Vitaly Petrov: "The priority is to get the experience of a race distance"
Vitaly, you made another strong start to the race in Malaysia. How did it feel from the cockpit?
When you start the race just outside the top ten, it's hard to overtake as many cars as I did in
Bahrain or Australia, but I still made up a couple of positions. I felt very comfortable in the first part of the race and enjoyed some good fights with the cars around me, especially with Hamilton. We then made an early pit stop and changed to the prime tyres, which was probably a mistake because I struggled for grip compared with the options. But in the end it didn't matter because my race ended with the gearbox problem.
You're now three races into your F1 career; are you pleased with how things are going?
I'm pleased with my relationship with the team, especially with the engineers who have really helped me adapt to Formula 1. I've been spending as much time as I can with them talking about the systems on the car, the set-up and where we can improve. On the other hand, it has been frustrating not to finish the races, especially retiring so early in Bahrain and Australia, which has limited my experience. At the moment I only know what it feels like to complete half a race in terms of managing the tyres and adapting to the changing fuel load so that's not ideal.
The next race is in Shanghai - what do you think of the circuit?
I've raced there in GP2 so I don't need to worry about learning the track. It's a challenging circuit with a lot of different corners, which makes it a very technical circuit and difficult to find the right set-up. There are lots of long corners, such as turn 13, where your car understeers and it's hard to get on the power, which always feels frustrating. Of course, I've only experienced the circuit in GP2 and I'm sure it will be even more challenging in an F1 car.
What targets do you have in mind for this weekend?
The priority is to try and finish the race and get the experience of a race distance. I also want to get closer to the top ten and hopefully fight for points in the race. I also need to continue working hard on my qualifying performance so that I can make it through to Q2, and hopefully Q3.
Robert Kubica: "We can be proud of our recent performance"
Robert, you had a strong weekend in Malaysia and finished the race in fourth place. Were you satisfied with the result?
If you had offered me fourth place before the start of the weekend, I would have taken it. Like Australia, it was another strong performance by the whole team and a good weekend all round. In qualifying we made the right decisions and reacted well to the weather conditions, and in the race I made up a couple of places at the start, which was important for the final result. To have scored 30 points in two races is a good achievement and as much as we could have hoped for.
The team is adding new developments at each race -- can you feel the car improving?
It's great to see the team pushing so hard and bringing new parts for each race but, as a driver, it's difficult to judge how much the car has improved when you are driving on different circuits each week, and in different weather conditions. For example, Sepang is a totally different circuit to Melbourne and requires different characteristics from the car. But we know from the data that the car is getting better and better.
Are you looking forward to this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix?
It's not my favourite Grand Prix of the year, but all the races are just as important as each other with the same points available. The track is quite interesting because there are some unusual corners, such as turn one, which is almost a full circle and is quite difficult technically. The circuit has a similar layout to Sepang with both high and low speed corners, so I think we can be competitive there. And we will have some more updates for the car to help us continue closing the gap to the front.
What are your thoughts on the season so far?
Obviously Bahrain was a big disappointment but it was good to make up the lost ground in the last two races. We know that our car is still not the quickest, but we have made some good decisions in the races and I feel we really deserve the results we have achieved. I don't think there are any real surprises this year. Most of the teams are very close together in terms of performance with Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari as the top three teams. We are just behind them along with Mercedes, and then you have a close fight between Force India, Williams and Toro Rosso. So it's very tight and we need to keep pushing to get closer to the front and to maintain the advantage over the teams behind us.