Feature Race Press Conference, Qatar
GP2 Asia Series: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference for Race 1 here in Qatar. Joining us race winner Nico Hulkenberg from ART Grand Prix, in second place we have Sergio Perez from Barwa International Campos Team and in third place we have his teammate Vitaly Petrov. Congratulations gentlemen. Starting with you Nico, this must be an incredible feeling, winning the first GP2 night race.
Nico Hulkenberg: For sure! Winning always feels great. This is only my second race weekend in GP2 Asia. It's not bad I think. It was quite a great race for me...
GP2 Asia Series: Talking about the start, obviously we all know what unfortunately happened to your teammate, Sakon Yamamoto. So, we were all focused on that incident and when we looked up at the screen again, we saw that Sergio was ahead of you. What happened?
Nico: Oh, he just got a better start than me and he got in front!
GP2 Asia Series: You were the only one of the big players to pit in the very last stages of the race. Was it the strategy you planned before the race?
Nico: To be honest, I was also a bit confused with what was going on because the radio communications with my team was very bad. I kept asking them but I didn't get a clear answer because the transmission was very bad. So I trusted them. They said "stay out on the circuit and push as hard as you can". That's what I did. We came to the pitstop and we had a great one. It was five laps before the end I think. From there on it was done.
GP2 Asia Series: So far, you've had the perfect weekend: pole, win and bonus point for fastest laptime since Alvaro Parente failed to finish in the Top 10. That's 13 points overall. What are your goals not only for tomorrow's race, but also for the championship?
Nico: I think there's only tomorrow left because I think I'm not going to do the remaining rounds. Pastor Maldonado will be replacing me. I'm only doing Bahrain and Qatar. So my expectations for tomorrow, we'll see. There are no pitstops. But it's still a long race, forty minutes. But our pace was quite good tonight and I hope we can score some more points.
GP2 Asia Series: Thank you Nico and again congratulations. Sergio, you are unstoppable! You had a great start as per Nico mentioned. After your pitstop, though, you rejoined behind your teammate Petrov who had already pitted. That must have surprised you...
Sergio Perez: Yeah. I was very confused as well. I didn't know what was going on. I thought he hadn't done his pitstop when he came in front of me. And the radio communication was really bad. Our pitstop was quite slow... We had a problem with the rear tyre. But after that, I didn't know what was going on. I was P5 behind Vitaly. And then I was P2. But I didn't know what was going on with Hulkenberg. I had a good start. I had a good pace at the beginning of the race and when the safety car came in, it was ok. But after the safety car, I was pulling away from Nico, but then they called me in and after that I didn't know what was going on in the race. I just pushed as hard as I could. Then I overtook my teammate and pulled away from him. But then I started to have some problems with the degradation of the tyres. So I lost some time. Vitaly caught me in the end, but I didn't make any mistake.
GP2 Asia Series: Did the incident at the start have an impact on the strategy you had planned before the race?
Sergio: No. It didn't change at all. To be honest, it didn't change anything.
GP2 Asia Series: This weekend, Dams has been less competitive than usual. Campos is catching up in the teams' championship. Is that one of your goal?
Sergio: It would be really good to win the championship for the team. I don't know how far we are, but we need to keep on scoring points as much as we can and close the gap even more. At the moment, I'm not thinking about the drivers' championship because I'm still quite far from Kobayashi. But I'm still a rookie coming from F3. This is only my fourth weekend in GP2. I am pleased with my results so far. I'm learning a lot and I'm getting familiar with the Series. And I want to achieve more wins and hopefully tomorrow, we can be on the podium again. It's really difficult to overtake, but we will try.
GP2 Asia Series: Thank you Sergio. Vitaly, yesterday we saw you quite upset here in the press room after qualifying. Now you are actually smiling. Does that mean you are happy with today's result?
Vitaly Petrov: Almost [laughs]
GP2 Asia Series: How did your race go?
Vitaly: I had a bad start. Actually I was quicker than Sergio and Hulkenberg on the first part of the race, before the pitstop. But, also I killed my front tyres and I had to pit very early. And when I rejoined, after three laps, I killed again my front tyres. So I had to cool down and just wait and not push too hard, but not go too slow... So when I saw Sergio behind me, I knew he was on fresh tyres and I didn't want to close my line, so I let him overtake me. And then, I slowed down to cool down the tyres. After that, I was much quicker than him, but it was difficult to overtake on this track.
GP2 Asia Series: You had a really good pace on this track. You will start from seventh tomorrow. Aiming at the podium again?
Vitaly: Tomorrow, I will try to make a good start and hope I will manage [laughs]. It's very difficult to overtake and here it's very important to not go super quick. You need to find the right pace and maybe wait for the guy in front of you to make a mistake because it's very difficult: there's only one long straight here. So, I'm hoping for another good result.