Q. Fernando, you had to retire early from your second home Grand Prix in Valencia. You must have been extremely disappointed…
FA: I knew that my weekend would be difficult after qualifying – starting so far down the field on a street circuit is never where you want to be. I was hit on the first lap and lost my rear wing. My mechanics did everything to try and get me back out, but my race was already compromised. I’m disappointed not to have been able to drive in front of my supporters as I wanted to give them a special race, but that’s in the past now and I am looking forward to the race in Belgium.
Q. As you say, this weekend is the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa. Is it a circuit that you enjoy?
FA: Spa is one of those exceptional circuits on the Formula One calendar. Like all the older circuits, there is always a very special and warm atmosphere. For the drivers, Spa is an unbelievable challenge and is a very enjoyable place to drive a Formula One car. I have never won at Spa and hope that one day I can add a win here to my list of achievements.
Q. What are the demands of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit?
FA: It’s a very long circuit, which generally emphasises the gaps between the cars. It requires a very complete car and so we will have to work hard on the set-up to make sure we are competitive in the quick sections as well as in the slower corners. The compression in Eau Rouge is still an impressive part of the circuit.
Q. Do you think you can have a strong race in Spa as the team chases fourth position in the constructors’ championship?
FA: Even though the European Grand Prix turned out to be a race to forget, we should not lower our aims. I am sure that the team is giving 100% to achieve our objective and I will also give my maximum to try and get a strong result and score some points. At the beginning of the season things were not easy, but we have improved and we are determined to continue in this direction.
Q. Nelson, you didn’t score any points in the European Grand Prix. What do you take from this first race in Valencia?
NP: The organisers did a great job of producing a really interesting circuit and I particularly enjoyed the final sector. There was also a really welcoming atmosphere for the whole weekend – it’s just a shame to come away without any points. I knew after qualifying that scoring points would not be easy and that I would have to rely on incidents in the race to move up, but in the end it was quite a straightforward race. Plus, the fact that my front wing was broken didn’t help. So it’s a race to put behind us and I am now concentrating on the Belgian Grand Prix and the other races ahead of us.
Q. The team is preparing for two legendary races: Spa-Francorchamps and Monza. Do you enjoy these races?
NP: Yes, along with Monaco, these two circuits are unique and have earned their place in the history of Formula One. I’m looking forward to these races, especially as Spa is one of the circuits that I enjoy above all – it’s probably my favourite of the championship, along with Silverstone. In terms of driving, it’s a demanding place and I will have to do lots of work with my engineers so that we can adapt the car as much as possible to the requirements of the track.
Q. Why is Spa so unusual?
NP: It’s an undulating circuit and very long. There are lots of fast corners, as well as one of the slowest of the championship. In terms of the feeling from inside the cockpit, it feels amazing and there is nothing like it anywhere else. I think that’s why most of the drivers really enjoy this circuit.
Q. What are your ambitions for the Belgian Grand Prix?
NP: I think that Valencia did not reflect our true performance. As we have shown in the last few races, we are capable of scoring points and this is what we must keep in mind so that we can remain focussed as we approach this race. My objective will be to reach Q3 in qualifying and hope for a good start in the race to try and finish in the points. I have to admit that I would prefer a dry race, but in Belgium you never know!