29 JULY 2016
GERMAN GP – FRIDAY PRACTICE
First Practice Session: 1:16.927, Position: 5, Laps: 29
Second Practice Session: 1:16.456, Position: 4, Laps: 40
“A good start to the day and weekend in general. The first session I was learning the lap with the car, we had a bit of front locking that we will hopefully get rid of tomorrow. The second session was good, definite progress from the first as I continued to learn the track and get used to the car here. Everyone knows this track is quite hard on the tyres so no real surprises there. We are not too far off Mercedes, we are matching Ferrari and the long runs were all pretty positive. We will have to wait and see how some of the rules work, from what I have heard in general it shouldn’t be too bad. I think the radio rules make it nicer for the fans so they can hear what is going on and not just listen to commentary. I think the fastest way around the track is within the track limits so we will try and keep to that. I don’t mind what the other drivers have said about last weekend, I’m happy and confident with my driving and defending, they can talk to me if they want but I don’t feel any pressure from them.”
First Practice Session: 1:17.089, Position: 6, Laps: 30
Second Practice Session: 1:16.490, Position: 5, Laps: 38
“I enjoy the track around here actually. It’s cool and it’s got pretty good flow. The last sector is fun, but it’s tricky with the tyres. You’ve got some tight corners which seem to be harder on the rear tyres but then the last sector has got a lot of longer corners where you can hurt the front, so trying to balance the car isn’t always easy. But I felt we got on top of it more in FP2 so I’m pretty happy where we are now. We looked quite close to the Mercs on high fuel so that was promising. This afternoon’s race stint looked really good so if we can replicate what we did then on Sunday I think we can have a strong chance in the race. I’m obviously trying to keep up with all the rule changes but I’ve never been too fussed really. I think if it’s the same rules for everyone then let’s go and race and deal with what we’ve got.”
Our Man of the Century
This weekend at the German Grand Prix, Daniel will mark two major milestones – his 100th career grand prix start and his 50th start for Red Bull Racing. He reflects on his time on the grid.
Daniel, it’s you’re 100th race, 50th with the team – how quickly has that gone?
Really quick, yeah! It’s gone quick but then again I look back at the start and obviously a lot has happened since then. It’s been cool. Obviously it’s nice to have not only gone through 100 grands prix but to have stayed in the sport and had relatively good success in the time I’ve been here. It’s been fun, definitely. Two hundred sounds like a lot, but at the same time, now that I’ve done 100 I think I’ll be sticking around for a little bit.
Cast you mind back to that first race in the HRT. What were you like as a person back then and how have you changed since?
I look at me and I was definitely less attractive! You know, you mature a lot and you understand the sport a lot and I was, at the time, quite overwhelmed still by Formula One. I had put it on a bit of a pedestal as a kid. I remember the Drivers’ Parade in Silverstone, I was like “wow, this is really happening!” So it was an experience, sure, but you learn quickly. That’s something this sport does do to you: it turns you from boy to man pretty quick. I think I’m quite fortunate that I do remember that first race quite vividly. It went very quick but it wasn’t all just a blur. I do have some pretty strong images in my mind.
How does it compare going from a car where you were slightly making up the numbers but there to learn, to now being at the front challenging for race wins and who knows, maybe titles?
It makes a world of difference. At the time when I was HRT it was obviously great to just be in the sport but you can only run at the back for so long before you want more. Now to actually fight for podiums, wins and points on a week-to-week basis nearly is so much better. Obviously you get a lot more satisfaction from it but I think your motivation also stays a lot higher. It’s pretty cool. Obviously there are not many teams here that can do that and it’s nice to be involved with one of them.
The upward curve was pretty quick, heading straight to Toro Rosso and then quickly to Red Bull Racing. Has that upward curve continued since you joined the team or is it a different challenge now?
It always continues in a similar trend. I always feel like I’m learning as a driver and I guess getting better or understanding more. But yeah, I think 2014 was the biggest jump, it was like ‘wow!’ But it didn’t feel foreign. To a lot of people on the outside it probably did look foreign, they’re like ‘wow, this kid has come in and he’s doing what he’s doing against Seb’, but for me it felt quite a natural step.
And the role of Toro Rosso during that period? How do you look back on that?
They’re definitely stronger now than when I was with them. For us to get a point was big news! It was like with HRT: for the first few races I was just happy being in a more competitive team but after a while you want more. A lot of the time we were like 14th or 15th place. It wasn’t always easy to… obviously you had your team-mate to go against but when you were running around in 15th place… It’s a lot better when you’re fighting for points. I learned a lot. Jean-Eric was quite good the first year, particularly with tyre management and in the races he was quite strong, so I learned a lot from that as well.
Five standout moments from those 100 grands prix?
I would say first points in Australia [2012, with Toro Rosso). Probably the first podium in Australia  – the one that I didn’t keep but that was definitely a standout. The Bahrain qualifying with Toro Rosso [2012, Daniel qualified in P6]. The Canada win and the Hungary win [both 2014]. The Monaco pole .
Who have been the key people for you on this journey since 2011?
Obviously there are key people within Red Bull, obviously getting the opportunity through Helmut and Christian and the Junior Programme was a big one. I think the engineers – Simon [Rennie] has for me been really good. I got on well with him from day one and I think we’ve gelled very well together. Stu Smith [Daniel’s trainer] and this year I’ve got Sam [Village]. Stu’s been around a long time. He definitely helped me transition from boy to man and I really believe we’ve done things other driver/trainer partnerships aren’t doing and it’s not just spending more hours in the gym, it’s being more efficient with what we do and going into a bit more detail. He’s helped a lot. I feel bad, because there are so many people. You know, especially in my time at Red Bull I’ve really enjoyed working with the mechanics. The car crew I’ve had has been really solid. In between FP3 and Qualifying last year in Monza they turned the car around and that was huge. They’d done some pretty amazing things.
How would like to celebrate your 100th and your 50th with the team, and also what’s the next target?
I’d love to celebrate with a win – on Mercedes’ home soil! That would be great but… I had a good race here in 2014. I think we can do well in Germany; some champagne would be nice. By the time I come round to next 100 grands prix, hopefully more than one world title.