Qualifying press conference, Barcelona Grosjean, di Grassi and Petrov discuss the session GP2 Series: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the first press conference of the season for qualifying here in Barcelona. Joining us today from...
Qualifying press conference, Barcelona
Grosjean, di Grassi and Petrov discuss the session
GP2 Series: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the first press conference of the season for qualifying here in Barcelona. Joining us today from pole position we have Romain Grosjean from Barwa Campos Team, in second place from Fat Burner Racing Engineering we have Lucas di Grassi, and rounding out the top three is Vitaly Petrov, also from the Barwa Campos Team. Starting with you Romain, congratulations on your second pole position: you must be delighted.
Romain Grosjean: Yes! It's a very good day for the team, for Vitaly, for me, and it's a long time since I've been in qualifying, almost 8 months, so it's good to be back here. In testing we worked quite close with the team, and we had the chance to see each other in the Asia Series, where it was working and where we could improve. Today being on pole is something very good for all of us, especially because it's the first race of the season and so it means that everything goes well between the drivers and the team. I'm very proud to be here: tomorrow is going to be a long race, and I'm really looking forward to it.
GP2 Series: It's the first race weekend for you with a new team, and you didn't compete in the Asia Series: how important was it for you to come here and lay down this marker?
Romain: I think it was important for everybody. When you don't race you have some doubts, and when you don't come you don't know what's going on. But testing was not fantastic, we have to say what it is, but we worked very hard with the team, with Alberto and everybody, and in the end it works because this morning we were fast, and this afternoon we were fast again. I think this is the best way to start the season: we were expecting Lucas to be here and he is here, and it's very good to have Vitaly here too. For the team it is perfect.
GP2 Series: It's a track that everyone knows very well from testing, and you've raced here last year as well: what are you expectations for tomorrow?
Romain: The expectation would be, well, the best thing of course would be to win. Everybody knows that it will be a long race and quite tough, and we have the medium compound here and we know that we will have to be careful. It will be a very long race before the pitstop, or after the pitstop, whatever, and I'm sure Lucas will be here. We will see, but let's work with the team now and set up the car now.
GP2 Series: One last question: with weight being so important here, do you think you could gain an advantage if you only got a haircut? [laughs]
Romain: No comment! [laughs]
GP2 Series: Thanks Romain, and congratulations. Lucas, congratulations on P2 today. 0.021: what were your thoughts when you saw that?
Lucas di Grassi: I didn't know what the time was when I did my fast lap at the end of the session: I knew that I had to improve half a second, or it was not really half a second because I got held up on my fastest lap by Parente in the whole last sector. So I did another good lap, and when I crossed the line I did a 53 on the dash but I didn't know if it was good enough for P1, so I looked at the tower hoping it would switch the 7 and the 2, but it didn't! [laughs] I was second, so I was a bit ... I won't say upset: of course you want to do the pole but the car had good performance, and the only thing that I'm not very happy about this weekend is the amount of traffic we have. I don't know if it's because the tyres are softer and people are getting less laps and it tends to cool down or whatever, but from free practice until now it was difficult to make some clear laps. Sometimes, and not at this stage of the championship although Monaco is the next round and that is a track where we always have problems, but it becomes more of a gamble than actually a performance qualifying: you could have some drivers losing a second a lap because of traffic. I think Romain had traffic on his, I had traffic on both of my laps, and a lot of people are going to complain of it as well. The only thing I can see that I was not happy with: other than that everything went perfect.
GP2 Series: Monaco is a different thing because of what it is, but we always have traffic here: why do you think that is and what, if anything, can you do about it?
Lucas: There are a lot of solutions for that: if you leave it as it is there will be traffic everywhere, I think the more traffic the more people will tend to do more slow laps because the tyres go away quicker, and that's what creates traffic. I don't know what the solution is but it's something that needs to be worked on together with the drivers, maybe in the next driver briefing, because if no one gets their lap without being closed by someone in front then no one will do it for the other guys. We'll see how it goes.
GP2 Series: There have been a lot of people hoping for a front row with you two guys in it: talk me through the first lap tomorrow.
Lucas: There's a long way until the first lap! [laughs] Let's say you go out of the pits, you have the warm up lap, you have the start... Of course everyone wants to win the race, Campos is a great team and I know them well, we had a very successful year together last year, so I know how strong they are: they are going to be strong all season, and you can see that because they have both of their drivers here already. They are going to keep strong all season long, I know how they work, and I'm trying to push even harder than I did last year so that I can beat them this year! I am working together with the team so that the set up goes right, and for the race we have a car that is fast and works consistently throughout all the 39 laps.
GP2 Series: Congratulations Lucas. Vitaly, congratulations to you on third place today: are you happy with your day in the office today?
Vitaly Petrov: I'm quite happy with the car, but I'm not happy with the traffic, like the guys said. When the track was at the best I lost my best lap time on the new tyres and the F1 rubber because of traffic: on my first and second sector I was quicker than Romain and if I finished like that I would be quicker than Romain, but in the last sector I found the traffic.
GP2 Series: Your best lap was quite late in the session: was that all down to the traffic and waiting for a clear lap?
Vitaly: Yes, I was waiting and preparing, not take too much from the tyres, and then I just had to push for one time: this lap was not clear so I lost in the first and second sector a little time like I did before, but I lost the best time on my first lap when the rubber from F1 meant the grip was much better.
GP2 Series: Given that P3 doesn't seem too bad: what are your thoughts on the race tomorrow from there?
Vitaly: Tomorrow we'll see what happens at the start! [looks at Grosjean and di Grassi and laughs] After that it will be really, really tough because it depends on what happens with the tyres: we'll see who is better at keeping the best from their tyres until the end of the race.
GP2 Series: How hard is it to manage the race with the tyres?
Romain: Very simple: the car is fantastic, and there are no problems! [laughs]
Lucas: I think with a softer tyre it's trickier to have a consistent car: maybe you have a slower car in the beginning and have it more consistent, or something else, I don't know, but the strategy will be very critical because you can gain or lose a lot if you miss the strategy. Last year if you missed by five or six laps it didn't make a big difference, but I think the races now will be more like Silverstone last year, when we had the compound change for that race: it became a massive difference between who had tyres in the end and who didn't, as Romain remembers really well! [laughs] I think it's going to be more Silverstone like for the next few races.