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Exclusive Felipe Nasr Q&A: I have to take advantage of all the bad starts

22 Aug 2015

A mystery vibration contributed to Felipe Nasr falling at the first hurdle in qualifying, but the Brazilian has not given up hope of scoring points in Spa. In an exclusive interview, Nasr discusses Sauber's development plans, his expectations for the second half of his rookie campaign, and how he intends to profit from the new start procedures introduced this weekend…

Q: Felipe, the season started really promisingly but then things came somewhat to a sudden halt after the first three races. Why?

Felipe Nasr: I think in the end it is a combination of things. Firstly we haven’t brought anything major to the car since Australia – or the first couple of races – because we are limited on how much we can invest in the development of our car, and all I have seen is that most of the teams brought updates from race to race and of course got quicker than us. But I expected this situation – that we would suffer in the middle period of the season. From the moment I joined the team I knew what to expect: that we will have chances early on in the year, and we took them. We started on the right foot. This phase we are in now was expected and all we could do was to make the best out of it. We do have something to look forward to. Upgrades are on the agenda, soon.

Q: How soon?

FN: We plan to bring a full aero package to Singapore. Yes, if you look at the whole season that might look pretty late for a major revamp – but it is better to have something solid than permanent lashed-up situations.

Q: Is what the team are aiming to bring to Singapore already meant as a first cornerstone for the 2016 car?

FN: Yes, it is the beginning of the 2016 development. I have seen the concept of the 2016 car and it looks much more promising than this year’s one, and Singapore is the first step. Singapore will tell us if it’s the right approach or not. That will be an important race for us - being able to analyse the data after the race. I have full confidence in the team, so no thoughts that it might be a massive failure. And if there are things that need to be changed, we have enough time for that over the winter. In fact, we delayed our further development after we brought the new front wing to China and it didn’t live up to our expectations. It didn’t bring any advantage so we halted a bit of our development just because of that front wing issue in China. So we will have something more precise in Singapore that will help us to step ahead.

Q: How would you judge your first half of 2015? Where have you failed – and where has the team let you down?

FN: All I can say is that things overall were pretty positive – especially the first three races – and after that we tried to maximise our opportunities. Of course there were races where we could have done a better job, but that’s water under the bridge. I still learn at every race, I am taking all that in and that is positive for my growth. I think that here and in Monza we should have a good chance to do well – the type of track might work in our favour, to the favour of our car. And don’t forget: we are still only halfway through the season, so anything can happen. There are some tracks I still don’t know…

Q: Like where?

FN: Japan, and of course Mexico. But that goes for everybody. Austin I have only driven on a Friday morning so there is still more to learn. Overall I am pretty satisfied with the team - and with me! (laughs)

Q: How is it to be a rookie in these times? Rookies are often rather short-lived these days, barely lasting a couple of years in the sport. Before it seemed that people subscribed to the philosophy of 'give them time', now the expectations are there right away. Is that highly stressful?

FN: Yes, they are there. But I have to say when I had chances I took them. In my first ever F1 race I showed what I came here for. I think people recognised that. Now it is all about keeping the learning curve up.

Q: Sauber is hoping to also benefit from the Ferrari development surge. When will that arrive?

FN: We do have an update on the engine this weekend. It unfortunately didn’t show right away but it did help.

Q: But why haven’t we seen anything really of it so far this weekend?

FN: I had a strange qualifying. My fist set of tyres were really good and when I went for the second one I had a strange feeling. I couldn’t extract the full potential of the tyres – the car was vibrating a lot and we still have not found the reason for it. I hope we will do so for the race tomorrow. The team is on it now. If they find out that it is something critical we will have to call the FIA to ask if we can do something about it. Without that Q2 would have been possible I am pretty sure. I was really disappointed to be left out so early in qualifying.

Q: We will see a new starting format from tomorrow. What’s your opinion and how intense has your practice been in the last two days?

FN: We did practice in Budapest and on Friday. I am quite confident. It will be an experiment for all of us so let's see. Somehow I am pretty confident we can move up some places.

Q: What’s going to be the trick to a good start? Obviously the further back on the grid you start the bigger the chances of getting involved in unwanted contact…

FN: Well, of course I have to get clean out of that first corner and take advantage of all the bad starters.

Q: You said that Spa is one of your favorite tracks. Can you talk us through your emotions on a Spa lap? Where is the adrenalin level the highest and where can you exhale?

FN: It is a unique track because of the corner combination and the high speed that you take all along the track. It is super flowing. At some parts you really feel your stomach moving up. Of course Eau Rouge is the most emotional and the middle sector gives you the biggest adrenalin rush, believe it or not! There you have to be very precise and at the same time carrying a lot of speed.

Q: On a track you love, you want to shine. How much will you be shining after the checkered flag tomorrow?

FN: As I said I was disappointed about qualifying, so I want to impress in the race. Of course I am aiming for points – always. That’s all I can say.