Did you have 'des bonnes vacances'?
Romain Grosjean: Yes, very nice. I spent time with my wife and baby son (Sacha), who celebrated his first birthday just after the Hungarian Grand Prix. We had a great time with our families and holidayed. It is nice to switch off even just for a short time. I come back to the paddock refreshed and with energy restored for the next phase of the season.
What is your mind-set as we go into the second part of the season?
RG: Despite the difficulties so far, I feel positive for the rest of the season to come. We have seen that there have been many issues since the start of the year and even before, but as with everything in life you have to look forward and this is exactly what I am doing. This is now my third full season in F1 and although the disappointments always hurt, I am also mature enough to know that when things get tough you are able to learn more and to try and work toward being successful again. I really hope we can do that together as a team for the remainder of the year. That is the aim.
Spa is a great place to start afresh for the second part of the 2014 season isn't it?
RG: Yes it is. Spa as we all know is one of the best tracks we go to, if not the best of them all. As a driver it is like a dream circuit with elevation change, quick corners, medium speed technical corners and some good straights for overtaking. It's a circuit with a soul. I always enjoy racing here, as do most of the drivers. What I find memorable about Spa is not only the track but also the beautiful surroundings in the Ardennes forest. From the cockpit you get a very real sense of being at a living, breathing track at Spa and the fans are really close to the action. You can almost smell the frites!
There is no hiding from the fact 2014 has been tough so far. Going forward what can be achieved in the remaining races?
RG: Well, at the end of the day, all we as drivers can do is to do our best every time we get in the car. It has been a very hard year so far but you have to keep looking ahead and hoping that all of the bad luck, issues and tough times get paid back through our determination to make things better. Ever since I have been at Enstone I have seen this determination to succeed and it will help us. When you match these qualities to the skill of the technical team then we should get some rewards in the remaining races. We need to build some momentum and I will be going all out to make sure we get more points and exploit the best of the E22 for the rest of the season.
Is the target to add more points at Spa?
RG: As always, yes. Since Monaco we have had a succession of really hard races where for many reasons we have not been in the position to claim any points. For Spa I am hoping that there will be some improvements so we can show the potential which has been seen on a few occasions, like at Barcelona. We have to reverse the problems that have held us back and I believe that if we get that then we can post more points on the board.
What have you been doing in the summer break?
Pastor Maldonado: Relaxing as much as possible by spending time with my family and friends. The F1 season is intense with travelling, and time seems to go so fast. It is a much needed break but at the same time my brain is always thinking about the team and the car, so part of me is always focusing on the second half of the season, starting at Spa.
It is important to have this break and to refresh ourselves as a team. I think that being away from the track for a short time is healthy and actually helps get some perspective of where we are and hope things can improve for us going forwards.
Is there a sense of re-focusing now on a strong end to 2014 after a tough first half?
PM: Yes there is. It has been a very hard season and one in which there have been lots of issues. But now that is behind us and we have to believe that we can get some points on the board and complete the season strongly. That way it will give some good momentum to start afresh in 2015 with a whole new exciting package.
What are you targeting now for the rest of the season?
PM: It would be difficult to give a clear aim other than improvement and fighting for points every race. We have seen flashes of big promise from the E22. If everything is running right and the team continues to push then we can get more points for sure. As a team we will stay together with a clear mission to achieve the maximum. That way we will come back stronger and become a force in 2015. But first we are hungrier than ever to get back in to the mix for points again in 2014.
Spa is a legendary place. What makes it so special for you the driver?
Where do you start with Spa? It is an amazing circuit and for sure one of the best on the planet. The sensations a driver experiences at corners like Eau Rouge/Raidillion, Pouhon and Blanchimont are not like you feel anywhere else in the world. It is unique in every way and to think you are competing on parts of the track that were used back in the first Grand Prix season in 1950 makes it very special indeed.
What are your favourite memories of Spa?
PM: Spa is the type of track where you get great memories whenever or whatever you are racing. But of course the ones that really stick in the memory are the victories and I am lucky that I have won here a few times.
I first raced at Spa in 2004 in Formula Renault. In 2006 I won in World Series by Renault at Spa, taking pole, fastest lap and the victory. Then in 2008 I won in the GP2 Series for the first time. Then I took another win in my championship year in 2010 which was a sweet moment. In Formula 1 I qualified sixth in 2012. So all in all I have great memories of the track and feel that I have a special relationship with it going back many years.
With a vast variety of corners at Spa how do you think the E22 will perform there?
PM: We hope it's good there. If we can have a clean weekend technically, without any power unit or other issues, then we will be in a good position to challenge for points. Spa always throws up some variables with the weather being the obvious one. It would be nice to be higher up than the last few races. If we can achieve this and we have a good package then I believe we can come away with something very positive from Belgium.