- You must be an expert at coping with jetlag…what are your top tips for travelling? What do you take in your hand luggage to ensure a comfortable journey?
Jetlag is a tough one and definitely an occupational hazard. One trick I’ve learned over the years is to base your meals around the time zone of your destination, so if when you get on the plane it’s the middle of the night where you are but it’s breakfast time where you’re going – try and eat, as for me personally if you get that right it makes it easier to sleep/wake up. I also like to try and do some sort of exercise as soon as possible once off long haul flight.
- You’ve obviously got a taste for speed as an F1 driver – but if you were not one, would you have liked to have been a British Airways pilot?
I’ve been asked the “what else would you have been” question so many times and it’s one I’ve never been able to answer as I’ve been racing since I was 8 years old and not only have I not known anything else I’ve never even thought about it. That said I’d love to have a go at taking off in a plane, that and landing have got to be the fun parts?
- What are your favourite London restaurants to visit and why?
London is one of my favourite places in the world and the food is definitely a part of that. It really depends on what sort of mood I’m in but a handful of favourites that never let me down are The Wolseley – this is the place where I would normally come with family for a meal around Christmas time, it’s such a brilliantly quintessentially British restaurant and the food is incredible. If in the mood for some sushi then Zuma is always a real treat. London also has some incredible pubs, one of my favourite’s is the Walmer Castle in Notting Hill – a great pub and they used to have a fantastic Thai place upstairs, which I was sad to see go. I also need to throw in a place based around a good Sunday roast, which is right up there as one of my favourite meals and that’s Paradise in Kensal Rise, great fun and great food.
- You spend a lot of time flying – what’s your funniest memory from your time in the skies?
I had a funny encounter not that long ago when a lady who was on my flight came up to me a few hours in and said that her sons were fans and would I mind signing something for them. Now I had noticed the lady in question had an American accent so was surprised as, although it’s growing, F1 isn’t as big in America as other countries. As I was signing she followed up with “they’ll be so excited, they’ve got all your albums, when’s the next one due out?” It’s not the first time I’ve been mistaken for the lead singer of Coldplay and when I’d finally convinced her I wasn’t Chris Martin she still looked confused and asked “if you’re not Chris Martin who are you as you seemed happy to give me your autograph?!” – I explained that I’m an F1 driver and she said “well I don’t think my sons watch it but sign them anyway” – brilliant!
- The Bahrain GP has really established itself on the race calendar since its introduction in 2004 – what do you like most about it?
Bahrain is always a great spectacle under the floodlights. There’s a good mix of corners at this circuit and it’s really fun to drive full of high speed sections. It’s always a really great event for the fans and it’s a fun track to race on – I won there in 2009 and I always enjoy driving there.
- Have you ever or would you like to drive across America and if so what route would you take?
I haven’t ever really looked into it. I’ve obviously heard of the famous route 66 but have never been on it. There are some fantastic routes down the west coast of the states that I’d love to drive, or even ride on a Harley. In fact I’d love to cycle some of it as well. I did a half Ironman in a place called Oceanside in San Diego and that was great fun, travelling along coastline is always such a pleasure.
- If you were to explore Europe by road, what are the best countries to take in for incredible views?
I’ve driven a lot of Europe and one route that I love to drive is the South of France to Italy and regularly drive to the race in Monza. Also driving through France to the wine region is a stunning drive. If you head into Italy from Monaco, you have the Stelvio Pass, which is one of the most famous roads in the world.
- Cycling is a huge part of your life – what are your top 5 routes to ride in Europe?
Five is a bit tough as due to time restrictions I’m normally just taking what I can get in terms of training and cycling. There’s a great gang of us in Monaco made up of current and ex drivers and even some pro cyclists who all go out riding together and we usually ride into Italy – stop at a café where coffee is €1 and still some of the nicest coffee you’ll ever have and then ride back. That’s always great fun and a beautiful ride as well.
- What’s the most challenging drive you’ve experienced (off the racetrack) on a road trip? What made it so thrilling?
For my 30th we flew out to Sweden and spent a day out on some ski-doos. Driving across the frozen lakes and through the forests in deep powder snow was pretty challenging but great fun.
- What’s the one gadget that you can’t travel without? Why?
I do love my iPad – great when you’ve got a show that you love and you can relax into your seat and start a new episode. Makes travelling a little easier!
- Where do you go to escape the crowds in your hometown?
Out on my bike up into the mountains, peaceful and beautiful.