Well done in China – at which point did you expect to win the race?
“Thank you. I thought I could win after the last pitstop, when I knew that Kimi [Raikkonen] and Lewis [Hamilton] had pitted early and were on old tyres. At that point I knew that whatever happened – a Safety Car, or whatever – I had fresher tyres, so everything was in our hands.”
Do you have any superstitions before a race weekend/during a race weekend, like wearing different colour socks or an important chain?
“No, there’s nothing like that. But throughout my career I have always put on my left shoe first and my left glove first. But these are not superstitions; they are things that happen automatically and I don’t think they bring me luck.”
Do you ever find yourself thinking about anything other than the racing when you're behind the wheel?
“Yes, definitely. There have been many times when I’ve thought about other things, especially during testing. It’s not that driving is boring; it’s more a case of it happening automatically and that gives me plenty of time to think about different things. Whether or not I’ve put the air conditioning on at home because I’ll arrive home at night and maybe the house is hot!”
There’s a film coming out this year which tells the story of Nika Lauda and highlights the dangers of motorsport in the 1970s. Have you noticed the sport become safer in your time as an F1 driver?
“Yes, I think that’s the case. It’s not possible to compare F1 today with how it was in the 1970s or ’80s, or even ’90s. From 2001 to ’13, which is my career, I’ve seen a big improvement as well. The cars themselves have got safer, as have the regulations. The introduction of the HANS device in 2004 was very important; there are now better tools to inform us of Safety Cars and yellow flags, and many other things.”
You lose a lot of body fluid when driving in hot countries such as Malaysia and Bahrain; do you notice the sweat whilst racing?
“Yes, definitely. You notice your body getting more tired because you feel down-on-power when it hasn’t got enough fluid in it. This doesn’t only happen during the races; it’s Friday practice sessions and Saturday too. Your body works hard to try and keep you at the right temperature and fluid loss is something that you need to notice. During my career we’ve learnt a lot more about how to prepare the body for these types of races.”
What is your favourite circuit to race and why?
“The favourite one is Malaysia because I like the layout. It’s a very challenging circuit, but that’s only the layout. If you want to know which is the best race, it’s Monaco. It’s unique. It has a bit of everything: a challenging track, a nice setting and glamour. Winning the Monaco Grand Prix isn’t like winning the championship, but you certainly know you’ve done your job.”
Do you think we will ever see a successful female F1 driver?
“It’ll be very difficult, not because of any limitations they have but because the sport is very focused on men. It’s a man’s sport. There are a few women in the sport and it would be nice to see them fighting in F1, but for whatever reason the mentalities of the sponsors and the teams are geared towards men. Sooner or later a female driver will come.”
Who are your driver friends in F1?
“I have respect and a good relationship with everyone. I’m close to being friends with all of my team-mates because you spend a lot of time with them during the year. Aside from my team-mates, I have good relationships with drivers that are from my generation. We raced in the lower formulas together and we’re now racing in F1. People like Jenson [Button] and Mark [Webber].”
What's the one song that would be on your ultimate driving track?
“I keep changing my songs, depending on my mood. I don’t have a particular song.”
Do you ever see yourself trying to race in another series? Indy, NASCAR, ALM, ETC?
“Not now. I’m only focused on F1 and I’ve never had any desire to race in another category. At the same time, I don’t close the door to anything. I’m super-happy at the moment because I race for Ferrari and I cannot ask for any more than that. I know that one day a time to retire will arrive, when F1 is too demanding for my age or for my motivation and it will be better to stop. When that day comes, maybe there are other categories that I can race in, which are still fun but not so demanding or stressful. That’s a possibility, but, as I say, I’m not thinking about that at the moment.”