A familiar face to GT paddocks across the globe is at Silverstone this weekend as Mika Salo was a surprise last minute replacement for Kiril Ladygin in the #71 SMP Racing Ferrari 458 Italia.
The ex-Tyrrell, Arrows, Lotus, BAR and Ferrari F1 driver will share with Russian duo Devi Markozov and Victor Schaiter this weekend. We caught up with the Finn in the paddock this afternoon.
Great to see you back in the Blancpain Endurance Series paddock Mika, you must be looking forward to this!
“Yes, it should be good fun. It has been a few months since I raced last time; my last race was in Australia at Bathurst. I did a twelve-hour race but it was the same car (Ferrari 458 Italia) so it should not be a problem and I think we can have a decent shot at a result this weekend.”
What do you know about the team? How did this deal come about?
“I really have no idea why the team changed late. I just had a phone call from Ferrari yesterday and they asked me if I wanted to do this race at Silverstone, and I answered “why not?” I am free and this is my only free week in the whole summer, so why not go racing!”
What do you make of the Blancpain Endurance Series from what you have seen so far?
“I have heard really good things about it and the paddock looks great good. It looks amazing actually with all the cars entered and a lot of really good drivers! I know most of the drivers already anyway and what they are capable of, it should be fun. It is always fun to race with this quality of field.”
Do you enjoy the three-hour format? Or do you prefer the longer races?
“I think three-hour race is fine, it is nice to have a mix, you have longer races with 24 Hours and so much can happen. You need to be always prepared with three-hour GT racing as it is really a sprint race.”
You should have some interesting memories about Silverstone as you have raced here since 1989!
“Yes, I did a race here with the Maserati MC12 and we won that one (in 2009). The only changes for me I think are four new corners because I have never raced on the new track. I may need a few laps to learn it completely again but the rest is still the same, and I can do it with my eyes close….almost!”
The Ferrari won at Monza, it is quick on the straights. Do you have any aims and objectives for yourself this weekend?
“Well, I have to see how we get on during the practice sessions. I did not know my team mates before so we will have work to do. I know one of them drove a Formula 3 car in Finland, he drove fast, and I heard that the other guy is quick also, so it should all have some promise for a decent result.”