Race one press conference, Barcelona GP2 Series: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference for today's feature race here in Barcelona. Joining us today are race winner Romain Grosjean from Barwa Campos Team, in second place is...
Race one press conference, Barcelona
GP2 Series: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference for today's feature race here in Barcelona. Joining us today are race winner Romain Grosjean from Barwa Campos Team, in second place is teammate Vitaly Petrov, and in third place we have Jerome d'Ambrosio from Dams. Romain, congratulations on a great job today: it looked as though a lot of your victory was set up at the start and into the first couple of corners, so can you talk us through them?
Romain Grosjean: Yes it was one of the keys, although not the only one because the races are long. Every time there is a start, and for 8 months I haven't done any starts so there was a bit of pressure, but we worked quite well and the start was good. I wanted Vitaly to be second, and after the first turn he was, which was for me good points and for the team as well. The start was quite good and in the beginning of the race I was trying to get a cool pace so not to destroy the tyres, and I saw Vitaly behind and we were more or less the same pace: I had to go a bit slowly at the beginning so as to save the tyres. I was surprised to see that no one was following us: they tried to tell me on the radio to slow down, but the radio was not working at all! [laughs] I kept going at my pace and the pitstop was very good, and the strategy was good because we came back and caught Hulkenberg for 2 laps, but he was struggling because his car was not so good, and our car was fantastic today. I have to say a great job from the team today: the testing was not so good a few months ago, but I think we worked very hard with everybody, in Asia I went to see them and tried to analyse, and today the car was just unbelievable! So it was just so great for the team: for us it is the perfect way to start the season, and that's all I have to say!
GP2 Series: You were a little worried about the tyres and strategy yesterday: do you consider that this was the perfect race for what you have today?
Romain: I think we could still improve a little bit in some points: believe me or not the rear tyres were perfect but the fronts were struggling a little bit, so I think everybody was expecting me to kill the tyres, thanks to my reputation! [laughs] I'm blonde but somewhere there is a brain, and I did think about it! [laughs] But no, I think still we can improve the car a little bit. It's good to start the year like this and to know that we can still work with the team, so today the win is very good for everybody but we will still work with the engineers and everybody, and be analysing the race a little bit more and try to see where we can maybe cure the problems we had with the set up: it's good to know that we still are able to improve the car.
GP2 Series: You had a safety car towards the end of the race which is always a bit of a fraught moment, especially after what happened here last year...
Romain: You see! Always! [laughs]
GP2 Series: But it looked like you had a much easier start this time: how was it from inside the car?
Romain: Yeah, the safety car was not very good news, to be honest! I was quite quiet in front with a 3 second lead, and then I saw the safety car, but I knew I had Vitaly behind, and he is not so stupid, you know? [laughs] I know we are teammates and that we would not crash together, and the restart was good from my side and we didn't try anything stupid: we just had to finish the last 2 laps and again we showed that the car was very good, because in 2 laps we could again make a gap. The safety car was ... well, I'm sure everybody remembers last year, but I didn't do the same: it's important to remember, to keep in mind your mistake, and I knew Vitaly was behind and for the team it was a really good result, so we wouldn't try anything stupid.
GP2 Series: Pole position, race victory and fastest lap: you're more than half the way to a perfect weekend. Any expectations for tomorrow?
Romain: I think tomorrow it is important to take some points, even if it is only one or two: when you see the championship last year where I finished fourth for two points and three points from second then you think what if I didn't do a mistake or something, and sometimes two points is twenty at the end of the season. So I will do my best and we will see after the start where I am and how is the car, and then try to push to get as many points as possible: if I can do some good overtaking I will, and then at the end we will see. But already 13 points is good, and if I can add another one or two then it is really good news.
GP2 Series: Congratulations on a great job today. Vitaly, congratulations to you on a strong second and a good 1-2 for the team. It looked as though you had a nice move on the inside of di Grassi into turn one and two, and then you could sit there and try to put the pressure onto your teammate: is that about how you saw it?
Vitaly Petrov: Yeah, I did very well the start but I had a little problem with the clutch, so I did quite a lot of wheelspin. I didn't want so much to risk in the first corner, but I saw di Grassi and that I could overtake him, so I tried just to brake a little late and see what happens. And it was a good choice! And then I just tried to keep the same rhythm as him [Grosjean] and not kill the tyres so much.
GP2 Series: Do you think you had an opportunity to have a go at Romain, or was it just a case of thinking this is a good result and good points for the start of the season?
Vitaly: In the first part of the first stint I didn't want to push so much: I just wanted to understand the car and if he is quick or not, so I just stayed behind and didn't let him go far away. When I change the rear tyres I knew I could be quick, and I was quicker: every lap I could take maybe three tenths a lap, and just 5 laps before the end I just cooled down a little bit, because it was maybe too risky, too dangerous.
GP2 Series: You were quite worried about the tyres when we were talking yesterday: how were they, and how was the strategy today?
Vitaly: I was really careful all the race: I didn't want to push too much and overheat my tyres too quickly, so I was just waiting carefully and just remembering this and not push too much, and then on the second set I could push maybe a little bit, and I was gaining two seconds I think from him, and then I just kept the rhythm like him. But I was quite surprised that he was finished on the front left, and for me it was more the rear, so I think we have a good car.
GP2 Series: At the restart was it just a case of the team saying 'be calm'?
Vitaly: Yeah, I can attack him but was not really necessary: it was in fact dangerous because I didn't know what problem he has, front tyres, rear tyres. I know my car and where I can lose, and for me it was just a case of not give it to Jerome and let him pass me, and I asked my engineer on the radio where he is quick and he told me yes, I am quick in the first sector, don't worry. So I just take the safety car and the same rhythm, and it was really good.
GP2 Series: Yes, great job today. Jerome, congratulations on your podium today after a bit of bad luck in the Asia series. I'll come to that in a minute, but first talk me through the start. It looked as though you were nowhere, and then all of a sudden you were through di Grassi in turn two: we didn't see it, so how did that happen?
Vitaly: I helped him! [laughs] You must thank me! [laughs]
Jerome d'Ambrosio: Thank you Vitaly! [laughs]
Romain: And I helped you, so you should thank me! [laughs]
Vitaly: Thank you! [laughs]
GP2 Series: You can all thank me if you like! [laughs]
Jerome: Thank you too! [laughs] But no, I had a good start actually, because I overtook Zuber and Hulkenberg at the start, and obviously the guys starting in the front row were further from me but I saw Vitaly was fighting di Grassi, and no one would really give me the way through, so that was good for me. I tried to just take my normal line and get through turn one as quickly as I could, and as I expected no one gave way so di Grassi had to go almost on the grass and that gave me an opportunity to pass him, so that was good!
GP2 Series: After that it looked like you didn't quite have the pace of these guys, but you could easily pull away from the madness that was going on behind you: was it just a case of stay there and see what happens?
Jerome: Well to be honest, yeah: I feel a little like I was stuck in the middle, because you had these two guys who were clearly quicker than us all weekend, and the rest behind me. So I was in the middle there, and clearly I didn't expect them to go at that pace for all the way through: I thought okay, they're pushing a lot now, but they're now saying they weren't pushing a lot! I thought they were being hard on their front tyres and would drop off after six laps, but they were not! [laughs] They never lost anything, and the gap kept on growing all the time, so it's a good first weekend but we still have some work, and it was my objective to be in the top six in qualifying and top three in the race, so at the moment it is good, but we still have to work because the season is long. Some people are having drastic drop off and some people don't, and it will change from circuit to circuit, so it's just a matter of staying cool now and getting the most we can out of this weekend, and keep on working.
GP2 Series: It's a pretty good result for you, and you were clearly very fast in the Asian series but couldn't quite show it in results, even though you were second in the championship! But I imagine you think you should have had better results there: does this help to take a bit of the load off?
Jerome: Well clearly yes: there was clearly more to take in Asia, and the championship starts at the first race and ends on the last one, and Kamui was just stronger than me in Shanghai, and a bit in Dubai. I could catch him because I had three first row starts that I couldn't take, so Dubai just floated, and in Malaysia we had good pace so that gave incentive to the team to come here and do a good job. So now Bahrain and Asia is behind, and we have this in the pocket: we have the championships and everything in the pocket too, and now we have to work double hard to do the same in Europe, because it is harder. But I'm sure we can do it: if we could do it there then we can do it.
GP2 Series: You're probably right, although these guys seem to be pretty quick: what do you think can be done about that?
Jerome: Well I think there is always things to be done about that: one weekend doesn't always look like the other ones. Here they were very strong, but we've beat them in Asia, or at least Vitaly, and I'm sure we can do it again. But we have to work hard to do that.
GP2 Series: Congratulations.