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GP Week : Issue 215
F1 >>> FEATUrE Will this boost your chances to renew your contract and stay with the team beyond 2015, or make you look for another new challenge? I definitely don't feel that I'm looking for a new challenge. As I said when I joined this team, I wanted to be a part of something that was building and growing and knew success like the team hadn't really had before. And so I feel like this is just the beginning. We still have another year to go, so there's no particular rush but this is my home. I feel very happy here. And obviously the team did a mega job, so I'm forever grateful for them. You said yesterday that you felt you were a lot wiser coming into this race, as opposed to 2008. How did the emotions compare – and why is this moment the greatest moment of your life or career? Well, 2007 was a very bad experience, obviously, losing the championship I fell to a low that I couldn't control and 2008 came back, fighting in the championship – Felipe won the race, won the championship for a second and then obviously what happened in the last corner, I got it back and for me I'd lost it, won it, lost it and, whilst it was a great experience, my emotions were shot. I don't know ... that year, I was just immature. I didn't have the knowledge that I have now. Didn't approach the race the same as I did today. Today I went in ... normally you go in butterflies in the stomach, a bit nervous; today I was going into the race thinking 'I feel extremely calm', which is really weird. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Obviously it was a really good thing. Last night sitting there thinking, ‘Jeez, tomorrow is the day.’ We could go into the race, something could happen to the car and that would be the championship done – naturally just thinking of all the negative things possible, y'know, and working really hard to bring the positives into it. I brought that today. I think really that knowledge and experience got me through the race today. Looking after the car. Battling to the point where I'd got the championship in a good position. Obviously it helped that Nico's car was not performing properly so, when he fell out of the points, I knew that I could fight with Felipe and ... yeah ... that was the most fulfilling experience I have to say. Coming into this weekend, there was a lot of talk about your personal relationship with Nico. Now that it's all over, how are you going to take that forward and the history that you have; what's your relationship going to be like going forward? I think it's been so intense between us all year long.There's been good moments and bad moments. Without a doubt we've had a friendship or a relationship that we built a long, long, long time ago, so that will always be there. He was a very, very fierce competitor this year; he did an exceptional job. He's going to be quick for a long time. I've got to pick up my qualifying pace for next year. It could have been either one of us today. Obviously we both wanted it. But I think with our relationship ... we'll continue to try to lift the team up, we'll work together as we have done all year long. Perhaps things naturally will ease up a little now. He was graceful enough to come up to me and see me after, which I really appreciated. It was really big of him to be able to do that. It's very, very tough – I know what it's like losing a championship so, for sure, we'll keep working at it. When you heard on the radio about Nico’s eRs problem, were you been worried that it could hit you as well, knowing what happened in Montreal when both cars were affected with something like that? Were you happy when the team told you to turn down the power for a while, knowing that it would give Felipe the opportunity to catch up? I was asking the team if I could turn down the power, because when the gap started to increase between me and Nico, I was thinking OK, I've got to back off, got to look after the tyres so ... look after the car – started avoiding kerbs, all those kind of things. A couple of moments down the straight I was rubbing the cockpit, I was saying 'come on baby, we can make it – stick with me.' I really did! You won't see it but I did. Several times. SoIdidthatafewtimesbutno,tobe honest, I had complete faith that things were going to go the right way today ... but of course, you never know. But the car was feeling good and ultimately at the end I was able to push – I wanted to win the race, I wanted to have that battle with Felipe. He obviously came in for those tyres and I thought Jeez, he's going to catch and get the win, but I managed to just keep him behind me. You've spoken a little bit about the part that Ross Brawn played in you entering this team. Today is Ross’ 60th birthday – what sort of message have you got for him? Yeah, to Ross, to Norbert Haug, to Niki, to Dieter, to all the board members, the belief that they've had in me, particularly when I got into Formula One ... I signed with McLaren and then Ron and Norbert gave the go-ahead for me to get the seat. Coming in to this team, as I said to you, Ross really sold it to me. He came with his laptop, sat and had tea with me which was just surreal to see because I've been watching TV for years, seeing the success that he had, thinking 'Oh my God, Ross, he wants me. Before he wanted Michael and now he wants me' – which is a very strange situation to be in and I'm forever grateful. I wish him a huge happy birthday. He invited me – obviously I'm here so can't go but I will definitely probably speak to him later today. but I'm really grateful for him wanting me to be in the team and the other members being so supportive to me being in this team because they wanted to win and it felt that I would be a perfect fit. I think we've proved that he was right ... 25 GPWEEK.com // 25 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: