“Although Spa was a difficult weekend for everyone in motor racing, my actual race on Sunday went very well, going from the back row of the grid to seventh. Maybe it is encouraging for this weekend in Monza, which like Spa is a power-dependent circuit. The Italian Grand Prix is the home race for our team, but it is also very important to me because I have lived for much of my life in Italy. By the time I was eleven years old, I was already living in Italy, going to school there and racing with an Italian karting team. I spent all my teenage years, up until I was 20 in Italy, so ten years full time here, which means Italy is a very big part of my life. I have made a lot of good friends in this country, I drive for an Italian team, I worked for an Italian team, Ferrari, last year, so it is a huge part of my life. I am grateful to many people and to Italy itself, as it was a big part of my career.
When I first moved here as a little boy, my first thought was that it was an adventure. We knew I had to make this step to achieve my racing ambitions, because, at that time in Russia, the level of motorsport was quite low and in Italy, you can race karts every week if you want. It was a big decision to leave Russia and while I moved to Italy full time, my parents took it in turns to come and look after me. I’ve never had great results in F1 in Monza in the past, but I won a lot there in the junior categories and I like the track, as all the corners are enjoyable. After last week in Spa, I think we should be able to fight more this year. The new version of the PU should also help! The chicanes and knowing how to drive them is a key part of getting a good lap, as are the high-speed corners like the Lesmos and the Parabolica because there are so few corners that it means every one of them is crucial. See you all in Italy!”
“Just a few days on from that terrible Saturday in Spa, I am still thinking a lot about Anthoine, but we are here to race and I will be trying my best as usual this weekend. I like this circuit, it’s one of the truly historic ones on the calendar. It is one of the fastest tracks of the year and in a modern Formula 1 car, it generates plenty of excitement and an adrenalin rush. It’s a legendary track, which often produces great races with some good fights. In the past, I’ve always been very competitive here and last year in Qualifying I made it into the top ten with Toro Rosso, which was a bit unexpected, although the race turned out to be a bit more complicated. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do this weekend. My race might be quite exciting, as I will have grid penalties because of taking on the latest specification Honda PU, so I will be trying to fight my way up the order from the back of the grid. That means Qualifying will be less important for me and, with my engineers, we can focus fully on the race itself, trying to make up places and using the power of the new engine.
If you look at a map of the track, it looks very simple with so few corners, but the difficulty comes from the fact we run with very small wings and therefore very low downforce to have as much top speed as possible. That means you approach the corners at around 350 to 360 km/h coming down the straights and have to brake very hard. There are two slow chicanes and then the most exhilarating parts are the Ascaris, the Lesmos and the Parabolica, because with so little downforce the cars slide sideways at the rear. It’s a real challenge which is fantastic for us drivers. There are lots of opportunities to slipstream other cars which is why it’s great for duels with other drivers. On top of that, it’s Toro Rosso’s home race, which is a plus and for me too, because I spend more and more time in Italy now that I’m moving to live here. I hope you will enjoy this weekend with us!”