Daniel Ricciardo extended his run of points to six consecutive races after picking up two points in Portugal. The Australian heads to Imola this weekend aiming to return to scoring double figures as the Championship grows close.
Are you looking forward to driving at Imola for the first time?
Daniel Ricciardo: Imola is another new one for us. I'm excited about going there as we've had a great run of racing at new places and I've enjoyed them all so far. It's also back to another Italian race and I've had good results in Italy this year so I'm hoping to have another strong one this weekend. I haven't raced at Imola before and I'm sure there will be a bit of an aura about the place as there is so much history there and that will be nice to experience.
What do you know about the track?
DR: The track itself is a short one and I think overtaking will be difficult, but it's a relatively long straight so we'll have to see on Sunday. It's medium downforce with some medium to fast corners so it'll be an exciting one and a challenge at the wheel. We'll be looking to get as many points as possible after a challenging weekend in Portugal, so I'm looking forward to going there and doing the best possible job.
How do you look back on Portugal?
I think, as a team, we leave Portugal feeling neither happy nor too disappointed. It was a race where we wanted to score points to make sure we keep in touch with our direct rivals. From Friday it was clear the weekend would be tough, especially with learning the tyres, so to come away with some points is okay. We couldn't do much more than eighth and ninth, so we go to Imola wanting to return to competing for the top six places.
It was a huge effort from Esteban Ocon to manage his tyres for over 50 laps last weekend as he scored four points in Portugal. Now the Frenchman returns to Imola, the venue where he secured the Formula 3 title over six years ago.
What do you know about Imola?
Esteban Ocon: I raced there in 2014 in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship. I have very good memories from that weekend, as it's when I won the title with one round to go. I won the first race from pole position, finished fourth in the second race and then on the podium again in the final race. I'd say Imola is actually one of my favourite circuits and I can't wait to drive a Formula 1 car there - it will be extra special. I also love racing in Italy, my heart has a big place for this country.
What's a lap like there?
EO: The track itself has some interesting combination of corners with awesome character to them, such as Acque Minerale. It's slightly downhill, quite fast and then climbs up. There are a lot of changes of angle at this track and that's what makes it so characteristic. It has special kerbs too and types of chicanes that we do not see all year. As a driver, you love these combination of corners as it's the most rewarding thing. Imola should have more grip [than Portugal] as the track hasn't been resurfaced for a long time and it's used regularly by other series.
What are your post-Portugal thoughts?
EO: It was good for the team to have both cars in the points as it was quite a challenging weekend for us. We'll analyse why we weren't quite as quick as we have been in recent weeks and look to find improvements for Imola where we aim for a better result. On my side, I was really satisfied to do over 50 laps on the same set of tyres. It was really well managed by the team and I'm happy with how everything went during the race.
The team recorded its fifth double points finish of the season in the Portuguese Grand Prix to remain within sight in the fight for third in the Constructors' Championship. Chief Race Engineer, Ciaron Pilbeam looks ahead to this weekend's Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.
What does the team know about Imola?
Ciaron Pilbeam: Imola is another essentially new circuit for Formula 1 this year, as it is several years since we last raced there. The cars are very different now, the tyres are different, and the circuit has changed a little, with the removal of what was the last chicane effectively extending the Start-Finish straight. It is a medium downforce circuit, with a mixture of slow and medium-speed corners.
How has the team planned to manage the short weekend format?
CP: One of the features of the event is the shorter weekend format, with a single 90-minute practice session on Saturday morning before qualifying in the afternoon and the race on Sunday as usual. This will mean that we go into qualifying with less information that we normally have, so we will have some quick decisions to make in the gap between practice and qualifying.
What is the feedback from the Portuguese Grand Prix?
CP: Portugal was a slightly disappointing weekend for the team. We missed some performance compared to where we have been at recent events, both in qualifying and the race. Despite this we executed the weekend well and benefitted from the misfortunes of some of our close rivals in the Constructors' Championship. Overall, we were satisfied with the final outcome, albeit with some work to do to understand the lack of pace.