Lots of people are asking me what it’s like coming to the end of my first full year in F1, and how I felt about it all this time last year. Sorry to disappoint but I didn’t have a clue in Valencia that it would be my final race as a Toro Rosso Friday driver – I only found out about going to HRT about a week later. My recollection of Valencia last year was that I was trying to do my thing: trying to learn, trying to be ready.
Valencia’s a hell of a nice place. As you may have gathered, my criteria for judging is based on how like Perth a place is. Valencia has typical Western Australian weather, it’s hot and dry and there’s plenty of water around so yes, this is good. It’s also got a nice buzz, hanging out by the marina, I could get used to this.
'A heat chamber is very similar to being on a bike in a sauna'
Obviously coming into summer (I’m calling it summer, obviously June and July is really the middle of winter) we’re probably going to have some seriously hot races: here, Germany perhaps, Hungary (track temp probably won’t be 40°C at Silverstone). You do alter your training to take account of that.
If you want to take it to extremes, you can always get in a heat chamber, which, if you’ve never had that pleasure, is very similar to being on a bike in a sauna but a little bit safer. I won’t be doing that just yet – though I might use it before Singapore – but I will want to work on my endurance a little bit more than normal, so maybe less time in the gym and more time outside running and cycling.
But back to this weekend in lovely Valencia, I think we’re due to score some points. The team is pushing ever so, ever so hard but the fact remains in the last few races we haven’t been quite good enough. All things being equal, we haven’t been as quick as our rivals. A bit of luck might be enough for us but it would be better to find something this weekend and take luck out of the equation.
As the driver, you’re not a bystander in that process: you can do things to influence it and one of the things about getting more experienced is that I’m learning about how I can be more useful. I speak to Ricky, my engineer, (Riccardo Adami) all the time when we’re away from an event.
We talk about strategies, what we did last week, what we can do better next week, what we should try on Fridays. We discuss everything down to the level of deciding what to try in which corners. It’s all about trying to find something that can give you a little bit of an edge.
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