Congratulations on second place. How did it feel?
It was a fantastic result and in particular it was great for the whole team who have worked so hard all year. We have fought as hard as possible and the guys have given everything so I was really happy for them to get back on the podium.
Tell us about your start...
I was a bit disappointed actually because my target was to get past Fernando (Alonso) at the start and I didn't quite manage. We knew for our strategy to work that we had to be in front of him. But then I saw he was fighting with Mark (Webber); they both ran wide and then at the next corner I saw a small gap and just went for it. I had to be careful not to hit Mark in front but I held it together and got ahead of Fernando. That was a crucial moment for our race because after that we could really make our strategy work and it got us on the podium.
How did the rest of the race go?
I was just concentrating really hard on maintaining my lap times and not making any mistakes. On a street circuit like this it is easy to make mistakes but I kept focused and stuck to our strategy. At the first pit stops it was clear a podium was a real possibility and the pit crew did a great job at my stops; we lost no time. The race was pretty tough because of the humidity but it went smoothly and it was a great feeling to cross the line in second place.
How tough was it to drive in such heat and humidity?
It's really tough on a driver and that's why you need to do so much fitness work throughout the season to make sure you are able to cope with situations like that. The humidity is more of a problem than the heat because it just feels like you are constantly sweating so you need to drink a lot of fluids and try to cool down whenever you get the chance otherwise you overheat. In the race it was just unbelievable; my gloves were completely wet! I think everyone could see when the drivers are getting out of their cars how draining it is to push to the limit in conditions like that. But when you are behind the wheel you don't really think about it; you just focus on pushing as hard as possible.
How do you assess the updates to the TF109?
I was happy with the new package and I have to say thanks to everyone back in Cologne who worked so hard to get them on the car for this weekend. It's really important, particularly nowadays in Formula 1, to be developing all the time and it's nice we could bring some new parts for this race. As soon as we put them on the car for first practice they were working fine which was already a good sign considering it's no longer possible to test new parts on the track before a race weekend. I think we got some extra performance from the new package and now I am interested to see how it will work for Suzuka.
How was qualifying?
I have to say in a way it was a bit strange because in Q1 I was only 15th even though the car felt pretty good; the lap time just wasn't there. But in Q2 when I had another set of new options I was immediately a second faster and the car felt really good. I was fifth fastest in that session so you can see the difference! I don't know why that happened but obviously it gave me confidence for Q3 to be already in the top six. In the end Q3 was frustrating because I didn't get the chance to do a final lap on new options after the red flag in the final minute. My previous lap was on used options so they were past their best and I know I had more potential in terms of lap time. Still, it was great to be back in the top 10 and also starting in the top six.
How did the track evolve during the weekend?
At the start of the weekend, in first practice in particular, it was incredibly dusty. There was very little grip and that caused problems in terms of traction. You expect this at a street circuit so it was no surprise and, as expected, it improved a lot as more rubber went on the racing line. Already in second practice it was much better and this trend continued all through the weekend, even if it was still very dusty off line.
Did you cope well with the unusual timetable?
It was absolutely fine for me. The whole team stayed on European time and the only time this was a little tricky was when I first arrived. After a long flight you are tired anyway so it's not easy to stay awake all through the day and late into the night on your first day but you have to do your best otherwise you don't adjust. After that it was fine; my whole schedule is focused on what happens on the track so even though it seems a bit strange, you get used to it.