30.06.2012: BRITISH Grand Prix Silverstone 2012
Running strongly in second place, with very good potential to go one place
BRITISH Grand Prix Silverstone 2012
Running strongly in second place, with very good potential to go one place better, was a real coming of age for Romain in the European Grand Prix.
Cruel fate intervened however, as an alternator absolved itself of its duties at two-thirds race distance. Here, Romain reminisces over what could have been, and looks ahead to what could be at Silverstone
What’s the mindset heading to Silverstone?
I think we head to Silverstone with more confidence. We understand a few more things with the car. It was good to have a really hot weekend all the way through at Valencia as we were able to work on the car and really analyse things. Silverstone is very high speed; I’m confident we’ll have strong pace and that should lead to a good race.
What are your feelings about the European Grand Prix?
I was very close to what could have been my first win, and at the location of my Formula 1 debut too! It would have made a nice story, but reality doesn’t always follow the script. It was a fantastic race until I had the problem. I was fighting with world champions in Lewis [Hamilton], Sebastian [Vettel] and Fernando [Alonso], and I was right with them on pace.
It was unbelievable for me and I’m pleased with the way the team is working. We made a real step forwards in Valencia, understanding some performance considerations which will help us for the rest of the season. I can’t wait to put them into practice at Silverstone. Ultimately, we didn’t finish, but through no fault of our own.
I was as sad as the team. The win was there for the taking, but it just got away. I have to be patient. I didn’t achieve my first win in Valencia, but I am convinced that it will come. It’s great to fight with World Champions, proper big teams. We are now a big team.
What lessons did you learn personally at Valencia?
It was my first safety car period in Formula 1, so that was good experience for the future and I’m sure we will be able to use this knowledge next time. My race start was good and I could make use of the momentum I had off the line. A lot of people say I’m too aggressive sometimes; I don’t think I have been this year.
Sometimes I have made a mistake, and you can point to a lack of experience, but in Valencia I showed that I am able to be aggressive when I need to be, and also to leave some space when I need to do so. When Fernando overtook me around the outside of turn two I left him space.
How did the alternator problem manifest itself?
There was a warning on the steering wheel and I kept asking Ayao [Komatsu] “What is it? What is it? Can I do anything?” and he told me not to worry about the alarm. Next I lost some information on the dashboard, and it wasn’t easy to drive, then I started to feel that there was a problem with the car and something was going wrong.
This was about a lap and a half before we stopped, then suddenly everything cut; I couldn’t even use the radio! This meant all contact with the engineers was gone. I was stuck on the track and couldn’t cross it, so I had to wait for 20 laps under the sun before I could get back.
How was it at the side of the track being an impromptu spectator?
It was almost as frustrating as the car cutting out! I couldn’t discuss with the engineers what had gone wrong and I had to watch the rest of the race stranded out on track; at least my chair was comfortable! You just want to return to the pits, talk to the crew and help with the rest of the race.
It will be your first time in a Formula 1 car on the new Silverstone circuit layout…
I won on it in the GP2 Series last year, so I’m not too bad on the track! It’s the same for everybody. It’s challenging, but it has a good feel. It’s one of the quickest tracks of the year. There are corners which are legendary like the Magotts, Becketts, Chapel complex. What a feeling...
It’s a special Grand Prix for our team as the factory is very close to the track. It will be nice to see them. They are all doing an amazing job, always working so hard. I will be visiting them after the race and hopefully we can go there with some good silverware to show them.
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