Hungaroring: Qualifying press conference

Bird, Valsecchi and Turvey discuss the session GP2 Series: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference for this afternoon's qualifying session here in Budapest. Joining us today are poleman Sam Bird from ART, with Oliver Turvey from ...

Bird, Valsecchi and Turvey discuss the session

GP2 Series: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference for this afternoon's qualifying session here in Budapest. Joining us today are poleman Sam Bird from ART, with Oliver Turvey from iSport in third and hopefully his teammate Davide Valsecchi to join us second from second place. Starting with you Sam, congratulations on your first GP2 pole position: how does it feel?

Sam Bird: Yeah, I'm really pleased. It's my first visit to Hungary actually, I've never been here before, and I've really gelled with the track: it's really, really awesome to drive, nice and flowing, although very difficult. You've got to get everything right as all of the corners lead on to the next one, so if you get the first one wrong, you get the second one wrong. I had to make sure I got everything correct, and it's very difficult as well with all of the traffic here, so thankfully when I got a clear lap I was able to mainly put it all together! [laughs]

GP2 Series: As you say, traffic is always an issue here: how hard is it to get a clean lap?

Sam: It proved really difficult today: it took until my last push lap to get pole position, although I think I could have done it quite a few times if I hadn't had traffic, as I felt really confident with the car today, but it wasn't to be, because of all the traffic on the earlier laps.

GP2 Series: It was very, very close today, with 20 guys within a second: how hard is it to make the difference when the field is this tight?

Sam: It just proves how tough GP2 is this year, the fact that it's so close. We're all at 100% of our capabilities and pushing as hard as we can, and it all comes down to the top 20 being within a second: it's a credit to GP2, to the GP2 teams and the drivers to be so close. It's going to make for a hard, interesting race tomorrow.

GP2 Series: You got pole at the last minute, although there was a little controversial: talk us through the lap, and in particular the final sector.

Sam: It was a great lap, I think: I was quite happy with my driving, and for me there wasn't too much controversy. I slowed down, like I was supposed to under the yellow flag [at the final corner], I lost between 10 and 12 kilometres an hour and I could have gone quite a bit quicker if I hadn't had this yellow flag. Obviously it didn't look that good on TV because I still improved my sector, but the rest of the lap was so much better than anything I'd done before that I could still get pole, even with not doing a very good last corner.

GP2 Series: You got the job done, and you start from P1 tomorrow: what are your expectations?

Sam: My expectations? The obvious job to do is to try and win the race, and the main job it to try and get to the first corner first, and then we take it from there. I think our race car is better here than our qualy car, which is quite encouraging, and my race pace has generally been better than my qualy pace this year, so if that's anything to go by then I think we're in a good position.

GP2 Series: Congratulations. Oliver, I'll come to you next, congratulations on P3 which was so nearly more: how are you feeling about the session today?

Oliver Turvey: Yeah, obviously it was a good session for us, and we had the pole until the last few minutes, but I think we've had a good day: this morning at the start of free practice we were struggling a little bit, but I think we did a really good practice and made a few changes to improve the car, so I was pretty confident going into qualifying. You never really know, because the track develops, the new tyres and everything, but I felt pretty confident with the car and on my second set I managed to do a good lap: it wasn't perfect, and I could have found a little time in myself and we probably could have found a little in the car, but I'm pretty pleased with where we are, and to be fighting for the pole.

GP2 Series: You say you could have been a bit quicker in general: do you think there was anything left on the last lap?

Oliver: Yeah, definitely. I set my best lap on the first timed lap, and the car got stronger as the run progressed, but there were yellow flags at last corner, and I had a yellow at the first turn where I had to lift, so I only got one clear lap on the second run really, and with one more clear lap I think we would have gone quicker.

GP2 Series: Nevertheless P3 is a good place to start, particularly here where the clean side of the track makes such a difference...

Oliver: Exactly. I'm on the clean side of the grid, and there's a long run to the first corner, so I think whoever gets the best start will probably take the lead at the first turn. We'll see tomorrow: it's a long race and there are a lot of quick drivers, but I'm pretty confident that we can win the race tomorrow.

GP2 Series: Congratulations. Davide, thanks for joining us! [laughs] P2 today: happy with your job in qualifying?

Davide Valsecchi: Yeah for sure: I was really confident because the car was really fast, and it was really competitive in qualifying, and also in free practice it was too and for me it was fifth, a bit far from the top. In qualifying we change the car a bit and we were really competitive from the beginning: on the first set we were there, first or second, and I think we could have had the pole but I made a little mistake, and anyway Bird was a bit better, but we will see tomorrow.

GP2 Series: You got P2 on the very last lap as the clock ran out: was this your best lap?

Davide: On my best lap on the second set we had traffic in the second sector, I did my best first sector and it was purple [on the timing screens] and best of everyone, but we missed it. After this I cooled down and then pushed for another one and made 28.0, two tenths out, but in the last sector there was yellow flags, so it was a bit critical for everyone. In the end I improved one or two tenths, and it was enough to put me in second position, so it was better to have pole but we missed it by almost nothing, and it means we will be able to fight.

GP2 Series: With iSport in P2 and P3, which I think is your best qualifying performance of the year after a bit of a struggle, does this mean you're back on the pace as a team in qualy now?

Davide: I hope so! [laughs] We are performing here, and we have to check tomorrow because every time it's another day and a completely different situation and so we're not sure that tomorrow we will be so competitive, so anyway we start at the top, we fight with the top drivers, and you really enjoy it when you are there, yeah? Since we improved the qualifying car, I think it's perfect and I hope to confirm it on the next few races, but we will see. I'm confident the car is fast, and I hope tomorrow to fight with the top driver for the top position, and to enjoy it.

-source: gp2

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Series FIA F2
Drivers Sam Bird , Davide Valsecchi , Oliver Turvey