Calado, Gutiérrez and Nasr discuss their race
GP2 Series: James, you won Sprint Race in Abu Dhabi but that was a non-championship race. How does it feel to win your maiden GP2 Series race?
James Calado: It was nice, It feels really good. I came to this weekend quite positive and ready to do a good job and qualifying for me was a confidence boost because normally I was always 4-5 of a tenth off. So it was really close. I was upset to be sixth but quite happy. Race 1 as you know was a bit disappointing for a lot of reasons but then in Race 2 I had a better start and went into the first corner side by side and chose the inside line and just control the race from there really. The tyres degradation was unbelievably high. It was hard to manage the tyres probably but with clean air it’s easier to control especially with the radio and water on board (Laughs). It was fun. I enjoyed every moment. I saw the rain clouds coming over and I was a bit nervous because I’ve never driven the GP2 in the rain. Even so I’m really happy for the team Racing Steps and everyone supporting me this weekend.
GP2 Series: How difficult to keep Esteban at bay?
Calado: I was quite clever I think because I did a big enough gap at the first two laps so he could not overtake. Then I draw back a little bit on purpose so that he could close and when the cars get closer, the one behind looses downforce. And the tyres degrade quicker. And then I slowly pulled away at the end and it was just enough to be one or two tenths quicker a lap and it’s the strangest feeling not being able to push. I’m driving really slow to save the tyres but it worked. It’s the only thing you can do to be able to finish in the end. But the car was great today and I could not complain with the balance, It was lovely. It’s always nice to have a good car. It gives you some confidence boost. I’m over the moon happy.
GP2 Series: Next step, Bahrain. What are your expectations?
Calado: It’s just important to finish. I mean you have to finish in the points every race. It would be nice to win and get podiums, but if I’m fourth or fifth so what? I’ve scored points and I don’t want to take a massive risk. We have a long way to go. But it would be nice to get a similar result and a similar amount of points...
GP2 Series: Esteban, from P15 on the feature race grid to P2 today. That must be quite satisfying...
Esteban Gutierrez: It was the key thing of the weekend. The mistake I made in practice cost us a lot. I did not know the track and I could not know it after my mistake. And after in qualifying I went in learning the track and it affected me a lot. In the race I made a good start and I managed to gain a lot of positions and after that I had the pace to overtake some cars and we finished P7 which was positive. In the end today, we knew that the most delicate thing was going to be the tyres especially with a hot track. It was 52 degrees compared to 42 yesterday... My shot was at the start. I tried to be in front at the first corner. I was close to do it but in the end James did a good start and mine was not good enough to be in front and after that I tried to manage my tyres and finish the race. He did a great job and I congratulate. It’s a good result for the team.
GP2 Series: You had a good race pace yesterday and today. So the key for the rest of the season is to qualify better correct?
Gutierrez: The key point is not to make the kind of mistake I did in free practice. I have to be able to do it whole correctly not only for me to learn the track but also for the team to find the right set up for the car. Also to minimise the little details that make me lose time during the race like the mistake at did at the pit entry yesterday and the exit as well. I have to try and be consistent like we were this weekend to progress and get better.
GP2 Series: In GP2 every point counts. What’s your objective for this championship?
Gutierrez: I think it’s a bit too early to talk about that yet. Obviously everyone is trying to push. I feel very happy because right now I have a strong teammate and it’s positive because we don’t want to fight only for the drivers’ title but also for the teams’ too. And this kind if result is great. We can push each other in the right direction. I am quite happy for James and the team. We’re going to be strong. It’s going to be a challenge and it is was we like in this end. We like to compete!
GP2 Series: Felipe, first GP race weekend and first podium. How does that sound?
Felipe Nasr: It feels really good. I was not expecting much this weekend so I need to be happy for that. It’s a great result for me. My first points in GP2 and today I think the big reward was getting on the podium in my second ever race of the season. There is a lot more work to do but all in all we did a great job. GP2 is not easy for a rookie and to be in the podium straight away reflects our job.
GP2 Series: You had an awesome start today. How was it from the car?
Nasr: It was really exciting but that’s racing. In the end, if you don’t take risks, you don’t gain places. But I was quite confident and it worked well. I had a bit of fight with Coletti during the first lap but then I think he overshoot the corner. When I got third it was all about staying in control and saving the tyres. I think I did it quite well. I was a bit surprised I have to say. I was happy with how the car behaved. I took care of the tyres well.
GP2 Series: You seemed to be struggling a bit during pre-season testing. How can you explain that you are now so much more comfortable and able to fight for a podium?
Nasr: Well in Jerez, it was my first ever time in the car and I did not know the track either. Everything was new: the tyres, the team... It takes time to understand the way I drive. It’s a good combination. It took a while to make the balance happened but in the en on the last day we finished tenth, half of a second off. It was not too bad. I knew I had the potential. But when we arrived in Barcelona, we could not find the balance of the car. But in race simulations we were strong. So I knew we could be competitive. It was all about being well placed in qualifying which happened on Friday.
GP2 Series: What’s the next step?
Nasr: There’s still a lot of work to do. I mean the most important is to keep scoring points. The aim for the year is to finish as best rookie and why not add a few more podiums.