Sergio, it is almost two months since you last drove a Formula One car – what have you been doing since then?
The time in the winter goes by really quickly! It’s always important for me to take a break from my normal routine and return to Mexico to recover from the season. I have been doing some training, but the main priority is always to relax a bit and have some quiet days with my family. I didn’t stop racing completely because I always enjoy racing karts when I go back home. It’s good fun to race with my brother and friends. We only race for fun and there is no pressure.
So you’re feeling refreshed and ready to get back to work?
It’s good to have a holiday, but I have missed sitting in my Formula One car: it is the best feeling in the world and I can’t wait to try my new car. My motivation is extremely high.
How do you look back on 2014?
There was a lot to learn at first because it was a new team for me and there were new regulations. To begin with it took some time to establish myself in the team. I obviously had the podium in Bahrain early in the season, but I also had some bad luck in the first few races. The second half of the year was more satisfying because I was settled in the team and I could really push the car and get consistent results. Bahrain, Canada, Austria, Italy and Singapore are the races that I remember the most.
What lessons did you take away from 2014?
I learned how to work in a different environment and to make the most of every resource available to me. As soon as I arrived I could see huge potential and I knew we could achieve great things if we continued working with the same approach.
Tell us about the strengths of Sahara Force India…
I think the main strength is the people and the attitude in the team. You feel that it’s easy to communicate; everybody wants to listen and it’s a very productive way of working. I remember at the start of last year I was comparing everything with my old team [McLaren] and I have to say I was really impressed when I arrived. Everybody knows their job and all the energy is focussed on taking the team forward. I saw the emotion in Bahrain when we finished on the podium – it gave everybody a taste of success, and we want to experience it again and again. I believe the hunger here is as strong as in any other team.
What about your teammate? How is it working with Nico?
We get on very well and he’s a very professional and competitive driver. We have different driving styles and different ways of working, but we always talk together about how to improve the car and that’s important. We don’t keep secrets; it’s a very open way of working and we can learn a lot from each other. I’ve always had quick teammates in Formula One and it’s the best way to measure your performance because your teammate is the first person you have to beat.
How are you approaching the new season?
I’m very excited about 2015. It’s my second season with this team so that always makes things easier. I feel very relaxed about the new season in a good way. The regulations are not changing and I believe that will benefit us as a team. It means the development from last year can continue and we don’t have to start everything from zero again. I like these regulations and the V6 engines helped produce close and competitive racing. At the end of 2014 I was feeling very confident in the car and I want to carry this momentum into the new season. I want more podiums in 2015.
The sport returns to Mexico this year – how important is that for you personally?
It’s going to be a massive moment for me and I can’t help smiling when I think of racing in front of my home fans. Everywhere I go I see lots of excitement and everybody is already asking me where they should stay and where they can get the best food! It’s a very proud feeling to see the sport I love come back to Mexico and I’m sure it will be an amazing event for the fans.