How excited are you to be racing for Scuderia AlphaTauri in 2020?
“I’m very excited to go racing again. This is going to be my sixth year in Formula 1, which is a fantastic feeling. Even though technically speaking, the core of the team stays the same, the name has changed with AlphaTauri stepping in. But while the team and the car will have a different look, technically, the AT01 is pretty much an evolution of last year’s STR14, which already worked well. Having that as a starting point, our aim is to improve it and move forward as much as possible.”
What’s the first item of AlphaTauri clothing on your wish list?
“I’ve actually already been wearing AlphaTauri clothes since last year, I especially like the sweaters as they’re comfortable and nice to travel with, I use them on a lot of my flights. It’s very exciting to partner with a clothing brand I personally like a lot. I like the style and the quality and once you wear it you understand why it “fits body and mind” …and I really mean it!”
Last year was incredibly successful for you. For this season, what are your personal goals you’d like to achieve?
“I wouldn’t say there is anything in particular. You can always improve yourself, so I’ll keep working on that and my personal improvement as a driver, try to get as many good finishes for the team in order to help secure a good position in the championship. 2019 was a good year for me, with ten top-10 finishes and a podium finish in Hockenheim, so it’s definitely a year to remember, but there’s obviously room for improvement. I wouldn’t say I’ve set myself any specific targets for this year, I want to keep doing what I was doing, but better.”
Do you think that a top-five finish will be achievable for the team overall?
“You always want to improve on the previous season. Considering how tight the midfield battle was and not knowing if and how we have all progressed it’s impossible to predict, but I expect a big show on track and we want to be leading the midfield pack. We should just try to perform well at every race and that will bring us a strong season like it did last year.”
The season is incredibly busy – 22 races, 7 weekends back to back when you have a race. There’s going to be lots of drama.
“I think it should be a really exciting season for the fans and for us drivers. There were many dramatic races last year. I think now with the field being so competitive and so tight at the front and in the midfield, we’re going to have some races where there’s going to be a lot happening. I hope that trend is going to stay because there may be some opportunities for us to grab some bigger points. Let’s see how we handle 22 races, in what’s going to be the longest season in F1 history.”
There are two new races – one in Vietnam, one in Holland. What are you expecting from those tracks?
“I’m looking forward to the two new venues in Holland and Vietnam. I’ve raced at Zandvoort in my junior days when I was competing in Formula Renault 2.0, so it will be good to go back there. Vietnam looks like a very interesting configuration. I would expect something similar to Baku. At every street circuit there can be a lot happening, so it should be fun.”
You are 25 years old now. Do you feel like you’re coming into the prime of your career now?
“I think I’m working hard to come into my prime. Every year I always find something new that I can work on and improve, it’s a constant evolution of myself. I feel like last year was a good year for me in terms of personal discoveries, understanding what works for me and what doesn’t. I think in terms of my performance, I feel like I’m always quite happy with what I manage to squeeze out of the car, but I think it’s very hard to identify your prime. I’ll keep working on my personal improvement as a driver and try to get as many good finishes as I can.”
Are you expecting a super close battle with your teammate Pierre this year?
“I think so, that’s how it usually goes between teammates. Last year, I had two during the year and both of them are very competitive, very fast guys. Pierre is a very competitive and fast driver, so of course I expect it to be close.”