Monza is a special place, so it’s great to be heading there after Spa for the next round of the GP3 Series. That’s especially the case after winning at Spa, and making a small gain in my advantage at the top of the championship.
I know Monza quite well, and I’m really looking forward to going back there. I’ve raced there in Formula 3, in 2012 and 2013 – in F3 you get three races per weekend and out of those six races only one was dry. It definitely left me feeling a bit cheated, because you see so many fantastic races at Monza, with everyone slipstreaming each other all the way through, and I haven’t really been a part of any of them! Still, GP3 is normally pretty entertaining around there so I’m looking forward to a few fun battles this weekend.
The reason why the racing is so good at Monza is because of the long straights, which means we have to run low downforce, which in turn means that when you follow someone closely you don’t lose the same amount of grip relative to the car in front that you would at other tracks. So you can get closer onto the straight, and you’ve got a longer distance to get into the tow and try to make a move.
At the same time, you also need a car that’s good on the brakes and is quick in the fast corners like the Lesmos, the Ascari chicane and Parabolica. So you need as much grip as you can get with as little downforce as possible – mechanical grip is everything around there.
The Carlin team I drive with were fast at Monza last year, so I’m confident we’ll have a good car and we can get another load of points. We’ve generally done our damage in qualifying this year. Although qualifying isn’t quite as critical at Monza as it is at other tracks, it’s still most useful to stick it at the front. Some people try to get a tow in qualifying at Monza, and it’s easy to get caught out doing that. I think the best thing is to just concentrate on doing your own thing, and if you do come across a tow then make the most of it.
As soon as I got back from Spa I started cracking on preparing for Monza, making sure everything is ready. Also, I’ve spent a bit of time training with my fellow Red Bull Junior Pierre Gasly, who’s racing in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series and GP2 this year. It wasn’t particularly ruthless training as that’s not what you need when the races are close together – it’s more making ourselves feel good and feel on top of our game for the weekend to come.
I’m confident for Monza and I don’t see why we won’t be quick. Hopefully we can all do a good job at the team and I can extend that points lead. After all, it would be great to head into the one-month break before the penultimate round in Russia knowing that I’ve got an even nicer buffer at the top of the points.