I’m very pleased with how week-end in Monza went on, both on and off the track. I celebrated my Birthday on Saturday – it was really good that my friends came to Italy. I was particularly happy to see Max and Nikolay, two brothers whom I’d already mentioned last week. They rode more than 1000 kilometers across Europe on bikes and arrived just in time on Friday. I also was very happy to get congrats from the team. When a cake was brought in and all guys applauded, I felt special warmth on my soul.
But the most important is that Italian race for me became, I think, the very best so far this season. It was cold last week in Spa, but much better conditions for us in Monza. When temperature is higher, our car performs better, and we also found some good setup. I was consistent from lights to flag and this time had absolutely no regrets after finishing behind Heikki. If you’d look through lap times, it is clear, that I was one or two tenths quicker than my teammate almost every lap.
On Friday we worked a lot with our updates, while in qualifying tyres became our main issue. They were really good in the race, but on Saturday it was very hard to get them into temperature. We had to do a number of fast laps to reach optimal tyre performance. I also was not happy with my set at final run, it was some vibrations. All that factors prevented me from being a bit faster.
I didn’t feel nervous at the start, but – after a crash we had last year – wished to drive through first corner without any incidents. It is a well known fact that a race continues after Turn 1 as well. The surface on the grid was rather dusty somehow, so all drivers around me had a wheelspin and didn’t do a great start. I couldn’t gain positions as well, but also didn’t lose. On braking before first corner Timo Glock hit my car from behind – fortunately, without serious consequences.
We planned to run a race with one pit-stop initially, but when I visited pits after first stint, it became clear, that tyres degraded a bit too fast, so we had to do one more stop.
Of course, it is a pity I found Fernando Alonso just in front of us – Heikki and me – on final laps. I tried to push on Heikki, but he could use DRS and it was very hard task for me to overtake him. It looked like Fernando, who had already lost his second place to Sergio Perez, lifted off a bit. Maybe the team asked him to change engine mapping, or tyres was badly used. Anyway, he was so concentrated on keeping his third position till the finish, that was hardly faster than us!
But I have to say once again – I really enjoyed week-end in Monza. Now we have some time to relax and restore – and then will fly to Singapore, where everyone works at night and sleeps at day. I think it is not worth to do any predictions. Let’s wait for Free Practices start and we will get much better picture.