Ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, we asked for your questions for new Toro Rosso Honda drivers, Alex and Daniil. We picked a handful of the best ones and sat down with the boys to get their answers.
“Yes! It’s great. I’ve said it many times now, but it’s still a great feeling every time I go out on track. It’s enjoyable, it’s cool, and when I was doing my first test in Abu Dhabi at the end of last season it felt like my first test ever, so it was cool.” - Daniil.
“I wonder who you’re a fan of! Yeah there’s been a lot of build-up, it’s good to get it going I guess. I can’t wait. It’s a mixture of excitement and nerves actually, not just excitement.” - Alex
“Well it’s been reliable, which is the thing we really wanted for winter testing, which means we were able to do many laps. The power? It’s too early to judge. I think Melbourne and Bahrain will give a final answer to that.” - Daniil
“It’s an interesting one because actually F1 is a bit different to F2. In F2 you have a lot more alone time to kind of think what you’re doing. Even on a Thursday, in F2 today I would just be going through all the data, getting notes and things ready, but I’ve been in the engineering meeting for probably ten minutes maximum! I listen to music, and I have almost a checklist - like a booklet - with all the lessons learned from the previous session or whatever." - Alex
“It’s the same. I really just work hard to try and improve, which I will. I think it’s a constant evolution, you try to learn something every day and see where it will take you.” - Daniil
“The Toro Rosso people in general give me stick because it’s chicken and rice or chicken and pasta, and vegetables. They don’t understand, we’re not allowed pizzas! They’re on the pizza diet and we’re on the racing diet over here! I don’t actually have like a pre-set meal, but exactly those three things.
“I cheat a lot. I lose weight like crazy during race weekends. Personally I don’t have any appetite during a race weekend, just the nerves and the adrenaline blocks off the hunger. So I’m just trying to eat and get calories where I can.” - Alex
“I think managing the schedule a bit sometimes, especially on a Sunday. In the build-up to a race you just want to be focused, but instead you have to go to different events - take a picture here, take a picture there - and then do the drivers’ parade. You have to manage all these pre-race nerves and the feeling that the race is coming, and still smile - or don’t smile, just be there - and do your thing. Otherwise everything else is a good flow.” - Daniil
“Suzuka. Definitely. It looks really cool. We were in Japan last week, the fans were absolutely mental and they said just wait until you get to the race weekend, so I can only imagine. But fans aside, the track looks incredible. It’s a proper driver’s track as well, there’s no run-off. It looks cool.” - Alex
“I really like the Honda Civic Type R! It looks cool. I would like it if you could get me one! The NSX is cool but it’s a coupe. I like the history of the Civic Type R. It goes back a long way. I remember in the early-2000s having a Civic Type R was like ‘Wow, it’s so cool’. The sound is always really cool, there’s a manual gearbox so you can heel and toe. It would be great to get one at a few of the races.” - Daniil
“Merci! F1 itself is exciting, just the whole show of it is cool, but of course Sunday is the best bit. I just want to get my first race under my belt. I’m hoping for a clean one, but looking at previous races the first few corners can always be a bit tricky! We’ll see. I’ve seen a lot of big lock-ups into Turn 1 in the past - really sketchy stuff - and then you see then come into Turn 3 and they brake like 300m earlier!” - Alex
“We will certainly have a go at it. Like I said, everyone will give their best and we just have to hope that our best will be enough for that, that’s all we can do. If you ask me do I want it? Yeah, of course, but there are other people who want this too, so we have tough competition.” - Daniil
“Grande Luca! It’s nice actually. You kind of feel a little bit more comfortable with it all because I’ve raced with all these guys before and you kind of know them and know what they’re like as a person as well. So it takes the sting off getting into F1 as a rookie.
“It’s quite friendly, we’ll see at the end of the season what happens! We were messaging things like ‘How was it? How’s the high speed? Do you have the same issues getting up to speed?’ And they do. It’s funny to hear it back.” - Alex
“Everyone is still working out their way with the new regulations now. Every year it changes a bit. The Halo came in since I was last here. It’s such a pain to get in and out of the car but it’s proved to be a very good safety factor, so I can’t say anything bad about it other than getting in and out is challenging!” - Daniil
“In all junior formulas it’s a spec engine, so you can kind of say what you want and you’re not giving feedback on it. Here you’re dealing with a manufacturer as well as Toro Rosso so it’s a different work style. The main thing is just purely getting the performance. In F2 for example you’re not talking about drivability or torque delivery. It’s a different side of racing. I enjoy it, it’s nice, and what I’ve realised is just how on top of it the engine guys are. The debriefs are really impressive, you sit back and hear them speak and you’re like ‘Wow, these guys really know what they’re doing’.” - Alex
“It’s controversial isn’t it! I’m neutral towards it. It’s something funny in a way. It’s for friends, that’s all.” - Daniil
“700,000! I can only be so ready after four days, but I feel like I’m as ready as I could be from that.” - Alex
“All the locations we go to are associated with the racing for me, so I am excited to be racing. The moment I step in the airport to go to a race destination is full of excitement. There are some cool places around the calendar like Canada, Singapore, Austin, Tokyo… In Suzuka there’s not much but the track is amazing! All those big cities are really special.” - Daniil
Asked if he had a message for the Honda fans, Alex said “Konnichiwa, err, guys! Thank you for the support! I saw quite a few of you in Tokyo and it was an amazing experience, you’re all very welcoming. I can’t wait to race in Suzuka and see some of you there. Wish us luck!”