I am preparing to leave Sao Paolo to return to Europe for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, having spent all my free time since the Hungarian Grand Prix at home here in Brazil. Usually, when you go on holiday it involves some sort of journey, but with all the travelling involved in my job, for me the ideal holiday is being at home and not having to see an airport, sit on a plane or stay in a hotel. Therefore, staying at home with my family was the ideal break for me, catching up with everything going on here and meeting up with old friends. During the year, when I get the chance to stay in Brazil for a while, I admit that I miss my home country for a while after I leave, but knowing that I am returning to racing again is all the incentive I need to get on the plane back to Monaco.
It’s winter time now in Brazil, but to put that in perspective, the daytime temperature is still around 23 or 24 degrees, so nothing to complain about! Apart from keeping up my fitness training, I really managed to switch off for a while doing very little, although last weekend, I was at the Interlagos circuit that hosts the Brazilian Grand Prix later this year: my family organises a racing event so it was good to hear the sound of racing engines again. We run three different race categories here, in conjunction with FIAT. One is an open-wheeler category, similar to Formula 2, called Formula Future, which as the name suggests is aimed at finding young racing talent from the next generation. It is an important step for racing here, as for many years there was no “school” class with single-seater cars, which is why we wanted to do something for motor sport in Brazil. There is a category for Touring Cars also, using the FIAT Linea and finally there is a 600cc motorcycle class. It was the third round of the season and it was fun to be at a racetrack without all the pressure of racing myself.
Although it was a very quiet holiday, I am fully prepared for this weekend in Spa, as I kept in touch with the engineers, even though they were not working in the factory. We look in good shape, with some new parts coming as part of our constant development programme on the F10. The last time I raced here was in 2008 and it’s not just because I won the race that I love this track. I think all the drivers look forward to racing on this fabulous circuit. It is high speed, requiring less downforce than at many of the other tracks and fortunately, in the last few races, we showed that we have returned to being very competitive, even better than we had expected. But it is very hard to predict what could happen, as the small differences between the top teams means that performance has been very much track specific in terms of who had the slight advantage over the rest. As usual we need to wait and see how free practice goes before knowing what to expect.
There are only seven races left to go and I think that for the spectators and viewers at least, it should be a really exciting final part of the year, even if it might be a bit more tense for those of competing. But myself and Ferrari have been in this sort of situation before and we know how to deal with the pressure, by concentrating on the job in hand. Now we must build on the way we ended up just before the break, being competitive and putting ourselves back in the fight. I am definitely really motivated to get back in the cockpit because, even if I enjoyed the short holiday, I have to say I missed driving my race car and I can’t think of a better place to start again than at Spa. Even if it rains – and when didn’t we see water at Spa? – this is still a very enjoyable track to drive and actually it can be good fun in the wet. We just have to make sure we are ready to make the most of whatever the weekend throws at us.