How did it feel to stand on the podium in Panasonic Toyota Racing's home Grand Prix?
It was a fantastic feeling to stand on the podium and celebrate with all the team and our Japanese fans. My second place was a true reflection of how strong we were at Suzuka because I qualified in that position and there were no retirements at the front; we were genuinely extremely competitive. Japan is always an important race for the team and I personally love visiting the country so it was extra special from that point of view. Everyone in the team has worked so hard this season and to finish on the podium again, after Timo's second place a week ago in Singapore, was another really good reward for them.
Were you in any way disappointed not to win?
I was hoping to win the race for Toyota, of course, but second place is still a great result. The team and myself pushed to the absolute maximum all weekend and we got the best result possible; I think Red Bull were just a bit too quick for us to win. But I am certainly not disappointed; all the team, including myself, were extremely happy with another podium.
Did the weekend run smoothly in general?
Friday was not a very productive day generally because of the rain. The weather forecast said it would be dry for the rest of the weekend so there was not much to be gained from doing too many laps, which left us with a busy programme on Saturday morning. But right from the start the car felt good and the lap times were consistently very competitive so I was pretty optimistic going into qualifying.
How was qualifying?
It was quite a strange session because of all the red flags, and of course Timo's accident. The team told me quickly that Timo was okay so it wasn't a problem to concentrate on the rest of the session after that. Just like in practice we were really quick, although it was hard to judge which tyre compound was the fastest. In the end I used the soft tyres for my fastest laps but there was not much in it. I was happy with my lap in third qualifying even though I missed pole by less than a tenth of a second. It was probably the most I could get out of the car and it gave us a really good chance for another podium.
How was the race?
It was like a long qualifying session! Every lap was flat out and I was pushing right to the limit to get ahead of Lewis (Hamilton). It was hard work but the car felt great and I knew we had the speed to get past. I was just putting the pressure on and never letting up. In the end it paid off thanks to some fast lap times, a great strategy and also two perfect pit stops. Big thanks to the team for their work because it was a fantastic team effort and we got our reward.
Tell us about the start.
The start was a key point in the race. It's always a battle and I knew the cars around me would be a difficult challenge but we made a good getaway. Going into the first corner I almost held my position but Lewis overtook, which left me chasing him the whole race. I stayed right behind and just kept pushing and pushing like crazy. At the second pit stop it paid off.
Did the safety car at the end cause any concern?
It wasn't ideal because after I got past Lewis at the second pit stops I had pulled out quite a comfortable gap so there wasn't any danger. Of course the safety car got rid of that advantage so I had to start all over again but the restart went well so after that I wasn't concerned.
What about Timo? It was a difficult weekend for him...
Timo had a tough weekend unfortunately. Actually I had a similar cold and fever immediately after Singapore but recovered in time for Suzuka so I knew exactly what he was going through. It was very unfortunate he couldn't race after his accident in qualifying because I am sure he would have had a great result too. We work really well together and there is a great atmosphere so I know he was cheering me on to the podium. But he will bounce back and we will both be fighting for another positive result in Brazil.
What are your expectations for Brazil?
This season has proved it is difficult to make accurate predictions so it's hard to say. I am usually very competitive at Interlagos and last year I qualified in second place. It should suit our car and I definitely hope to be fighting at the front again after two consecutive podiums for the team but we'll have to wait and see how things go in practice.