Fresh from the top step in Abu Dhabi, Kimi is on a roll as he prepares to tackle a new challenge here in Austin. Here, the Iceman talks us through his first taste of the Circuit of the Americas.
Q: Talk us through your impressions of the circuit ?
KR: It’s a nice circuit to drive ; the sectors are quite different so there’s a good challenge there. Of course, like with any new track there was no grip at the start of the day which doesn’t give you a very good feeling, but as the grip improves it will be more fun to drive for sure. This morning was very slippery, this afternoon less so but you still can’t really push and it’s a bit tricky to find the limit. There’s a lot of improvement to come – from the track surface and from the setup of the car – so qualifying will be pretty interesting. It’s the same for everyone, and we’ve never been so strong on a Friday as we are over the rest of the weekend, so let’s see if we can improve for tomorrow.
Q: Turns three to seven look particularly challenging…
KR: If there was the same grip level as a normal circuit then they wouldn’t be so unusual. There are very similar corners at Silverstone with Maggots and Becketts but here it’s very slippery and you’re sliding a lot. Normally you can sense the grip a little bit more, but here it’s hard to get the feeling straight away. Yes they are challenging corners, but the lack of grip on the circuit makes it more challenging than normal.
Q: Do you think the only overtaking opportunity will be in the DRS zone ?
KR: I think so. There may possibly be a chance in the first corner, but it really depends on what happens in the race.
Q: How difficult is it to set up the car when the track is so fresh ?
KR: We know our car so it’s not so bad. Yes, we can keep changing things but I would say that 95% of the time we end up with more or less the same setup so it’s more the circuit than the car which needs to evolve, and it will for sure. We will learn it as we go along so we just have to be patient and wait for it to come to us ; I’m sure if the grip improves and our car continues working as it should then it will be ok.
Q: Having driven turn one, how does it feel and what do you think will happen at the start of the race ?
KR: It’s ok really ; we have something similar in India and at most tracks we have corners as tricky as this. We know that the start will be very slippery off the line, but if everyone is smart then we will be fine.