The Mexican ace targets the top three as he returns to action in Barcelona.
Sergio, the start of the 2018 season is finally here. How are you feeling?
SP: “You always miss driving the car during the winter so it’s exciting when you come back to the track and feel the speed of F1 again. It’s when I realise how lucky I am to be an F1 driver and experience these amazing cars.”
Congratulations on becoming a father last December. You must be a very happy man…
SP: “It’s been a busy few months and exciting too. Becoming a father has been very emotional and the most special moment of my life. Chequito is such a happy baby and it’s so much fun to see him every day: to see him growing up, getting stronger and finding his personality. Carola is a wonderful mother and we are very proud parents.”
Do you feel in good shape for the new season?
SP: “I’ve trained in Mexico working really hard on my fitness. I’ve been doing everything in hot and humid conditions, and at altitude. It’s not been fun, but you have to put in the hard work now to start the year in the best shape possible. I’ve also recharged my batteries. When you don’t have to travel it’s easy to find a routine and some normality. I’ve enjoyed sleeping in my own bed for a few months.”
Tell us about the halo and your experience of it so far…
SP: “I’ve tried it a few times and didn’t have any major issues with the visibility. It’s just a different feeling when you are in the car, but something you adapt to quite quickly. It’s impressive when you realise just how strong it makes the car. Those safety benefits are important.”
What expectations do you set for this year? Can you and the team improve on 2017?
SP: “The goal is to be even stronger this year. To be more competitive and get closer to the top three teams. It’s not going to be easy because I expect the middle of the grid to be more competitive than ever. There will be a lot of teams capable of scoring points and we will have to fight hard to make sure we stay fourth in the championship.”
Do you feel podiums can be achieved in 2018?
SP: “I think I’m driving at my best right now. I’ve worked hard on improving myself in all areas and I feel very complete as an F1 driver. I certainly believe we can achieve podiums if the circumstances are right. We will need to take those opportunities if they come up.”
What are the main challenges for you and the team in 2018?
SP: “I would say understanding the tyres is always a huge task, especially in the early races. The rest of the car is similar to last year because of the stable rules so this continuity will help make things a bit easier. The biggest challenge will be winning the development battle among the teams. Last year we were bringing new parts to every race and we need to do the same this year to remain competitive.”