Carlin's Robert Wickens has been one of the fastest men in this year's Formula Renault 3.5 Series. Despite non-scoring in the last round at Monza, the Canadian remains third in the drivers' standings, and in touch with team-mate and championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne.
Wickens, second in this morning's free practice session at Monaco, talked to AUTOSPORT about his prospects ahead of the series' most prestigious meeting.
Q. How was this morning for you, Robert?
Robert Wickens: The traffic was obviously a bitch, but everyone expected it. On my final lap I had a bit of traffic. Well, it was one car, but I was stuck right on his gearbox and all I could do was follow him around from the start of sector two onwards. There is definitely a little bit more to come, but I am sure that it's the same thing for everyone.
Q. Is the experience from your last Formula Renault 3.5 race in Monaco in 2008 of any value this weekend?
RW: Not really. When I was here in 2008, just the first session was dry and then qualifying and the race were both wet. If felt good to come back and be out there as a more mature driver. Also, my last time here the cars were very different. The tyres are different, and the brakes are different because we use a different master cylinder, so the general car feel is quite a bit different to how it was in 2008.
Q. What are your thoughts on fighting for the championship with your team-mate? Carlin has appealed against Vergne's 10-second penalty at Monza. How much are you keeping track of those events?
RW: Carlin has had a strong car at every race this year, all I can do is keep making use of the equipment. I am pretty sure that the championship leader will be in group one [in Saturday's split qualifying session], and the evens will be in group two.
Unless Jean-Eric's appeal goes through in the next 24 hours, I'll be in the odd group. If he wins the race at Monza because the appeal goes through then I will be second in the championship, if not I will be third. The way the points work, I am only 19 points behind, and if I double up in Nurburgring and JEV finishes second I would still take 14 points off him. So JEV can be on his game, but as long as I continue doing what I have been in the first few rounds things should work out.
Q. Is it tough not having raced on a street circuit since the GP3 race in Valencia last year?
RW: Well, I was pretty rapid in North America, where there were plenty of street circuits. We had them in [Formula] BMWs and Atlantics, especially in Atlantics where out of a 14-race schedule 10 rounds were on temporary circuits. Even my normal style suits temporary circuits. I am not one to be driving wide on the exits of corners. I usually keep it between the white lines anyway. I just love sliding a car between the walls.