02 November 2021 Hola Mexico!
“It was a shame I had to retire in Austin as we could have got both cars home in the top 10 and made up a couple more points to Alpine. But overall, it was a strong event with both cars in Q3, clearly outperforming Aston Martin and Alpine all weekend. So even with two DNFs in the last four races, the fight for fifth place in the championship is still very much on.
We now have a triple-header and it’s the first time we have travelled this far from home for a couple of seasons. Rest, recovery and sleeping well will be important because it’s going to be quite complicated with all the different time zones. Since Austin, I returned to Europe to go on the simulator so I’ve crossed the time zone again and now we’re heading to Mexico to start these three races, with long flights and a change of continent. It’s important to be at 100% for each of these races. In terms of the car itself it’s a case of getting the best out of a package that we now know very well, the other important factor is that some of the upcoming circuits will suit us better than others.
The last time we came to Mexico in 2019 I finished ninth. It’s the sort of track where you have to be on top form, especially with the altitude which makes things more complicated. You certainly feel it if you go running, but when you’re in the car you don’t notice, although it does put more of a strain on the car, the Power Unit, the brakes, in fact any part where cooling is required. And on the aero side we run maximum downforce, but the air density means the cars feel as though you have less wing than at Monza and you slide around a lot. Every year, the crowd is amazing and this year I expect it will be really crazy given the success that Checo and Red Bull are having this year. The atmosphere is incredible.”
“It was a good weekend in Austin, getting into Q3 again and scoring points. I enjoyed the whole race week. I performed quite consistently, improving all the time, with very busy free practice sessions as we improved the car and I got used to the track. I knew the pace was there and that I just had to put it all together for Qualifying. It was a good step.
We now have three races in a row and I expect it will be very tough, moving around with long flights in between and a complicated jet lag situation. These three tracks will be completely new to me and they look quite tricky. On top of that, in Brazil we have the Sprint Qualifying format again, which means less free practice. I am going to once again focus on making progress through the sessions and stick to my plan. I am keen to see what effect the altitude in Mexico City will have on me, as I have never driven before in these conditions. With a helmet on, I can imagine it could be quite difficult and demanding on the neck and arms, but apparently the main effect is on your heart rate. I don’t normally have any issue with heart rate, but in my training recently, to prepare for Mexico, I have focussed more on endurance with this in mind. I’ve been told Mexico has one of the biggest Japanese communities in Latin America so maybe I can find some good Japanese restaurants! My only experience of all three of the tracks of this triple-header is on the simulator. Mexico seems like quite a special track, very different to normal, especially sector one, which is really tight with many 90 degree corners and some slow turns, one of which is only around 60 to 70 km/h. I heard that because of the altitude the thinner air has a big impact on the aero downforce so all these factors mean I think Mexico will be very interesting but not such an easy experience for me.”