Twenty podiums in two years with Ferrari: not bad!
I’m already home from the trip to Abu Dhabi which ended on a high note. Yesterday’s second place is definitely a better result than we had expected going into the weekend, but what gave me the most satisfaction was the speed we had for practically the whole race. It was a good battle with Hamilton: at some points he was quicker and at others I was. Usually, at the start of a stint, he was able to pull out a bit of a gap, but then I’d close it in the final part, especially when we were both on the Softs. In the second stint the traffic also added to this sort of elastic movement between us, but it’s hard to say which of us it affected most. Having analysed the data in last night’s debrief, it was also clearly the case that the little problem at the second pit stop did not impact on the final result: I would not have been able to get back out on track ahead of Hamilton, who was immediately quick on the Medium tyres. In fact the ability to get the most out of the tyres right from the very first lap, is one of the areas we need to work on for next year.
Bringing home a trophy from Abu Dhabi was very pleasing for me, but I’ve realised I made a statistical error, when I said that in my collection I have at least one trophy from each of the Grand Prix venues since I’ve raced in Formula 1: I’m missing one from Austria where I raced only twice, in 2001 and 2003, failing to finish on both occasions. The first time was in a Minardi, when the gearbox let me down, the second was when I was with Renault and the engine failed. Well, I’m not sure if the Austrian Grand Prix will ever return to the calendar, but if it did happen, then that would be just an extra reason to try and make it to the podium!
Still on the subject of statistics, yesterday’s podium was the twentieth of my “red” career, which means that I have managed to finish in the top three in over half the races I have driven for Ferrari. This shows that even in a year like this, which has not been so fantastic, in terms of our car’s performance, the average level is still very high. It’s not by chance that over the last eighteen years, the Scuderia has managed to win at least one Grand Prix per season. No other team can say the same and factors like this also influenced my decision to extend my contract with Ferrari for such a long time. I know many of you will think it would have been better if I could have come second in Abu Dhabi a year ago. I know it too, but there’s no point in thinking about what might have been, also because I am sure that the time will come sooner or later when we can obtain the satisfaction that has eluded us so far. I am sure that from now until 2016 there will be many more bottles of champagne for me to hand to the mechanics as I come down the steps from the podium!