Italy offers a lot: good food, nice places and I think this is the reason you will find a lot of Germans on the beaches there for their holidays! I spent a lot of time when I was young karting in Italy so I got to know a few places like Lake Garda, Napoli in Northern Italy, and Parma, which has a great karting circuit. The level of karting is quite high in Italy because there are a lot of manufacturers there. I have some friends in Italy from the karting days and also Toro Rosso so it is nice to go back there. For me one of the best places is obviously Monza for the race circuit, which is one of the fastest tracks we go to. The 5.793 km long track has brutal deceleration points, is especially tough on the brakes and the tyres are also heavily loaded, especially in the fast corners such as the Curva Grande and Parabolica. It is extremely difficult in Monza to get a perfect lap because it is almost impossible to hit every curve and every chicane in the way you want.


The biggest challenges at Monza nowadays are the braking zones. The first chicane is the ultimate example: you’re coming down to that first chicane at the highest speed an F1 car will reach all year and you’re braking into one of the tightest corners you’ll take all year. Added to that you’re doing this with the least amount of downforce you’ll have all year – which means the car tends to slide around quite a bit as well as taking longer to stop. You can’t afford to lock a brake but equally you can’t lose time by being too eager on the pedal. It demands that you are really focused all of the time. I’m not really that keen on super-long straights; I find them a little dull compared to hammering through a series of demanding corners but Monza is the exception to that. There’s something about flashing through those trees in front of that massive crowd that definitely gets the pulse all the way up! Also the crowd in Monza is wild. Obviously it’s full-on Ferrari but in the past they’ve always been very generous to me. I’d love to get the opportunity to stand on that brilliant podium and find out!


1. Favourite Italian food / meal?
Pizza or gnocchi al ragu
2. Favourite pizza topping?
That’s a difficult choice. Let’s say speck and mascarpone
3. Espresso, café latte, cappuccino or americano?
4. Favourite flavour of gelato?
Stracciatella – it’s like chocolate chip. It’s good, it just gets you by!
5. Favourite Italian word?
‘Strepitoso’, it’s like a very exaggerated word for amazing. If something is ‘strepitoso’ then it’s out of this world!
6. Best Italian expression your relations have taught you (parents, grandparents etc)
‘Grande!’ I used to say that a lot – it was the first word I learnt when I lived in Italy, if things are good then just say grande!
7. Favourite Serie A team
I’m not a big soccer fan, but guess that would be Juventus
8. Favourite place in Italy and you’re not allowed to name a race track?
Viareggio – I lived there when I was younger, when I was racing. It’s on the coast near Pisa and is sort of a beach town. It was a good year that I lived there.
9. Monza, Mugello, Misano, Vallelunga or Imola?
Mugello – it’s fast and flowing
10. Favourite famous Italian person?
Valentino Rossi!
11. Top Italian racing driver?
Tazio Nuvolari