The start of last year was complicated for you, but your season ended in great style. Do you feel stronger because of it?
PG: “2019 was an interesting year as a lot of things happened, both on a professional and personal level. I feel like I grew and learned a lot, so to get that second place in Brazil, Toro Rosso’s second best result ever over 14 years in F1, really rounded the season off in the best possible way. I was very happy with the way we worked and the way things went and now, I’m more than excited about this new season, which I’d like to start in the same way in which we finished 2019.”
Do you believe the team can keep that momentum going forward?
PG: “Definitely, as the team is pretty much the same as before and everyone is very motivated and focussed with a really good dynamic throughout the company and you can feel it in the factory. Everyone is very excited about the 2020 car and wants to do even better than in 2019.”
It seems as though last year the team was really able to keep developing the car throughout the season. Was that an important factor?
PG: “It’s a bit hard for me to assess the full evolution, as I joined the team mid-season, but overall it’s true that, between Daniil and I, we regularly picked up points in the second half of the season. I believe the way the team went about developing the car improved a lot, even from 2018 to ’19. The working methods and the way we approached the race weekend was clearly a step forward and it was a real pleasure to work with them. We are all on the right path for 2020 but we need to wait and see how pre-season testing goes. Having said that, last year’s performance owed a lot to how we worked and so I believe we can continue in this dynamic way.”
From your side, have you also evolved a lot? Have you still got a lot to learn?
PG: “There is always something to learn. This will only be my third season in Formula 1. I feel better prepared than last year, as I have a bit more experience. Towards the end of the year, together with the people in the team, we really discovered how to understand what we needed from each other and how to get the most out of our package. We must continue to push and it will be important to perform consistently, scoring points throughout the season. We have to seize every opportunity, just as we did last year.”
Of the four drivers in the Red Bull family, you are the one with the longest history with Honda. How did the relationship evolve last year and what do you expect from them this season?
PG: “It’s really impressive what Honda did last year, starting with their first win since they returned to Formula 1 in 2015. It proves that all their hard work over the past years has been rewarded. For me, getting that podium with them, as a midfield team, shows that Honda has really helped us to grab these opportunities. They have continued to work very hard, to bring us even more power, so it’s very promising. They are great to work with and we share the same goals with everyone giving their maximum effort.”
We are about to tackle the longest season in the history of F1. How do you feel about that?
PG: “I love racing and it’s what makes me happy, so this looks like being a really exciting year. It’s true that it’s going to be a very busy season, but I see that as an additional opportunity to get a good result. I just want it to start now. I’m impatient!”
Any thoughts on the new name for the team?
PG: “One of the many reasons why I decided to move to Milan is that I like fashion a lot, so I’m more than happy for the team to partner with AlphaTauri. I can’t wait to see and wear the new team kit, which I’m sure will be a big step in quality, fit and comfort. I know the brand and their approach to what they do so I’m really excited. For the team, a new story is just beginning and it’s a pleasure to be involved right from the start. The team stays the same, so it will be important to give AlphaTauri a good start in life. It’s exciting to see what lies ahead of us.”