Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll look ahead to this weekend's race at Portimao, a track on which both drivers have previously raced.
Currently third in the team standings, among leading betting sites like online sports betting Illinois, a year ahead of its morphing into Aston Martin, the Silverstone-based outfit is tipped for its best season ever.
Few drivers have recent experience of Portimao, so do you expect the field to be levelled?
Lance Stroll: "Maybe! We're all professionals and, like all the teams, we'll go in having done as much homework as we possibly could. On Friday, it's going to be about how quickly we get up to speed and learn. I suspect by qualifying, everyone will be raring to go and maximising everything."
You've driven here in your junior single-seater career. What were your impressions of the circuit?
LS: "I raced there in European Formula 3 and I remember there being lots of elevation changes. It was also quite bumpy, but it's now been repaved ahead of the Grand Prix. Regardless, the quick parts and elevation will really test drivers and I think it will be exciting to watch on TV."
Considering the lack of knowledge here, how important is a clean weekend?
LS: "It's so competitive in Formula 1 that you always need to have a clean weekend, even at a more familiar circuit, so I don't think it'll be any different here. We just need to focus on our programme, work through it, and get everything out of the car over the course of the weekend. I'm excited to get going!"
What's your experience of driving in Portimao?
Sergio Perez: "I drove there in GP2 back in 2009, but it was a long time ago and I don't remember too much of the circuit! So it almost feels like going back to a totally new track. It's going to be an exciting challenge for us all to try and get up to speed with it as quickly as we can."
Will the lack of experience across the grid level the playing field?
SP: "I think it will. We're in the middle of a run of unfamiliar races now. We hadn't raced at the Nurburgring for a long time until the last race, Portimao is totally new to F1, and we have Imola coming up. It's unusual to have a run of races on tracks we don't know well. As a driver, I enjoy that feeling. It's always more of a challenge to race on a new circuit for the first time. I hope it can help mix things up and make for an exciting race for the fans."
What are your experiences of Portugal? Is it a place you enjoy visiting?
SP: "I speak a little bit of Portuguese, but I've not really spent time there. I think when the world is a bit more normal I will visit and experience the Algarve properly."
Like Mugello, Portimao is new to Formula 1 this year. While at the Nurburgring, teams could rely on some historical data, Portimao will not only require extensive pre-event simulation, but also ongoing studying of car dynamics, tyre behaviour and strategy during the weekend.
The tyre range for Portimao is C1, C2 and C3, meaning a return to the hardest possible compounds for the first time since Mugello – and they also appeared at Silverstone. Weather conditions and the amount of tyre energy through corners will determine how viable the C1 will be over the weekend.
If you look at the circuit layout, you could be forgiven for thinking Portimao is a flat-out, high-speed circuit, but it's actually more of a low-speed circuit. The amount of grip-limited time spent at low-speed actually makes it somewhat slower than Barcelona, the Nurburgring and Budapest. Overall, Portimao could be described as a lower-speed circuit with some high-speed characteristics.
Portimao is located on the south coast of Portugal, meaning that wind speed and direction will be a key factor across the weekend. Any sudden change could radically alter car balance and affect a lap or stint.
Portimao will likely require a fairly high level of downforce in the range of Barcelona, Nurburgring and Budapest due to its average speed and corner characteristics, putting an emphasis on good traction out of the corners. The search for optimum balance will be made more challenging due to Formula 1's lack of data and experience of running at the circuit.
Check out our Thursday gallery from Portimao, here.