Mark, how was the winter – or the summer in your case? Are you rested and ready to go?
Yeah, I’ve had a good break. Last year we had a very long season, it felt like we finished at Christmas! I’ve had a decent rest but also some minor surgery on my leg that went very well, and now I’m ready to go. It’s certainly exciting to see the car for the first time and I can’t wait to get in on Tuesday.
This is your seventh year with the team, the longest driver-team partnership in F1 this year. Does that continuity help you?
The fact that this is my seventh season with the team is a massive advantage. I couldn’t have envisaged it when I joined because it’s hard to believe that you could be with the same Formula One team for seven years. Continuity is not always easy to achieve in this sport. I think the way we keep people excited and motivated here is important. It’s quite a small operation, but obviously we’re big on ambition and desire and that makes us perform very well. I’ve really enjoyed the years I’ve had here so far and I can’t wait to get going this season.
One change you do have for this year is a new race engineer. How will that work?
That’s right. Ciaran Pilbeam has moved on to another team after a long time with us and I have a new race engineer in Simon Rennie. I’m looking forward to us working together. Of course it’s a different role for me to have someone fresh into the team and different for him too, as he has to get used to the way we go about our work. But Simon’s an incredibly experienced race engineer, he’s worked with some great drivers, and is more than capable of doing the job and having us go out there and win grands prix.
You’ll be the first driver to test the RB9. What are you looking for in those first few laps?
I’ve been strapped into Adrian’s cars for quite a while now, so I know I can trust the car to do what it’s supposed to do. My job in Jerez will be to look for areas where we can improve the car and try to understand what it might need. Winter testing is very different to racing: next week is all about gathering data. We’ll be keeping the car circulating as much as we can, there will be really long hours in the garage for all the guys but we’re looking forward to getting out there and collecting as much information as we can.