GP2 Asia Series: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference for qualifying here in Bahrain. Joining us tomorrow's poleman Nico Hulkenberg from ART Grand Prix, in second place we have Jerome d'Ambrosio from Dams and in third place we...
GP2 Asia Series: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference for qualifying here in Bahrain. Joining us tomorrow's poleman Nico Hulkenberg from ART Grand Prix, in second place we have Jerome d'Ambrosio from Dams and in third place we have the current leader of the championship Kamui Kobayashi also from Dams. Congratulations gentlemen. Starting with you Nico, observers knew you could be fast, they knew you could do something great here in Bahrain, and you managed to secure pole on your first GP2 qualifying session. What is your secret?
Nico Hulkenberg: I don't have one. To be honest, I am also quite surprised. We knew we could be fast, but to be on pole position now is an amazing result for me and the team. In Free Practice, we were already fast, but we were still quite far away from Kamui. It's the first time for me in this car and on this track configuration. I had to learn. In qualifying, everything went well and that's it basically.
GP2 Asia Series: Do you think that the fact that you know ART so well helps you be competitive from the word go?
Nico: I think it's definitely a good thing because the ART team in GP2 works exactly like the ART team I was in before. I stayed in their family: I have been warmly welcomed when I arrived in GP2. I think it is important to feel comfortable in your team if you want to be successful. I feel very well with them and I guess you could say it is part of the reason we were successful today.
GP2 Asia Series: For tomorrow, even though you are used to start from pole position, will you still feel extra pressure?
Nico: It will be a delicate situation for sure because it will be the first start that I make with this type of hand clutch. And I don't know what I can expect for the race: it is long and there is a pit stop. I have done pit stops before, but it was a long time ago... So, it will be quite new, but we'll try to manage the best we can and hopefully we can keep up and end on the podium, on the first step if possible, but we'll see what happens tomorrow.
GP2 Asia Series: What can you tell us about the track conditions?
Nico: Surprisingly, when we were walking around the track yesterday, they were cleaning it all day. There is no sand on the track, no dust. The conditions were pretty good. From this morning until now, the track conditions have been quite good.
GP2 Asia Series: Thank you Nico and again congratulations. Jerome, what a last lap! Until the last third of the session, you were nowhere near the Top 10. Were you worried?
Jerome d'Ambrosio: No, not really. We lost a little bit of time at the beginning when the Durango car went off track. We had to wait, but I wasn't worried because I knew I still had plenty of time to make the lap that would allow me to start in a good position for tomorrow.
GP2 Asia Series: In your last lap, you had an amazing 1st sector, a really strong 2nd one and a slower 3rd sector. Was there traffic?
Jerome: No... It's just that I was a bit slow in the 3rd one. I pushed really hard at the beginning of the lap and then, I'm not sure what happened exactly. I have to see the data in order to see where I may have made a small mistake in that last sector. I have probably made a small one.
GP2 Asia Series: What is the secret of Dams? What is the ingredient that actually makes the cars go so fast so far this season?
Jerome: I think it's the continuity. Together with Kamui, we have been driving for Dams since the opening of the GP2 Asia Series in January 2008. We are good friends also off track meaning that we are able to work even better on track. Also, Dams have put together a great group of dedicated people: they have worked really hard to provide us with a great car and it is now up to us to transform all that great work into great results.
GP2 Asia Series: Starting from the front row tomorrow... What are you expecting?
Jerome: I think I am pretty strong during races. I had a great pace in Dubai. So, I expect to fight for the podium if not the win. I think we can be really strong tomorrow.
GP2 Asia Series: Thank you. Kamui, P3? You felt fed up with sitting in the middle chair during the press conference?
Kamui Kobayashi: [laughs] Yeah...
GP2 Asia Series: Tell us how this session went for you
Kamui: I think in the second part of the session, I made some mistakes and nothing went exactly as we planned. On my second set of tyres, I got stuck in traffic... All in all, I could not do the perfect lap. But you know, 3rd is still fine: my goal is to win the championship so, the most important is to score big points tomorrow in order to keep the lead and put some distance with the rest of the pack.
GP2 Asia Series: You went out on the track pretty late during the session was it because of the incident involving Della Stelle or was it your strategy all along?
Kamui: No, that wasn't a strategy. But, I think by the end of the day, this turned out to be a good thing because there was a lot of traffic at the beginning and we stayed in the pits. That's why we waited. I think we needed more laps though to get pole because compared to this morning, I made less laps and it was more difficult to put everything together in order to get the perfect lap. I think that I could have clocked a better laptime. This is qualifying... I could have gotten stuck in traffic, so I don't want to say that I am 100% sure that I could have gotten pole today, but I know for a fact that I have the car to go quicker and maybe get pole...
GP2 Asia Series: Two years ago, you were in the same team as Nico and you will start right behind him tomorrow. You know his moves. Is that an advantage?
Kamui: Ah... [Laughs] You know, the situation is different: we have different cars now. We may know each other pretty well, but it's a different story. I will do what I know and I will not plan on a different tactic just because it is Nico in front of me or Jerome. We will see what happens.