To be honest, I was disappointed because qualifying went so well and expectations were high that we could challenge for Toyota's first victory. I expected more than third place but it wasn't to be unfortunately, although I did set the fastest lap of the race which shows the potential of the car.
Is that disappointment a sign of the progress the team has made?
Absolutely. To be disappointed with third place makes such a difference compared to the previous few seasons. Last year my third place at Magny-Cours was a really special moment and the season before it was pretty much impossible to get near the podium so you can see that we have made a really big step this year. We have three podiums already from four races and that is the same number we had from the previous three seasons combined.
How did it feel to be back on pole position?
That was a great feeling on Saturday. It was not an easy qualifying session for me because we had a little issue with the brakes but I knew I had car which was quick enough to challenge for pole position so I never gave up. It was great for the team and personally it was a good feeling to be back on pole position.
What happened in the race?
I lost a position to Timo at the start because of a small oil spillage which meant the engine didn't pull away as well as it should have. Obviously it would have been better to be leading but I had quite a dramatic battle with Lewis (Hamilton); we were wheel to wheel so it was exciting and I kept second place. The car was feeling pretty good and I set the fastest lap of the race on lap 10. But at my first stop we went with the medium tyres and on those I was just defending against cars lighter than me on the super soft tyres. The other guys at the front waited until the final stint to use the medium tyres and in hindsight that was probably the right decision. I had Sebastian (Vettel) right behind me and at the final stop he got past. We went on to the super soft tyres and I was faster than him; I pushed as hard as I could but just couldn't overtake. It didn't work out for us but we still did a good race and finished on the podium.
From three podiums in three seasons to three in four races; what has changed?
Everyone in the team has worked so hard on this car and now we are seeing the rewards. In Formula 1 you have to push as hard as you can at all times and we have never given up fighting, so our improvement is really down to hard work from everyone. But you need experience as well and after seven seasons in Formula 1, Toyota is much more experienced so we understand more how to make the car quick and get the best out of it.
Can the team continue to be one of the front-runners when the European season begins?
I believe we have a good chance to be competitive all season but of course we have to keep on working hard, then time will tell. The car is really competitive right now and we are focused on what we are doing so I'm sure we can continue to fight at the front. Naturally, those teams who have historically been successful, but have struggled so far this season, are always capable of improving so we have to continue our development and never give up pushing. I have faith in my team.
On the podium you highlighted your support for the victims of the Abruzzo earthquake, how is the campaign going?
It is going very well. As I'm sure many people know, I have set up a website, www.abruzzonelcuore.org, to raise money for the people who have suffered in this dramatic event and already we have raised more than €17,000 so I am really pleased. We have had a lot of support from other drivers who have offered items to auction and I will keep pushing through the season to do what I can to help. The GPDA are officially supporting the project and we've had a lot of support from throughout Formula 1.