In his maiden Formula 1 season, Brazilian Felipe Nasr currently shares 13th position in the Drivers’ standings with Lotuses Pastor Maldonado. His 2015 boasts impressive results such as placing his Sauber fifth in his first ever Formula 1 race in Australia, as well as a sixth place finish in Russia.
We caught up with Felipe in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix paddock to chat about his first season in Formula 1 as well as his goals for 2016.
You’re currently 13th in the championship heading into the final race, how do you rate your first season in Formula 1?
Yes it’s been a very positive season, a lot of good experiences from my first season you know you learn so many new things the circuits I didn’t know, you just build yourself up through the year, you get to learn how to setup the car better, how to get involved with the team better, how to talk about the technical side and you just can’t start anticipating many things before the weekend. Looking back so far I had a great beginning of this journey by finishing fifth in Australia, and there was some more results like finishing sixth in Russia. I think all these opportunities I’ve had are really important to show why I came to Formula 1.
And the battle with your team-mate Marcus [Ericsson] which you have won, has that been quite challenging for you?
Well it’s never easy, you have to work hard and as I said it’s a whole new experience for me and for Marcus it’s his second year of F1, and so I had to do many things without previous experience. So far it was nice to have a relationship with Marcus inside the team, there was good fair play inside the team with helping the team score points and trying to face the difficult times together, and that’s the thing that’s important for any race team to have.
Now that you’re at the end of your first season you’re obviously wanting more for next year, is there anything to look back on and say “I could’ve done that better?” What’s the biggest learning point of the year?
There are always things to do better, I think as a driver I’m still yet to learn and develop in many areas and for that you need time, you need years and years of experience and you know a lot of positives to take. For sure when I come back next year I will have all these experiences behind me and be ready to face the New Year and it’s much easier when you have this background.
What been the most challenging part of the year? What have you learned most from?
First of all when you jump from another series you need to learn the complexity of the car, the procedures, the languages, the communication with the team, the whole environment is much bigger than any other series. And in Formula 1, you are working with 300 people together in the factories so it’s different to any other series how much commitment there is and how much more seriously you take things. So this was a challenge, and also the way people are looking for results, you have to deliver these Formula 1. People are here to judge you quickly so if you don’t deliver quickly that isn’t good for you, so I think that was another thing you have to be there to take it, which I think with the opportunities I had this year I was able to show that.
What has been the most rewarding part of 2015? What made you say “this is why I became a racer?”
When you get good results there’s no doubt about it, when you look at the results I have achieved in difficult situations. Australia is a great example because I was in court on the Monday because of driver contracts, and we lost free practice one in a circuit that I didn’t have a clue where to turn and we came out fifth in the end, so that’s rewarding.
And also when you have a car that is nowhere near the top 10 runners and you get in the top 10 it shows that not only my work but the teams work to maximize those performances.
You’re equal on points at the moment with Pastor [Maldonado], do you think you can score that one extra point and beat him in the championship?
So do you call on your experience in the Williams even though that was a test? Or can you use your GP2 experience?
It’s better than not knowing anything. All of these you take on board. I got on the podium twice I think in GP2, so it’s been a good track.
Have you set targets on where you can improve for 2016 and where you want to be in certain parts of the season, or will you take it race by race?
I think race by race, but I think the aim is still to score points when we can and to be more frequently in the points. But for that you need the car to be more competitive, and I can use the experiences this year to try and search for the results next year, so as I said I’m still at the beginning, I’m still taking a lot on board and there’s still a lot to learn and a lot to see in Formula 1, a lot to face, but it’s nice to have a competitive car so you can have the opportunity every weekend.
And bringing it back to the competitiveness of Sauber, how has the development progressed throughout the year, was the Singapore upgrade positive?
It’s been a small step forward, of course everyone was expecting more but I think that’s one of the points I like from the team, that they were very honest to me when I got in the team about how much progress they have made during the year, they never oversold anything whether we were going to have podiums or were going to have the car one second quicker, nothing like that. We have always been very straight forward and realistic and that’s what we have had all year. So it’s not going to be different the way we are thinking next year, we have different things going on now and we are trying to improve the car in many areas so hopefully another distant step forward will help.
And what about yourself, how do you recharge the batteries after the final race of the season?
Good holidays, good preparation, analysing things I could’ve done better so I can continue improving and yeah get prepared again.
So you won’t completely switch off, F1 will still be in the back of your mind?
Yeah exactly, I thinks it’s the same time you’re on holidays but you also need to prepare for next year.
Images via Sauber F1 Team