While the Sochi circuit is a brand new venue for Pascal Wehrlein, it is one that holds mixed memories his Manor team-mate Rio Haryanto…
Q: Pascal, three brand new circuits ticked off your list. What are you expecting from the Sochi Autodrom?
PW: “Well, we probably won’t have time to ski, although I hear that’s still possible. There’s plenty of snow on the mountains though. Sochi Autodrom is a great-looking track; I can’t wait to try it out on Friday. It’s essentially a street circuit and they’re always fun to drive. This one is quite fast and having the Olympic Park in the middle of it is something a bit different. For us, hopefully we have been able to continue improving our set-up so we can unlock a little more of the car’s potential. There’s still plenty of work to do there.”
Q: Tell us about that process?
PW: “Well, fundamentally we have a good package and every race we’re making progress, but it’s still very early days. There’s plenty we can do in every area to improve and find more performance. I’m learning a huge amount with each new race and we’re really starting to work well together as a team, so it’s a combination of factors that will help push us forward. It’s exciting to see how we can build from here.”
Q: Rio, we saw you race here in GP2 last season and come agonisingly close to a win!
RH: “Yes, it would have been my fourth win of the season. I took the lead on the final lap but in the end I had to settle for second after I was judged to have overtaken under the Safety Car. It would have put me in contention for the title too. Still, it was a good race for me. I’m looking forward to getting a feel for the track in an F1 car.”
Q: We hear you’ve been heading back to Indonesia after every race. What have you been getting up to?
RH: “Well, the Asian races have made that pretty easy to be honest. Once we get into Europe I’ll have to cut back on my trips home. In the early part of the season though, I’ve had a huge schedule of sponsor appearances and fan events, which I’ve been happy about. I waited a long time for this moment so the least I can do is reward the support of the fans back home, who’ve been incredible. The climate is also really good for training. The heat and humidity mean I’m pushing myself to the limit, more so than ever before. After Russia, I’ll be basing myself in Spain a little more, which is a bit like a second home for me and my trainer is Spanish.”