Daniel, itís traditional for a driver to start the Singapore preview by saying itís a bit hot and quite humid...
Well it is hot! And very humid! I think itís all those tall buildings downtown Ė the heat doesnít have anywhere to go. Itís the most physical challenge of the year. Itís the only race of the season where you crack open your visor to let in some cool air and instantly wish you hadnít because itís hotter outside. By the warm-up lap your chilled drinks bottle is the temperature of a freshly-poured cup of tea. Itís a tough place to race Ė but I love the challenge. I think most of the drivers do.
Youíre usually a happy camper in Singapore Ė do you like the buzz?
I do. Firstly I like the track. Street circuits are fun: youíre bouncing off the kerbs, kissing the walls, itís cool. And the cityís great. Good restaurants, good atmosphere, great nightlife. Yeah, my kind of place...
Do you have time to see any of it? Most days the team are leaving the track at 4am...
Maybe not on a Friday or Saturday night. Itís a pretty crazy schedule. Iíll end up chilling by the pool perhaps, when we get back at 4am before going to bed Ė but itís not as if weíd have any action on those nights if it were an afternoon race. Sundayís pretty good in Singapore though. The longer the race has been there, the more familiar the city has become with our schedule and more restaurants and bars are staying open later. Itís surprising what you can do at 4am in Singapore!
This is the nearest F1 has been to your hometown since March Ė will you get back to Perth at all?
Sadly not this trip. Last year I did because there was a week between Singapore and Japan but this year, because theyíre back to back, I wonít be able to. But plenty of Aussies make the trip up to Singapore and Iíll have a few friends from home coming to the race Ė which is always fun.
Daniel, how do you summarise Suzukaís figure-eight circuit?
Itís fast, itís flowing, and itís got everything. High-speed, lowspeed, inclines, drops. Wonderful circuit.
Whatís the key to getting the lap right?
I think probably the first sector. If you can get a good balance on the car and link up all the left-right, left-right corners, which normally puts you in a good position for the rest of the lap. So, if you want to prioritise the car setup, itís in that sector.
In the last couple of years youíve made an effort to see more of Japan than just the paddock Ė whatís your impression?
Oh I love going to Japan, and Iím absolutely fascinated by Tokyo. I turn into a complete tourist, gawping at the place, the people, the food Ė itís just so incredibly cool. Personally, I really like hanging out in the tiny bars: crazy little places maybe only 5 square meters. Itís a really good experience. I recommend it.
The Singapore Grand Prix is regularly the longest race of the season in terms of duration and two of the last three races at Marina Bay have been ended by the clock rather than distance. How tough is such a long race for the drivers?
Itís definitely one of the most challenging races of the championship. Itís the longest, one of the hottest, one of the most physically demanding races we face but having said that I do like the track, because although itís a street circuit, itís quite a bit quicker than Monaco. As grands prix go, it tends to have more atmosphere than the average...
What does it feel like to get out of the car at the end of the race?
Last year it was extremely tough because my water bottle didnít work, so it was a very difficult race. But this year I think Iím much better prepared from a physical point of view, so it should be fine. For example, Malaysia this year felt a lot more comfortable than last year and itís similar, so I think I will be OK.
Do you enjoy the feel of the night race and the city?
The weekend has its own pace. We obviously try to stay on European time, so youíre up later, but itís fine, I donít have a problem with switching on to night racing and the schedule. As for the city, itís difficult to find the time to go out in Singapore. When you arrive you do get to go out a bit, to go to the malls and have a look around, but to be honest itís not something you get much of an opportunity to do because once the race weekend starts the schedule makes it pretty difficult.
Drivers often mention Suzuka in the same breath as Spa in terms of the challenge it presents and the enjoyment the circuit offers. Is that the case for you?
Definitely. Itís a very special track. Itís got great history, a good feeling and also a lot of proper balls-out corners, which I like. Itís a really cool circuit. Also, itís where I was announced as a Red Bull driver last year so thatís a good memory.
Of course last yearís race was very, very difficult because of Jules Bianchiís accident and we will all naturally be thinking of him when we are driving there this year.
Whatís the best part of the circuit?
There are plenty of places that are really fast: the double left of Spoon; 130R can be pretty challenging in the wet. The ĎEssesí are very tricky; if you get any bit of it wrong it compromises your whole lap. You have to be brilliantly precise. To be honest I find the whole lap really interesting though; I like it a lot. I love high-speed corners and Suzuka has a lot of those, so itís very easy to enjoy. If you get the flow and the lines right itís a great feeling.
Itís also got a very particular atmosphere, with some of the most passionate fans we encounter all season. Last year was your first experience of that, how did you find it?
Japanese fans are very warm and welcoming and the atmosphere there is great. You always get given some odd gifts. Last year I got given a lot of fans Ė not people, things to, you know, cool you down! You also get a ton of stuff to sign. I really appreciate that the fans make an effort. They are passionate about Formula One and they really show it.