Nico was back in the cockpit last week for the Jerez test, but what's he been up to since Brazil, what does he think to the modified FW30B and what are his plans ahead of the 2009 season? We caught up with him to find out.
So, Nico, Brazil seems a long time ago now. Did you have a nice break before testing started? What did you get up to? "I had two very nice trips to Miami and New York and had a great time in both places. It is good to have a proper break after a long season and to see and do things totally unrelated to racing. Being a tourist and indulging my new photography hobby is a great way to relax!"
It was a mixed year for you this year. A couple of podiums, some near podiums and then some pretty tough races in the mid-field. What did you take away from the season? "It was good to have a couple of highs during the season, but it was a difficult year for us as we were not quite where we wanted to be. Nevertheless, we learnt a lot which will help us to do better in 2009."
What were your high and low points? "My high points were definitely Melbourne and Singapore for the podiums and then qualifying for Monaco. My low points were probably the race in Monaco and places like Shanghai where we were off the pace."
If you’ve learnt one lesson this year, what would it be? "Keep fighting, even when times are a bit tough."
Since the end of the season, there’s been some speculation in the press concerning your position with the team. Can you clarify your thoughts? "There is nothing to clarify. I have a contract for next year and am fully motivated to push myself and the team further up the grid. Everyone in the factory deserves better results and we’ll work hard to achieve them."
You’ve already tested the interim chassis so you’ve experienced the new aero package and slick tires. What did you think? "It is not much different really. I suppose one thing that is different is what happens with tire degradation. The balance of the car has changed so now it’s more inclined to oversteer over certain runs than it used to on the groove tires."
Do you think the new aero regulations will improve overtaking opportunities? "They will definitely not make things worse! I really hope they will improve the situation."
And what do you think the return to slick tires will bring to the table next year? "I don’t think it’s a significant change except for the fact that none of the teams have any experience of them on today’s cars and we all need to learn as quickly as possible how to get the best out of them."
What objectives are you setting yourself for 2009? "I want to be finishing in the points on a regular basis."
There’s a long time between now and Melbourne. What are your plans? "I’m going to be relaxing with my family and training hard. I already have a full program in place for the winter and, as I will be spending much of my time in Austria, I’ll be doing the majority of it there."
And what training will you be focusing on before the start of the season? "I’ll be doing cardio work mainly to help my body cope with the extreme heat we have at certain races."
How important is it to you to spend time with your engineers at the factory over the winter? "It is important to spend some time at the factory, but not just with the engineers. It’s also good to see all the other members of the team. There are so many people working hard on the car back at base throughout the year but I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like to during the season. Winter is therefore a good time to have chat with them and catch up."
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