AHEAD OF THE CANADIAN GRAND PRIX
Daniel, winning in Montreal didn’t really change your opinion of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, did it?
Not really. Possibly winning has made me love it a little bit more but really I’ve loved it since my first lap, back when I was driving for Toro Rosso. I remember coming back into the pits and saying “what a circuit,” I was amazed at how good it was – and I’d only done an install.
Gotta give us a bit more than that Dan…
It’s just a ridiculous amount of fun. You can jump across the kerbs and really get the car bouncing around. It’s like getting back to go-kart days, you really feel like you own it – and I love that. You can get aggressive with it, and aim to just brush the wall. There’s a lot of risk but that brings a lot of adrenaline with it. It’d be wonderful if you were doing it in isolation but with 100,000 screaming fans urging you on, it’s just mega.
How do you judge the risk versus reward between the walls?
It’s a clear choice: some guys will play it safe and sacrifice half a tenth to get through there cleanly; others who will take a risk and go flat out trying to find a little bit. The nearer you are, the faster you’ll go. Give the wall a kiss and you feel pretty good: Kiss it too hard and that’s it!
So, good then?
How about the city?
Awesome. Great places to eat and drink – plus the fact Crescent Street is closed off for a big party is very, very cool. The whole city gets involved in the race and you get the impression that the grand prix is really embraced.
Presumably last year there was a bit of a party on Sunday night?
There was – but I was very restrained and in bed by 1.30am. There’s a point where the adrenaline wears off and suddenly you’re absolutely exhausted. I remember falling into bed, thinking “wow, crazy day,” and out went the lights. Fortunately the crew are made of sterner stuff and kept the party going. They were not a pretty sight at breakfast the following day…
We’ve just had a tight and twisting street circuit in Monaco and we’re now heading to a quite different temporary track in Montreal. Is a lap of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as intense?
Yes, it’s quite intense but in a very different way. The straights are long but you have these big braking zones. It has a little bit of the feeling of street circuit because of the walls but it is more of a traditional, classic track. It has a unique feeling though and it’s a great place for racing. It’s great for drivers and the races are usually very exciting, so I’m looking forward to it.
What about the atmosphere in Montreal? It’s a city that really embraces F1.
Yeah, the atmosphere is always really good. It’s a great crowd and they seem to really know a lot about F1, which is great.
Is it a town you enjoy hanging out in?
From what I’ve seen it’s a good city, but to be honest I haven’t actually been out and about there very much. However, my trainer likes it very much, because of the hockey. He’s a former hockey player so he loves it there. We’ve visited the stadium and I’ve watched a few games on the TV because it’s often play-off season [the Stanley Cup] when we’re there, so he’s always watching it.
You’ve got a good hockey team, Salavat Yulaev Ufa, in your home city in Russia, don’t you?
Yeah, they’re good, but they’re facing difficult times now. But they’re my home team so I have to support them. I was never a really big fan of hockey but since meeting my trainer I’ve followed it a bit more and I do enjoy it, especially when Russia beats Finland!