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You mentioned winning a race in 2012 but then having a tough season last year and start to this year; how frustrating is it as a driver to feel like you've got to a point where you can win races and suddenly it's gone?
It depends. I don't feel frustrated. For sure I'm not feeling happy – this is normal – but I don't feel frustrated. I believe a lot in life and this is a part of my life. I don't know how to explain it but it is difficult to understand even for me. I changed from a good team and now it's not going as expected; this is part of life. Maybe I will learn even more, it will give me more preparation for the future. For sure I'm trying to enjoy it even if we are having problems and are not so competitive. I am trying to learn, trying to enjoy it, trying to give my maximum for the team.
As I mentioned before, I think the team is very happy because I'm not stupid to help the team from the development point of view. On the aerodynamic side I know very well what is the weakest point of the car and what is the strongest points, where we should focus, where to improve. I am a fighter, I want to win. I really want to win. I've been winning in the past, always, in the junior categories. Not all the races, but all the races I was fighting for podiums or wins. It took a lot of time to realise that in Formula One it's completely different and I made some mistakes – as you know – just because of that. Just because I didn't accept that I cannot win sometimes. I was doing more than is possible and sometimes I made mistakes. When you make a mistake the most important thing is to accept the mistake. I made mistakes but at the same time I won races, so it's important to value the driver very well.
I am living a tough experience but it is part of life. I am learning a lot and I am 100% sure that when I have the car I will be there immediately. It will be automatic because I am feeling good.
Do you feel like you get an unfair reputation for those mistakes?
It's not reputation, there are many things behind this. It takes a long time to explain what is going on. I have been supported by a country, sometimes in Formula One you – not you personally but you as a journalist – don't like the people who are supported, but at the same time you have to look at the past races. I was winning everything, it was not by free that I got the support. I gained the support because I was quick, I won so many races, I am Venezuelan and I'm lucky.
To be honest I'm lucky to have a country behind my back pushing very hard. Sometimes it is tough because we were used to winning all races and Formula One is very different. Sometimes people are complaining and sometimes people are putting more pressure on. I understand that – I want to win – but sometimes we need to understand the situation we are in. Because of that, Venezuelan media … maybe because Venezuela is so important at the moment around the world … we had Mr Chavez as president in the past and he was very popular.
There were some pictures with him and so I became even more popular in the news, just because of a picture with the president. For me it was very important to be recognised by the president of my country, the victories and all my work for the job I did. It was very important, a special time. People said afterwards that 'OK you are the best friend of Chavez, he's giving you the money' – it was not like that. He was the president, he had been doing that with other sports and many Venezuelans. But behind this there is this history and maybe the reputation is coming from that side.
There is not the best political situation in my country as well; some people are pushing and not happy with the sponsorship in Formula One, some people are happy, this is normal. When politics are involved it's normal to criticise. As a result when I do a mistake the impact is very big, but at the same time if I remember when I won a race the impact was more big. For me I'm used to that, for sure sometimes I think 'OK this is unfair', but I get used to that. I'm in the public, I'm a Formula One driver, sometimes you can win, sometimes not. Sometimes you can make mistakes because behind the Formula One driver there is a human. I'm human, I can make mistakes, but for many reasons I'm here. For many reasons I won – not only Formula One but even in the past – and for many reasons life put me here and gave me the chance to drive the most exciting cars in one of the best sports in the world.
You say you want to win again and most drivers dream of a world championship; is that something you can do with Lotus or do you have to progress to maybe one of to teams?
As soon as I came in to Formula One my focus was to win. Going back to something I mentioned before is that I've been – since I started racing go-karts in my country – I have always been fighting for wins. In all races, all championships, I was one of the favourites. Always. Since I became a Formula One driver it was super-hard for me, a big impact to accept that I did not have a chance to win. Not because of my abilities but because of the car, the package…
It was very impacting and still sometimes is because I'm hungry. I want to do my best, I want to put the team at the top. The mission was to go back with Williams to the top and we did it. Now my mission here is to go back again with them to where we were and I think we will reach that.
How long do you feel it will take? You seem teams going up and down in terms of form, but as a apart of this team how do you think it would take to get back to the front?
We'll see, it's difficult to say. Previous years were a very simple situation in Formula One because the engines were very tested, now it depends on many factors, it's not only one. It will be very difficult, very tough, but it will be possible for sure. Hopefully soon.
And what is the biggest thing you've been learning this year?
Part of me is learning how to drive these new cars, new tyres, adapting myself to a different Formula One. I think all the drivers are living the same thing. I'm adapting to the new team, trying to adapt myself even to this new philosophy of work which is a bit different but very logical at the same time and I really like it.
And learning the new people. Every time you are with new people you are always learning. I have very experienced engineers behind me and it's a good team on my side to be honest. Even on the other side, but for sure I spend more time with my people. It's a really good team, the mechanics, even I try to learn – which is very difficult still – all the complex things around the power unit as well just to try and understand the car more. It's not easy, very complicated and tough but we are getting there.