Asia: Abu Dhabi: Qualifying press conference

GP2 Series: Davide, congratulations on your first pole position today. You just wouldn't let anyone else be on pole today would you? Davide Valsecchi: It's been an unbelievable day! I felt really strong and confident with iSport. They are a...

GP2 Series: Davide, congratulations on your first pole position today. You just wouldn't let anyone else be on pole today would you?

Davide Valsecchi: It's been an unbelievable day! I felt really strong and confident with iSport. They are a really great team. The car is right for me and the team loves me at the moment (Laughs)! Also, last week during the tests, I found immediately the pace. We were strong right at the beginning. I think the work we did together during these two days helps us be prepared for the race tomorrow, whatever the track conditions. This pole position is a good step in the right direction.

GP2 Series: you set the fastest laptime today in the very early stages of the session...

Davide: Yes. I think I could have improved after that, but I was stuck in traffic. I didn't have the chance to improve although I was quickest in the two first sectors. But, we were competitive from the very start of the session and that gives us an advantage. That way, you don't have to spend the whole session thinking that the time is running out and you just have to improve or else you will start at the back of the grid. Today, I wasn't stressed. We were immediately strong and I was confident. It really helps...

GP2 Series: Did the track conditions changed a lot from this morning?

Davide: This morning the track was very slippery. That's why I was so quick (Laughs). But after us, Formula 1 cars had a practice and the track conditions changed a lot for us, with a lot more grip. It felt like a new track! Anyway, with the first set of tyres, we were three tenths quicker than the others. We knew that if we could improve on the second set of tyres, we could keep the pole position. But then I was stuck in traffic, and then there were some yellow flags... In the end, it was enough to stay on top.

GP2 Series: What will be the key for tomorrow?

Davide: The start is not my specialty lately. I mean it was before, you know, last GP2 Asia Series. I had some of the best starts of my career. I was always gaining positions. But after, in Main Series, I had so many problems at the beginning of the season. I lost my confidence... I will try my best tomorrow and lead the race after the first corner. So far, I'm lucky to be first on the grid.

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GP2 Series: Congratulations Sam on this great performance. What's your secret?

Sam Bird: Firstly I would like to thank ART for giving me a fantastic car. They did a super job and they gave me a car I really like driving. I'm a privileged young man to be here. Not everybody gets this opportunity. I'm really, really happy.

GP2 Series: You seemed to be a bit off the pace during the first half of the session...

Sam: The first half of the session was not spectacular. I had a brake bias, but once that was adjusted, the car was quite strong. I knew I had a chance to do a better laptime on my second set of tyres. I managed to put a reasonable lap together. I never did a lap in qualifying when I thought "That's the best I can do". So there is obviously more to come from myself. I'm still learning. I'm still very new to GP2. Hopefully, I will improve again. This is not the end result. But it's a good pace to start.

GP2 Series: How are you anticipating the pistop tomorrow?

Sam: (Laughs) Well...I've done a lot of practice over the two-day session we had here last week, coming in and out of the pitlane, pushing on the outlaps and also the pitstop itself. It should run smoothly... but (Laughs). It's racing, so anything could happen. But I'm sure if I just keep focused and keep my head on my shoulders and don't do anything drastically wrong then let's just hope that I can finish in a good position tomorrow.

GP2 Series: What about the start? The grid will see Valsecchi on pole, then two rookies, then Filippi...

Sam: (Laughs) Well, I've never raced with any of these guys. All of them are top, top drivers. I've got to give them all a lot of respect. Having said that, I want to get to the first corner first. I want to get a very good start and lead this race and control it with my speed. I'm not worrying about people behind me. I'm going to the first corner wanting to lead the race, not looking into my mirrors. This first corner is quite tricky: it is medium speed but at the same time you want to carry a lot of minimum speed into it to get a good exit as it is uphill leading into two flat out corners. It's an important corner.

GP2 Series: Should you miss the opportunity to lead the race after the first corner, where can you make do?

Sam: Well, we just spoke about pistop and there's an opportunity, but it's not the only one here. There is a long, long straight. The back straight is awfully long. So if you can follow someone and outbreak them going into Turn 9, that's a possible opportunity, but then there is nowhere in Sector 3. We'll have to wait and see. I'm really excited at the moment. I need to calm down a little bit, chill out... I'm a very lucky boy to be here!

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GP2 Asia Series: Fabio, you had an excellent day today. How did the qualifying session go for you?

Fabio Leimer: I'm really happy because I never thought we could achieve such a great result so soon. I thought if everything went well we could aim at the Top five because I thought more experienced drivers would be faster than us. At the end, when I heard that I was P3, I was very happy! We had a pretty could car. But It was more difficult this morning because the track was very slippery. We had already a pretty could set-up and I believe that it will be also quite competitive for the race. I'm really happy!

GP2 Asia Series: You seemed to be very comfortable on this track. Do you think it suits your driving style?

Fabio: It's a very nice track. We could compare it to Valencia although the Spanish track is much faster, but half of Yas Marina has the feel of an urban track. The other half feels more like a normal track. It's not easy to drive here because you have fast corners and a lot of slow corners: you have to find the right set up and see where you can improve your laptime.

GP2 Asia Series: This must be quite a satisfying GP2 debut...

Fabio: Actually I never thought it would be so good! I was already competitive in Jerez when we tested there two or three weeks ago. I was fourth quickest -- not the best rookie, but still competitive. At the moment I'm very happy that it works so well.

GP2 Asia Series: Do you feel some kind of pressure?

Fabio: There's always a little bit of pressure. It's not the first time that I will be driving in front of the F1 paddock, but it will be the first time that I will be having a pitstop during the race. The pitlane exit is also very tricky here. We will see... Also, I practiced the start twice and it didn't go so well. So, I need to see the data from Alvaro Parente to see how he using the tyres during the race, but I think I just need to drive and that's it. If you overthink it, you put yourself in danger...

GP2 Series: What are your expectations for tomorrow?

Fabio: Valsecchi is looking really strong right now. For me, I want to go on the podium. I really think it is within my grasp. I need a good start and then keep focused all race long. The first thing I want to do is to finish on the podium. And then, when that's done, I will be able to look for a win. But first thing, a podium would be really good.

-credit: gp2

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About this article
Series FIA F2
Drivers Alvaro Parente , Sam Bird , Davide Valsecchi , Fabio Leimer