Being in F1 brings with it plenty of media attention. How is that sitting with you?
I’m quite lucky I’m not a a global superstar - not even close to it. So I’m in quite a nice position when I can still do normal things. It’s not that I don’t enjoy that type of thing, it’s just I’m not used to it. I do like to stay at home, just relax.
Australia was a big shock, that first race; we had events on the Wednesday, there were so many people there and I was like “so, this is F1”. I’ll get used to it.
Friday of FP1 [Free Practice One] was the most nervous I’ve ever been in a car. But after that, you get in the car and it’s fine.
Have you had much of a say in the 2021 rule changes?
Not too much input in it. The GPDA (Grand Prix Driver’s Association), that’s really the input we can give. I think it’s working very well; let’s say the strategy group in F1 listen to us, and they need to. The input we give is beneficial. People don’t understand how hard following is (in a race), how easily the tyres tend to overheat. It’s hard even for the people deciding the rules to understand that.
Despite this, you’re happy with the feedback you’re able to give as a driver?
The fact that they’re listening to the drivers can only be a good thing. The teams are there for themselves; it’s very hard for the teams within these meetings to think outside of their own interests.
What’s your favourite of the tracks coming up?
Silverstone was great, but I'd say Suzuka. It’s a track I haven’t been to and the one I’m most excited about. It’s an old-school track, high-speed, and I think the one place that could rival the British fans. Japanese and British fans are the two titans of the sport.
Is there anything you miss about Formula 2?
Not too much. The one thing that’s a lot nicer is it’s purely about the driving. You’re with your engineers 90% of the day, you’re so zoned in. You’re doing that in F1 as well, but your priorities are everywhere. You’ve got obligations to do other things; it sometimes feels like you’re not spending as much time as you want to with the guys. You kind of have this feeling like you’re not in control at times.
I guess you could also say in F2 that it’s a lot more of an even playing field. We’ve got the same car performance-wise, and you go into every race with a real chance to win, which unfortunately isn’t the case with F1.
Do you reckon the playing field can become more even in F1 in 2021?
I wish there were a way. Something like the American championships do: split the prize more equally. But it’s a tricky thing, because big money is involved. I would love to see an even playing field aside from all the car regulations; I think there's an issue with predictability in the sport. It was very good in Austria, but previous to that...
Going back to 2011/2012, the first six races had six different winners. I’d like to see that again. I like the midfield as it is, but unfortunately it’s not being shown as much on TV, which is the biggest shame.
Are you still interested in motoring outside of motorsport?