What's your previous form at Abu Dhabi?
So far I have done only one race in Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi. It was my last race with Ferrari and of course my last before I moved to rallying.
You didn't race for two years after that race - is there any relationship between the two factors?
That was a boring race, I can tell you! I finished the race back in 12th position and there was nothing I could do during the race. I'm looking forward to improving on my record at the track and I'm sure it should be a more interesting race for me this time round!
What do you think of the circuit?
The facilities are second to none at Abu Dhabi. The track layout makes it really challenging for overtaking, while there are not too many places to pass. You really have to qualify well to be on the top, and to get a strong result from there. There are many corners and you need good overall downforce and grip. The car has to ride the kerbs very well, too.
Are there any distinct challenges at the Yas Marina Circuit?
Having an evening race with a mixture of day and night makes a different challenge from circuits that we see anywhere else. We start with the sun and finish with the lights. It's different, interesting and spectacular too.
Give us a quick overview of your weekend in India...
I had a very good car there, but I just couldn't do anything with it as I was not able to pass on the straight. It was quite disappointing but that's how it goes. We put ourselves in that position on Saturday with the set-up we chose for qualifying and we paid the price. We had the speed but not in the right place and when you are behind someone there's not much you can do. I really thought we had a car which meant we could fight for a podium as our lap times were good, but the mistake we made on Saturday took all the chances out. The Drivers' Championship battle is pretty much gone for me I think, but hopefully in the next race we can have the speed to be able to take more Championship points.
Are you optimistic with the E20 for Abu Dhabi and looking forwards?
Hopefully we can be a bit smarter and use our race speed to take some more Championship points. The car is good, and if we manage to qualify higher, then I think we would be in a good position to be able to take the most from the next few races.
Your contract with the team for 2013 has just been confirmed; what have you learnt from your return to Formula 1?
This season has shown me that I still love racing as much as I ever did. Obviously, I would have not come back to the sport if I did not feel like this. Driving a Formula 1 car still gives me the same inspiration and I feel the same passion for it.
Lotus F1 Team is your fourth team in Formula 1: how have things gelled?
I have been very happy with the team; how they work, how they approach the races and how they invest in developing the car. I think with the progress behind the scenes at Enstone we could be fighting for the podium even more often next year and also be able to make a stronger challenge for the Championship.
We, and around 500,000 other people, recently saw you signing an enforced contract on YouTube. How civilised was the process with Lotus F1 Team in comparison?
Well the team did not need to tie me up and blackmail me with a photo album, unlike certain other contracts you may have seen me sign recently. That was not necessary on this occasion.
How strong is your motivation heading into the last races of this year and looking ahead to 2013?
My motivation is as strong as it's always been. I'm keen to race on.
What's the Yas Marina circuit like from your point of view?
Abu Dhabi is another exotic destination. The track is not used very much during the year which means we know we're going to get low grip there at the start of the weekend. The track looks very nice on TV and there are many second gear corners which should suit the E20; I'm looking forward to it!
What's your previous experience at the track?
I have a lot of good memories from Abu Dhabi and know it quite well. Last year I took pole position and finished second in the GP2 Asia Series race and I have also won a GT1 World Championship race there. Most recently, my return to Formula 1 came at this circuit in a free practice session with the team last year so I'm looking forward to returning. It's normally sunny and a nice place to be. Let's see what we can do.
You struggled for grip in India; do you think there will be better grip at start of weekend in Abu Dhabi?
Abu Dhabi may be similar to India, but we have the V8 Supercars with us so they might clean it up quite well! I hope there is a little more grip than in India because most of the time I like to brake late so when there is no grip that is a bit difficult!
You ran the Coanda exhaust system for the first time last weekend; how did it feel?
The Coanda exhaust is now much better understood. We have to do some work to try to get better results in low grip conditions, especially in qualifying - which is somewhere that I think we can improve - and then in the race the car is just very, very good as usual. So we will continue working on it and try to get some good results in Abu Dhabi. Mainly I would like to start the weekend better than in India where FP1, FP2 and FP3 were not good for me. I didn't get the right feeling with the car immediately and it set us back for the whole weekend. I think we need to put that in order for Abu Dhabi. Our aim will be to try to start well, work hard and go into qualifying with more knowledge.
How was your race in India?
Honestly, I think it was one of my best races of the season, driving 100% on every lap. I made a good start and then really pushed hard to score the points, with some good overtaking moves in the race. Unfortunately I got stuck behind a Force India - just as I did in Korea - so I know the rear of that car very well! Hopefully they will see the rear of my car soon! The race was good, the car was good and the pit stop was fantastic; I think we were the second quickest pit lane entry-to-exit on the whole grid, so that is good to have in our pocket.
How happy are you that the team still has developments arriving on the car this late in the season?
It's very satisfying. Clearly for us - and for everybody else on the grid - it is important. We're getting some new parts in Abu Dhabi which we are looking forward to and everything we find now that works on the car we can use for next year. The development process is on-going; both for the present and future.
Talk us through your thoughts on the race in India last weekend and looking ahead to Abu Dhabi...
It was a frustrating race in India; we clearly showed some good pace there and obviously the race we were held up quite considerably. We know that with a better qualifying result and a different race situation we could have definitely brought more Championship points home. I would say that our performance in India is good for the morale of the troops before the final three races, because we know we could have taken some points from Ferrari and McLaren. That's our aim in the next races.
What's in store from the team in Abu Dhabi?
I think we have some interesting developments coming for Abu Dhabi which should allow us to have more speed and even better performance from the car. Ideally this should put us in a position to have a more successful qualifying and definitely also help us in the race itself. Therefore, we look ahead to Abu Dhabi as being an interesting race for us. We will try to be in the top six for qualifying, and maintain or improve that for the race to bring some important points home.
Tell us about Romain's race in India, he's making good progress...
Romain did very well in India. He stayed out of trouble making a good, clean start and then went on to have a very good race. Throughout the race he was pushing hard and made some good overtaking manoeuvres. Compared with Korea when he had to be slightly more cautious, he is now back in the mood of racing and fighting. It's good and I think he is on the way to recovery and has really shown exactly why he deserves to be where he is.
Kimi has just renewed his contract with the team, how are you feeling about it?
Obviously I'm very happy that Kimi is staying with us, as we were expecting. It is nice to see that Kimi has found a home here and is happy to develop and progress with the team. It is also rewarding for us to have a World Champion like Kimi committing to us and helping the team to achieve its goal of being a top team next year.
James Allison, Technical Director
How much straight-line pace do we think we can regain for the final three races - we seem to have struggled in this area at the last two Grands Prix?
It is not really the straight-line pace that is the issue as we can set that wherever we like simply by choosing the rear wing setting. It is the power that we need to recover. Our first version of the Coanda system is rather power hungry. With Renault Sport's help we expect to claw back around one third of the loss in Abu Dhabi, and would be able to get around half of the loss back eventually.
How should the Abu Dhabi circuit, Yas Marina, suit the car?
Yas Marina doesn't have a very wide range of corners, and in fact they are all rather slow speed. This hasn't been our favourite type of track over the season as a whole, but it is not dissimilar to Valencia and we went pretty well there.
Are there any developments and updates to arrive at this second of a back-to-back combo?
We aim to introduce an exhaust pipe that keeps all of the Coanda downforce benefit, but sheds some of the horsepower penalty that we suffered with for our first iteration design.
What went wrong for qualifying in India - it looked more promising coming into the session...
We were looking pretty promising in P3 with Kimi, a little less so with Romain. However, we expected to be mixing it with the McLarens and Ferraris. A small step in the wrong direction with the setup on Kimi's car, and a minor error from Romain saw us qualify a little lower than we had hoped.
What were your thoughts of the Indian Grand Prix?
Our pace in the race was strong, with both drivers reporting that the car was excellent, which was good. Unfortunately Kimi spent most of his race looking at the back of Massa's car. We briefly got past him at the pit stop but only to be overtaken in the DRS zone down the straight and then really sat behind him without the speed or power to overtake him again. Kimi could comfortably drop back and then come up behind Felipe, so it was clear we were definitely faster than the Ferrari. This confirmed that we had qualified somewhat put of position with both cars. Sadly, with the compound choices being so conservative at this race, it was very hard to build up the necessary head of steam to force an overtake.
We know we will see the DDRS at the Young Driver test at Yas Marina which follows the Abu Dhabi Grand prix. How much progress can we hope to make and could we expect to see it in subsequent races?
Our plan is to work on understanding how to make it act in a sufficiently predictable manner to be deployable in a race. Given the difficulty we have experienced so far, I think it would be optimistic to see it used in anger this season, within the final races remaining.