CHINESE GP INTERVIEWS WITH RUBENS BARRICHELLO & PASTOR MALDONADO
Despite a frustrating start to the year in Australia and Malaysia, Rubens remains bullish about his chances in this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. This is what he had to say prior to the start of the on-track action in Shanghai.
What are your hopes for the weekend ahead?
RB: To have a clean weekend without any problems. I also think we can be competitive because we have some new parts to try here. If we can get them to work as we hope, and be reliable, I think a top six position in qualifying is possible. Even if we have to revert to the old layout, we’ll be looking at top 12 because the FW33 is a good car.
What effect has the team’s difficult start to the year had on you?
RB: It hasn’t been the dream start that we all wanted and it’s been hard not to be disappointed. But everyone’s working flat-out to turn the situation around and we’re hoping for a much brighter weekend here than we had in Malaysia.
What have you been up to since the Malaysian Grand Prix?
RB: I went to Thailand, which was fantastic. The weather was great and I bumped into a few people from the F1 paddock, like Christian Horner and David Coulthard. I played a bit of golf while I was there and I’ll be keeping a close eye on this weekend’s Malaysian Open. I’ve played at the club where the Open’s taking place, so I know what the guys will be going through.
You’ve won at the Shanghai International Circuit before. What are your memories of that day?
RB: My abiding memory is having a champagne shower with [Ferrari president] Mr Montezemolo on the podium! It was quite a tough race because everyone had a lot of graining on the front tyres, but I was able to hold on until the end.
This is Pastor’s first season in Formula One, but he has set himself ambitious goals. He hopes to realise some of those objectives in China this weekend.
How do you feel going into your first Chinese Grand Prix?
PM: I’m happy; I think we can get a good result. We’ve had a frustrating start to the year, for sure, but the reason it’s been frustrating is because we haven’t realised the potential of the car. We keep getting stopped by little problems, but we need to keep working and keep doing our best.
What is a realistic goal for you in Sunday’s race?
PM: To finish in the points. Our race pace is better than our qualifying pace, although we’re hoping to improve our qualifying pace here with a few set-up changes.
The Shanghai International Circuit is another new track for you. Do you like what you’ve seen?
PM: I walked around it for the first time on Wednesday and, prior to that, I’d driven it on the simulator at the factory. It doesn’t look that difficult. It’s quite technical and Turn One looks quite challenging. It has a very fast entry, at more than 310kph.
Will tyre wear be a factor here?
PM: I expect it to be more or less the same as in Malaysia. It depends on the track temperature, but we’re not expecting the asphalt to be as hot here as it was at Sepang. We need to do some long runs during Friday practice and see how it looks.
Has the lack of race mileage to date affected your confidence in the car?
PM: Not at all. I’m very confident when I’m in the car, which is one of my good characteristics as a driver. I don’t need to run thousands of miles to get used to the car. I just need a trouble-free weekend in order to show everyone what I can do.
There have been technical updates on the car at every race. What difference have they made to the performance?
PM: The new front wing in Malaysia made a small difference; everything is a step in the right direction. We have a bigger step on Rubens’ car here and we’re excited to see how it works out. There hasn’t been enough time to get two lots of the update to China, but if it works out as we hope, it will be on my car at the next race in Turkey.