Thoughts from Romain, Jules and Davide
GP2 Asia Series: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the first qualifying press conference of the GP2 Asia Series 2011. Joining us tonight are poleman Romain Grosjean for Dams, in second place Jules Bianchi for Lotus ART and in third place Davide Valsecchi at Team AirAsia. Starting with you, Romain, congratulations. First pole position of the year, how does that feel?
Romain Grosjean: It feels really great because we had a difficult time last week during the tests. We went from P1 the first day to P23 on the last day. We had a massive drop, but then the team worked really hard to understand what was wrong. There is a new car a big challenge for this season and we have to understand everything before putting it all together right. I knew my first lap wasn't bad and then I could improve so basically it is great for the team and for me. But the race will be long tomorrow and we don't know how the tyres will behave through the race. So let's see tomorrow what we can do but it is always good to be on pole.
GP2 Asia Series: Like you said, you performed really well during the tests on the long track and then struggled a lot on the smaller configuration. What was the key that made the difference today.
Romain: The engineers did a good job. On the last day of testing we were a bit lost. We didn't understand very well what was wrong, but today we could put everything together. I am sure every team also have the possibility to improve also because we were still on the learning process. I guess our car today was better than the others.
GP2 Asia: And what about tomorrow?
Romain: The key will be consistency. I don't thing the strategy will be that important than it was maybe last year. We are all struggling with the big tyre degradation at the moment so I don't see anybody pitting on lap 2 and then trying to finish the race on the same tyre. We'll go and we will adapt our strategy during the race and then we will try to save the rear tyres as much as we can.
GP2 Asia Series: Well thank you and again congratulations. Jules, you were on par with Romain's pace today but it looked like you push a bit too hard and made a few mistakes. Can you take us through your qualifying session?
Jules Bianchi: We did a good with the team. During the testing we were always consistent between P1 and P5 and then we tried to improve. This morning I wasn't bad, I was P3 and I knew that I had to improve a lot in some parts because I was braking early quite everywhere so... For the qualy I was quite confident but like you said, I made some mistakes. Maybe I pushed too much. The car was good but I hit some traffic every lap on my second set of tyres so it was not easy for me. The last laps was quite good: sector 1 and sector 2 I was a bit slower than Romain. Maybe I could have improved in sector 3... We will never know, but for sure we are fast and we still have to work because during the testing, my driving was not perfect. Still I am quite confident for tomorrow and we will see what will see what will happen.
GP2 Asia Series: Have you already decided on your strategy for tomorrow?
Jules: The strategy will depend on what will happen during the race. We know we have a lot of degradation. It is the same for everybody. We will see what will happen first of all at the start, the first lap and then I don't know...
GP2 Asia Series: Thank you Jules. Congratulations. Davide, P3 is a fantastic result for your team Team AirAsia...
Davide Valsecchi: It was ok, it was ok. It was a really nice feeling. We were competitive, maybe not enough to do pole but anyway we were always in the top 5 from the practice to the qualifying so the team made an incredible job to be immediately competitive. Dams and ART they are always strong so I have to say thanks to my team and also today my car was quite perfect. We were very confident that we could stay in the Top five. Maybe it was not enough to beat Grosjean and Jules but I am really happy with this result today with these fantastic drivers and to fight for the top position tomorrow.
GP2 Asia Series: Do you have any kind of pressure as reigning GP2 Asia Champion?
Romain: I am also champion (Laughs)
GP2 Asia: Yes, but Davide is the reigning one. You were the first one.
Davide: The pressure comes a bit from the team because they want to show that they are competitive from the get go. During the test, it was a bit hard at the beginning but they did an incredible job and we were competitive enough to fight with the other teams. About the pressure, every driver hate it because we want to show our best and stay at the top so I think it is the same for everyone.
GP2 Asia Series: What are your thought about the Pirelli tyres?
Davide: We are good with them. About tomorrow, we focused during the tests to make a performance and I was really focused on qualifying high because with a new team if you qualify tenth you have no chance to reach the top five position during the race. If you start from the top three it helps to fight for the top positions. So I focused a lot during the test about the performance and we forgot a bit about racing situations. So (Laughs) I don't know how the tyres will be during the race (laughs). During the qualifying they were perfect. Tomorrow, we will see!
Roberto Chinchero: Romain, GP2 is your target this year but did you hope to test for Lotus Renault GP following Robert Kubica's unfortunate accident?
Romain: I am ready if they call of course but there is GP2 Asia at the moment and this is where I am. I think Gravity and me we have the target to be in Formula One in 2012. That's the goal so at the moment we go step by step. If they call me of course I will go, but if they have another idea, I am part of the team and I accept it. I will always support the team as I give my support to Robert at the moment.