Q. What can you conclude from the race in Japan?
BS: It was a bit of a tough race in Suzuka; I had a difficult start where I was squeezed out at turn two and that lost me a few positions. Ultimately I didn't feel I had the right car to perform at the level Vitaly was performing. Each time I tried to push a bit harder the car felt very edgy, and I ended up going off the track on several occasions. This put me behind other cars which were running at the same pace or a bit slower which meant I was then stuck behind them and I couldn't pass. Looking at the data we found that we had a bit of a problem with the downforce as we were losing load throughout the race. On a high speed circuit you do not want that to happen. One of the most pleasing aspects of the weekend was coming back from my shunt in FP3 to qualify with the same lap time as my team-mate - I think we can take a positive note from that. The team did a great job putting the car back together in such a short time after the mistake I made (in free practice 3) and I was happy to deliver a good result for them by getting into Q3. As a team we are working well together and I'm learning a lot from the engineers and mechanics with every race that passes.
Q. How do you handle the pressure of coming back from something like your FP3 shunt to perform so strongly in qualifying?
BS: I helped the team with the rebuild of the car and I even bled my own brakes! And I did a good job as the pedal was firm! In qualifying I had to 'remove my brain', as Eric told me: 'just drive without thinking about it,' and that's what I did. I just attacked as I had nothing else to lose at that moment in time. I knew the car was good enough for a top ten position and that's what I achieved.
Q. Next stop Korea - what are your memories from last year?
BS: My memories of last year's event are not great; I had suspension failure in practice and then I had a very difficult race with the rain, safety car and then the red flag. It was a very difficult way to learn a new track and certainly an eventful weekend. This year will be like starting afresh.
Q. What's your impression of the circuit?
BS: It is a difficult track, and I think there are many places where you can make mistakes. There are off-camber corners scattered through the track and for a driver that's not really the most comfortable thing. However, it's the same for everybody and I'm hoping that we can use Suzuka as a baseline for when we arrive in Korea then take the car out for the first time on Friday. From then we can just chip away at the time and get on target for qualifying and the race.
Q. With a similar downforce level to Suzuka and a number of medium to high speed corners, do you think it will suit the R31?
BS: Yes, I think it should. There are a few big traction requirements in Korea but the type of tarmac is very smooth and the layout of the track mean that all the weaknesses we had in Singapore won't be as pronounced in Korea. We should be strong again and our car should be in the top 10 all the way to the end of the season.
Q. How did it feel to be back amongst the points in Japan?
VP: It was a good feeling and I am satisfied with how I drove over the course of the three days. I was pleased with my pace in the practice sessions and I managed to secure a respectable position in qualifying, which gave me a strong chance of being on the points board again. Did I capitalise on the grid position I had? Not as much as I would have liked, no. I thought I could have been in the hunt for seventh or eighth, but our strategy played out reasonably in the end. It was evidence again that our car adapts well to the faster circuits.
Q. You pulled out your best tricks near the end of the race, passing the Force India cars along the way...
VP: Yes, I enjoyed the last phase of the race because I was able to use the soft tyres well to pass Paul (Di Resta) and Adrian (Sutil) and close in on Sergio (Perez). Throughout the first stages of the race I wasn't able to make much ground on the cars in front because I had to look after the tyres, but I knew that as I got closer to the chequered flag I would be able to get back in the top 10.
Q. Your result gave the team a bit more breathing space in the battle for fifth place in the Constructors' Championship - how important were those two points?
VP: I think they were crucial. Extending our lead (in fifth place) was target number one last weekend, and we achieved that so we can have no complaints from that perspective.
Q. Now it's the Korean Grand Prix - have you got some good momentum behind you to get an even better result there?
VP: Yes, I have momentum and confidence behind me, but I'm fully mindful that it will be a different proposition to Suzuka. Some of it is driven at high speed, but there are also a few second gear corners too, which our car won't be so keen on. It was quite a dirty circuit last year, but I expect that to be less of an issue this time around. We will collectively put our thinking caps on again to see how we can get the most from the weekend.