Even after a difficult weekend like the one just gone in Malaysia, I always try to look on the positive side and although Friday and Saturday free practice showed that the F10 was not the quickest car on the track, in the race, when I was able to run alone and in clean air, the pace was reasonable compared to the Red Bull, which was the winning car. Also, when compared to the McLarens, the verdict was quite good. In the early stages, Lewis, who along with Jenson, also joined us down the back part of the grid, was able to pass a lot of cars thanks to having excellent top speed which we were not able to match. However, after a while, I was able to close the gap on him quite easily in the later stages. So, I have to say that our race pace is good, but we still need to improve our performance over the single lap in qualifying. That is clear from the fact that Red Bull has been on pole position for all three races so far. If we improve this aspect of our package, we will therefore improve even our race performance and that is what we will be trying to do in the coming races.
There is no point avoiding the subject: our race was pretty much over by the end of the first part of qualifying on Saturday afternoon. In simple language, we made a big mistake, me and the team together. It was wrong to trust too much in the weather forecast, thinking it was going to get dryer, especially as it was already raining prior to the start of the session. We ended up on track at the wrong time and failed to get out of Q1 and it is no consolation that we were not the only team to make that mistake. It was a stupid strategic mistake really and we must learn from what happened and try not to do it again, because in such a closely contested championship, these are the sort of incidents that could win or lose the title come the end of the year.
When you line up on the grid and see around twenty cars in front of you, you know you are going to have a tough afternoon. But with the McLaren guys also having made a mess of qualifying, it meant there were four quick cars together pretty much at the back of the field. I am sure we managed to keep the crowd entertained between us, because when you start from the back and are fighting all the way with a duel almost every lap, the race went by very quickly and you can almost not believe it when you see the chequered flag and realise the race is over. When you start from the front of the grid, the race gives the impression of being much longer in your mind. Although I enjoyed the fighting on track in Sepang, I would definitely have preferred it if the race had seemed to be a long one!
Still wanting to stay positive, I must say whenever you look at the championship classification and see your name at the top of the page, which is the situation I found myself in after Sepang, it is a nice feeling. But it doesn’t count for much after just three races. We must keep pushing for the rest of the year, because seeing your name at the top of the page becomes much more important later on than it is now. All the same, it’s a good situation to be in.
I heard people in Malaysia on Sunday saying that Red Bull was now by far the quickest car and it is true they were in the first two rows of the grid. But over a race distance, I believe the story is a bit different and you have to remember that in Sepang, they were racing pretty much on their own as the two teams who would have pushed them hardest, started from so far back. You need to keep that in mind when assessing the race. They are definitely not unstoppable, but we need to improve a bit to be in a better position to stop them. Now I am back in Monaco with the family and, apart from the next trip to China, this will be my base now for most of the European summer. For my son, this was his first really long flight from Brazil and it took him some time to get used to the time difference, not that I can explain the idea of jet lag to him just yet!