EC: I asked David Richards if there could be a possible Aston Martin-badged Formula One effort. Would you personally like to be back in F1 after having had great success in GT, or is LMP1 the mountain you still need to climb?
GHC: I spent time in F1 in the early '90s with Team Lotus soI have been there before. Of course, if a good opportunity arose I would be a fool not to be interested... but maybe after we have won in LMP1 at Le Mans.
EC: Testing at Paul Ricard is one thing, but with the loss of the official Le Mans test usually held weeks before the race, is it a particular hardship for you and the team?
GHC: It's the same for everybody [at Le Mans] and we're confident that we'll be ready come the middle of June.There is still much work to be done.
Tomas Enge: Ascending For Aston
Not many drivers get their start in pro racing in a Ford Fiesta. It's not what comes to mind when watching Tomas Enge aboard an Aston Martin DBR9. The popular Czech driver has broadened his resume from the Indianapolis 500 to the A1GP Series to winning GT1 at Le Mans, but Prodive is where he calls home. Now comes a new car for all the roses at La Sarthe.
EC: You are well known to fans of the ALMS as a fast and calculating driver. Aggressive but clean. A few years ago you had a bad accident and were sidelined for a number of races. On your return you had a series of incidents; in retrospect, do you feel that perhaps you pushed to return too quickly?
TE: Maybe I should have waited a little longer. I was so hungry to get back behind the wheel that I probably over-drove in some situations.
EC: How does the new LMP1 feel to you in racing conditions compared to your experience in A1GP, F3000, or Indy? Open-wheel compared to a pure prototype?
TE: The open-wheel cars are around 300 kilos lighter than the prototypes and the weight makes the biggest difference in handling, acceleration, and braking. The roof on the LMP1 car makes the driving experience more comfortable. The new Aston Martin is a step forward from last year's Charouz LMP1 that the team ran. It feels faster and easier to drive. I have a very good feeling with the new car.
EC: Prodrive has been almost a second home for you. Money isn't everything, so there has to be a good understanding between the engineers, mechanics and managers. How has this worked out for you?
TE: Prodrive is like family, George is like my second father. I've known most of the people on the team since 2002. I like all of the guys on the team, they work hard but they have fun and I really feel a part of the team.
EC: As you have already stood on the top step of the podium at Le Mans in the GT class, what would an overall win in the "big car" class mean for you personally?
TE: After my GT1 win at Le Mans and my fifth GT1 pole position, I said to myself the next goal is to fight for an overall win at Le Mans in LMP1. Thanks to Aston Martin I have the privilege to fight for this. Obviously I know it can take a long time before a new manufacturer/team can reach an outright victory. The competition is very tough in LMP1 but everyone here is doing the maximum to achieve this as soon as possible.
EC: Every driver has a routine preparing for a big race. How does Le Mans compare with, say, a round of the FIA GT or the ALMS? What do you do to be ready physically and mentally and will the move up to LMP1 require anything additional?
TE: For me there's no difference in preparation whether you're in LMP1 or GT1. [The objective] is to win the race in your class. Every battle at Le Mans is hard. Because there's only one Le Mans 24-hour race each year it is very special, and the driver and team are usually preparing for a long time technically, physically, and mentally for this specific race. My personal preparation includes trying to get enough rest and to be physically prepared, especially for the longer races.