In the end, even if the race engineers will be monitoring the situation closely in the race, you need an element of luck to get it completely right.
“On Wednesday, we start all the work we do on a Thursday at a normal race and from then on, I will travel to and from the paddock and my home by scooter which only takes a few minutes. It is one of the big advantages of this race for me in that I can sleep in my own bed instead of a hotel room and not have to think about packing a suitcase. Before that, this afternoon (Tuesday) I am playing in a charity football match – our team of drivers, the Nazionale Piloti against a team put together by Prince Albert of Monaco. I play as a forward, because you are nearer the goal like that, which means it’s a bit like starting a race from the front row of the grid! The opposition probably includes some professional players which can make life difficult for us. As for my real job, I hope I find a much more consistent car this weekend, the car l like driving, the car I had at the beginning of the season. That’s all I ask for, so that I can do a good job.”