Shanghai is a very open, very wide circuit but it does flow nicely and the middle sector is a lot of fun. The back
straight provides a good overtaking opportunity into the hairpin but it is quite long; I always think back to when I came here as a kid in Formula BMW – massive hair and lots of enthusiasm – and trust me, then, it was the sort of straight where I’d have definitely been reaching for a book if I’d had one! It’s a bit different driving it in an F1 car. The circuit has a decent mix of low- and high-speed corners and one of the key things is to have a set-up that gives you good traction out of the two tight ‘snail’ corners.
The Grand Prix in China is still something special for me, because I won my first race there with Red Bull Racing in 2009. Due to its size, the circuit is unique. The wide stretches mean there are many possible places and opportunities to overtake. Also, the large run-off areas ensure the highest standard of safety. Even the usually narrow pit complex offers plenty of space in Shanghai. As far as the city of Shanghai goes, if I have time to go into the city I like to go to the Bund.
Favourite guest who has driven on the simulator during your time in charge?
He’s not really in motorsport, but I think it would be Ray Winston, the actor, because he’s a geezer.
Favourite interlude between back-to-back races (if not required back in MK)?
I think it has to be Austin to Brazil. Last year we went to see the astronauts at NASA, so that was pretty good.
Favourite circuit from which to leave the track on time in the evenings? And why?
Austin, because it’s such a great city and the food there is fantastic. You can try and get away on time and enjoy some of the culture and live music.
Favourite seat on the plane – window or aisle?
That’s going to depend on whether it’s long haul or a short European trip. If it’s a short flight then it’s got to be the aisle, if you’re on a long haul then it’s a window seat so you can sleep and don’t get disturbed.
Travel routine – give us your favourite / most useful three items to take in your hand luggage?
A book, headphones and an iPad.
Which podium(s) have you / do you want to stand on?
Silverstone, because it’s my home race. I haven’t stood on it yet though!
Favourite track to run in the evenings? (and least favourite).
My most favourite track is Spa, as it’s long and a challenge. The least favourite would be somewhere hot like Malaysia. The humidity was a real challenge this year.
Favourite first corner?
I think Spa, as there is always some action happening there.