Paris (AFP)

As the IndyCar season begins on Saturday almost three months late, Coronavirus forces, Simon Pagenaud assures AFP that it will be "fresher" than ever and focused on its objective of "winning" the 500 Miles of Indianapolis on August 23.

Q: How do you feel after this forced break?

A: "Much cooler because there was so much time I could rest, focus a lot more on myself because there was no trip. (...) I had time to really motivate myself for the season. I feel ready as if I really had time to work on an exam. "

Q: How did you manage?

A: "I was well organized, I'm pretty proud of myself! When the first race was canceled, I said to myself: if it is canceled, we will surely end up being confined to our home, so I am Immediately went to a sports store to equip myself. I organized a room at home and it is not worse, because it allowed me to be much more efficient in terms of time. fell into a routine that I liked. From 9 am to noon, physical preparation with my trainer by Facetime (video call, editor's note), between noon and 3 pm, I took care of everything that is communication, marketing and response to media, and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. I did the simulator. On the days I didn't do it, I did everything I wanted to do around the house. I managed to stay very busy. "

Q: Won't this routine be complicated?

A: "I manage to + transition + so I don't care. And I think I did everything I had to do at home, so I'm ready to go again!"

Q: Has this hiatus changed your goals this season?

A: "Not at all. My number one goal is to win the Indianapolis 500 Miles, to relive moments like those I experienced in 2019. Replicating a victory is impossible, but trying to to do it again, surely differently, that's another story. I worked a lot on that, on myself, tried to work on the concentration again, always going further. And obviously the championship comes second for me. this weekend and my motivation is really increased. We waited for this moment like children who are waiting for Christmas, so I think we're all in the starting blocks. I feel ready, I have the experience plus today is a big advantage. "

Q: Will running without spectators make a difference?

A: "It is above all the before and after when you can nourish yourself with this energy. I am someone who is fairly spiritual and I need the energy of the people around me to transcend me. a little more. Unfortunately, that will not be the case, but we have to deal with it. We are still lucky to be able to play our sport and have the opportunity to distract people. It will be very different but it's a lot of positive to restart. "

Q: Ferrari says it is interested in IndyCar. This is good news, isn't it?

A: "Ferrari and racing are synonymous. Red cars, we all know what it means. It's the oldest stable in F1, which has been there since the start of the Grand Prix. Obviously, "It would be great to see the horse prancing up in IndyCar racing. I speak as a motorsport enthusiast. Racing with Ferrari is even more beautiful."

Q: We will also see you at the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 13 and 14 ...

Q: "It's my return to Le Mans, finally (after four participations between 2008 and 2011, note)! We are coming to support the new regulations on which the ACO (which organizes the endurance world championship, note) and the IMSA (the American endurance championship, editor's note) have worked. We are going to be present, we have no pretensions. I think that we will not really fight for the victory since there will be + sim racers + (virtual pilots, editor's note) professional and they are untouchable. We will do our best to already try to finish the race. "

Q: Is this a step towards your real return to Le Mans?

A: "My participation in virtual Le Mans would certainly not have been possible without these new regulations and this ACO-IMSA relationship, so this is good news. My dream is clear: I wish to return one day to try to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Being French, it's our national pride as well. Now will Penske (his team, editor's note) come? I hope so. I don't know what the future is made of, but that would be a dream for sure. "

Interview by Raphaëlle PELTIER.

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