Catching up with the main man in Montréal ahead of his home Grand Prix!
Lance, it’s a home race for both you and the team. Can you describe how that feels?
LS: Well, it’s obviously a very special weekend; it’s good to be back home. I don’t get to come back often. The week leading up to the race has been great, catching up with friends and family. I enjoyed my time playing hockey with the Montréal Canadiens yesterday, that was fun. And now back to business…
And you’ve got your own grandstand this weekend, is that right?
LS: That’s right – at the hairpin, like last year – so that will be very special on my installation lap tomorrow, with all the Canadian flags in the grandstands. It’s one of the best weekends on the calendar and definitely the highlight of my season?
What are your first impressions on the new paddock facility here?
LS: It’s beautiful. It’s great for the city and great for the Grand Prix. I hope it sticks around because we all think it’s a great place to come race. It’s awesome to drive around here and there’s great racing as well. I’m really pleased for Montréal – let’s enjoy it.
What do you like most about this track and what’s the most challenging and / or fun part of it for a driver?
LS: I think just the technicality of it in general. It’s got a lot of character. Lewis mentioned it earlier. You’re riding the kerbs, there’s not a lot of room for error, the long straights allow for good overtaking, so there’s a bit of everything. For a racing driver, that makes the weekend in general very exciting. It’s a lot of fun to drive over one lap. You have to be very committed and use all of the race track. On Sunday it’s a proper race, and that’s great for the fans as well.
Tell us about the car’s potential here at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. What do you think you can achieve?
LS: Well, historically it’s been a track that’s suited our car. I mean, of course, it’s a new year and the competition in the midfield is very tight. But I think there is an opportunity for us this weekend. It’s been a challenging couple of events, in Spain and in Monaco, not managing to score points. But we’re looking to turn that around this weekend.
You have scored points this year – in Australia and Baku – but Qualifying seems to have been quite tough for you so far. How does the car feel on light fuel? Is it very tricky?
LS: Yeah, I mean, at times I think we have just unfortunately missed out. There are reasons behind why the performance has been poor, but it’s definitely a focus point and we’ll be working on it moving forward.
Is there a particular reason? With the car or the set-up?
LS: I think there’s always a reason. I think we’ve been unfortunate a couple of times with traffic here and there. But at the last couple of races the car just hasn’t been very competitive, which is the main reason, really. In order to qualify well, you need a quick car under you and, with the midfield being so tight, we see from track to track the strengths and weaknesses of different teams on different types of circuit. The last couple of events haven’t suited our car. But then there’s definitely things on my side that I need to work on, to get to grips with the car. It’s a new car, a new environment for me and I need to work on my weaknesses and build on my strengths. On the positive side, the race pace has been very good. We’ve managed to score points in a couple of events – but we definitely want to be consistently in the points more often and fighting up at the front, that’s the goal.
The rules are being considered for revision and right now we’ve got a pretty substantial gap between the top three teams and the midfield. What do you, as a driver, think should happen to the rules?
LS: I think closer racing, to start off with, is the main thing. There’s a bunch of other factors which could use some change but I think closer racing and budget caps to make the field more equal would be much more exciting. You look at the NHL, the NFL, or the NBA and the teams are so close. On any given Sunday in the NFL, any team can win. That’s because it’s capped properly and that allows for exciting competition. It would be great to see the same thing in Formula One where instead of a second and a half or two seconds between the field, it comes down to tenths. I think that would really spice things up. And then, of course, closer racing – regulation changes to allow us to race wheel to wheel, which I know is definitely a focus point. So, really all these things.