What positives do you take out of the Silverstone weekend?
The qualifying performance was definitely a very encouraging sign as this continued our strong form from Turkey. I was in the top four in all three sessions and only a 10th of a second from the fastest time in Q2, which is usually when the fastest times of the whole weekend are set. The car felt really good and I almost got third place, although I was happy enough with fourth. So that was definitely a very positive sign, it is just a pity the race didn’t live up to our expectations.
What did you expect for the race?
From fourth place I thought we had a chance to fight for the podium and certainly we expected a strong points finish because I was on a very competitive fuel load. That all changed at the start though and after that the best we could achieve was seventh place.
What happened at the start?
We had a launch problem so the car didn’t get off the line as fast as normal and a couple of cars passed me immediately. I fought hard into the first corner and managed to hold on to seventh place even though a few cars behind me had more momentum from the start. It’s always a bit hectic in the first corner at Silverstone but I held firm.
How did the car feel during the race?
I didn’t have the same feeling I had in qualifying. The car was sliding around a bit and I think this was due to the set-up we chose on Saturday. It worked great in qualifying but the weather on race day was a little cooler than I expected so I was having some issues getting the tyres working properly. I pushed as hard as possible but the top six was just out of reach.
If that was the last British Grand Prix at Silverstone, what are your thoughts?
It wasn’t the result we expected but at least we scored points again. I have never enjoyed much luck at Silverstone to be honest and in 2004 I had the worst accident of my career there. I think the best performance I’ve had at Silverstone was last year when it was raining and I started 14th but finished seventh. The race result was the same this year but I was not as happy with my day.
Did you have any car upgrades for Silverstone? Will there be more for Nürburgring?
We brought a small package of upgrades for the British Grand Prix and they gave us some extra performance, although our rivals are also developing all the time so it’s not easy to close the gap. We definitely have the potential to do it and everyone is working really hard. As with most races this year we should have a few new items on the car at the Nürburgring which are expected to bring improved performance.
What does the German Grand Prix mean for you and the team?
Well, I am Italian so my home Grand Prix is always Monza but as part of the Toyota team I have a few other ‘second home’ races and Germany is one of them. The Nürburgring is really close to the factory so it’s a special race for a lot of the guys in the team – including Timo – and we really want to do well there. It’s nice when we can see our fans and colleagues from the factory in the grandstands and that makes us even more determined to deliver a stronger performance than Silverstone.
Do you have fond memories of the Nürburgring?
I have some great memories of the Nürburgring, particularly back in 1999 when I was on the podium for the first time in Formula 1. That was a wet race and the conditions were really difficult but, even though I didn’t have the most competitive car, I pushed to the maximum and finished second. Actually, the weather at the Nürburgring is always a question mark because it is in the hills and surrounded by forest. Even though one of my best races at the track was in the wet, I hope it stays dry for the race this year but it’s difficult to predict.
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