Welcome to the press conference for Race 1 in Spa-Francorchamps. Joining us today are race winner Robert Wickens for Status GP, second place man Leonardo Cordiero for MW Arden and third place man Pal Varhaug for Jenzer Motorsport.
GP3 Series: Robert first of all congratulations, that was a crazy race. Talk us through it from your perspective.
Robert Wickens: Yes, it started off as a normal race and I had a good start and was able to get a good gap going into the first corner to keep second placed at bay which was obviously key. Then we had a safety car pretty early on but my restart was strong and I was able to build up a bit of a gap and build enough space between me and second. So everything was going fine, but then we had sudden rain and everything started happening. You could see it coming in the distance but didn't really know what was happening so we just kept going. It wasn't too bad to start with and breaking was okay, but starting the next lap as soon as I crossed the start and finish line I just lost all control of the car. I had no steering and couldn't put any throttle or brake because I was hydroplaning. I was out of control for about four hundred metres. Thank god I was able to keep going and didn't get hit by another spinning car. Then I thought the race was going to be red flagged so we opted to stay out. It wasn't red flagged, but it still worked in our favour and we got the win.
GP3 Series: I suppose the obvious question is why didn't you come in either before you started aquaplaning or after. Did you not feel it was heavy enough?
Robert Wickens: Well its one of those things where it was only raining, as far as I was aware in those two corners so it didn't cross my mind to pit, especially when you are in the lead, you are in a hard situation to decide whether to pit or not you are screwed. But then once everything got under safety car we still opted to stay out because we thought it would be red flagged. In my experience when conditions are deemed unsafe its red flagged. Obviously that didn't happen but I'm still grateful to get the win.
GP3 Series: Obviously it's very strange conditions. You were still on slicks whereas a lot of guys behind you were on wets. Where you happy or did you have trouble keeping up with the safety car?
Robert Wickens: No, I was going as quickly as I could. I was keeping good pace and then when the lights turned off I was keeping the pace. So from that point of view it was fine. I had no problems keeping up, and I was trying as quickly as I could. I actually nearly went of a couple of times trying to keep up so really I couldn't have done much more.
GP3 Series: Despite the hectic race and bad conditions you've managed to keep the championship alive.
Robert Wickens: Yes obviously it's a bitter sweet win. I would've preferred Gutierrez to not have won any points and I have to beat him tomorrow to keep the championship going in to the finale. It's going to be tough and he's going to be starting ahead of me but I will try my best from eight and see what I can do.
GP3 Series: Leonardo talk us through the race from your point of view.
Leonardo Cordiero: Like Wickens said the start was really normal. I made one position into the first corner and then I think six cars went off and I made up a lot f positions and kept out of trouble. I was really lucky. Then I was running P6 just behind Christensen and Da Costa and then when Da Costa tried to overtake Christensen I managed to get past both of them so I was running P4. The thing I'm really happy about is that it's my first time in Spa and my pace has been really good in the dry here. My breaking points were actually from a simulator. Then I made a good decision to come in and change to wet tyres. I would like to congratulate my team because they were really quick to change the tyres and I just came at the right time. When I left the pits I overtook six cars on one straight and then I could see Wickens but then the safety car came out so I knew I had to keep in on the track. I'm really happy with the result and my first podium and points.
GP3 Series: Were you aware that he was on slicks and were you thinking that the race would restart?
Leonardo Cordiero: Yes I knew he was on slicks, but once I left the pits there was a lot of water and even with wets my car was moving around a lot so I just thought I should take it easy.
GP3 Series: This is your first time here at this circuit, which is a very challenging circuit. How hard was it for you when the rain was coming down?
Leonardo Cordiero: Not really too bad actually because most of our sessions so far have been in the rain so I was actually thinking I've been quick before so I just need to keep the car on the track and do everything I did in the practice. So I just tried to do my best and the team was really good. I'm really happy.
GP3 Series: Pal congratulations. Tell me how it was for you.
Pal Varhaug: I started 23rd and then there was the safety car and I could see the sky was really dark I decided to just go for it and go and change my tyres to wet. Then I was driving around for two or three more laps and it was still dry so I thought I had made the wrong decision, but my team told me it had started to rain at Eau Rouge thankfully! And then suddenly I was P3. So yeah it was a great race and a good decision to come in.
GP3 Series: So the gamble really paid off. Who's call was that?
Pal Varhaug: It was my call. The team said that I could come in if I wanted so I said yes it looks like rain so we went for it.
GP3 Series: You've obviously had a bit of bad luck this season since your win, so does this make up for it in any way?
Pal Varhaug: Yes it does. Finally I've got a bit of my luck back again. It's been a hell of a season. Not so good, but now I'm starting to be at the top again so it's good.
GP3 Series: Obviously we don't know what's going to happen again tomorrow with the weather, but what are your thoughts for the race?
Pal Varhaug: I'm happy now I'm in the points again and I will start P5 tomorrow so I'm looking forward to it.