Top Three Driver Quotes - Race One GP2 Series: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference for race one here in Magny Cours. Joining us today are race winner Giorgio Pantano from Racing Engineering, in second place we have Lucas di ...
Top Three Driver Quotes - Race One
GP2 Series: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference for race one here in Magny Cours. Joining us today are race winner Giorgio Pantano from Racing Engineering, in second place we have Lucas di Grassi from Campos Grand Prix, and in third we have Pastor Maldonado from Piquet Sports. Starting with you Giorgio, congratulations on your win today. You just can't seem to stop winning here: what is it about this place for you?
Giorgio Pantano: I don't know, probably because we are doing a good job here like all year, like you saw in Turkey, like you saw in Barcelona, also in Monte Carlo where we were fast but had an unlucky weekend. Anyway we are working well, we are working together, me, the team, everybody, and we prepare the car to do the job: that's it.
GP2 Series: At the end of the race it looks like it was an easy win, but clearly it wasn't: you had strong fights with both Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean all the way through the race. How was it fighting with those guys today?
Giorgio: You know, when Bruno stopped it was lap 23 or so, there was still another 18 laps or something to the end, and also Romain, you never know what can happen before the end, and fortunately for me they stopped before the end: when I saw Romain stop I just slowed down and thought I would go easy until the end.
GP2 Series: Talk me through your strategy: you were fighting with Bruno all the way and then you both came in at the same time, but why was that?
Giorgio: My team made the decision to come in on that lap, and we didn't expect to see also Bruno come in at the same time, but anyway we were coming in on that lap.
GP2 Series: This result has certainly helped you to stretch out your lead in the championship: how does it feel to be in such a strong position at this stage?
Giorgio: Yes I am, I am in a good position at the moment, but there are still a lot of races to do it in this championship. It's good for me now, and we have to keep doing it.
GP2 Series: It's not a bad position to be in, especially since this is apparently your 100th race at this level, in either GP2 or Formula 3000: can you believe you've done that many races?
Giorgio: No, I didn't know when the guy told me on Thursday I was really surprised at that: I am maybe a bit old to be here now! No, no, I'm joking, but I am trying to win the championship and working hard, and so is the team, so we will see what happens now.
GP2 Series: It's a good way to celebrate your anniversary anyway: congratulations. Lucas, congratulations and welcome back to the series: it's good to see you here again. Is second today a good way to return?
Lucas di Grassi: Definitely! I was expecting a strong comeback, but not as strong as second place. I think from this weekend it is nine months without racing since the last race in 07, and some of these guys have been doing the Asian series and GP2 for a long time, so I was expecting to struggle, and I am struggling a little bit with this new car: it's very different from what I drove last year, and also the way the team works is different from the team I worked with last year, and there is a lot of things that need to fall into place. I think it was the best we could do: Giorgio was very fast in this race, and fast for a lot of the races. I'm back in the series because first Campos asked me to come back, and second because the testing in Formula One is very restricted this year, since 06 it's very restricted, so they think it's best for a driver to keep driving, racing, in whatever is closest to F1: that is GP2. I will keep going on with my tests, I will do the same as planned for me as a test driver there in Formula One by the end of the year. So I think it's a very good thing: I will have much more time in the car, and also in Formula One, so for me it's a very, very good compromise. Regarding the championship it will be a bit difficult: I am just here to race and win races, it will be very difficult to race for the championship because the gap is very big. I'm doing what I can: I'm trying to get Campos the best position I can make.
GP2 Series: You've got let me ask a question sometimes: you've just answered everything I was going to ask!
Lucas: That's good!
GP2 Series: Okay, you tested this car before it was given to the teams, but you didn't drive it again until the recent test at Paul Ricard: how difficult has that been, what has been the hardest part about returning, and what has been the easiest?
Lucas: It's a very different thing: when I tested this car last year the main focus was on the engine for Asia, that was going to be reduced on power, so it was nothing to do with this car because the roll bars and a lot of technical aspects were very different from what there is now, and it was back in October that I tested, so it's a long, long time that I didn't drive a GP2 car. I tested with Campos and I struggled a lot the first day: the technique is very different to drive a GP2 car from an F1 car, the way you handle the tyres and everything is much different. You need to be on that edge for racing and qualifying: it's very different from testing for certain things, and you can see a lot of Formula One drivers who test for a year struggle a little bit in the beginning, and that's one thing that Renault didn't want to happen in case I go back and drive in F1, so that's why they put me in GP2. Even if the car is a bit different it's a way of keeping sharp and on the edge, in case you have to go back to Formula One.
GP2 Series: There are a lot of good drivers here this year: some commentators have suggested that it may actually be the toughest season in the series' history. What were your expectations going up against them here on your return?
Lucas: Look, every year they say the GP2 series is stronger and stronger: I think it was stronger ... I think it has been very, very strong since the beginning, it's just the rookies get experience and then they replace the guys that leave the championship, and every year it gets really strong. And this year it is very strong: you have at least four or five teams fighting for a win, Pantano I think is the first guy that won for the second time, so it is again very, very competitive, as it was last year and the year before. So I don't think the level is much different.
GP2 Series: Thanks, good job today. Pastor, congratulations on getting another podium today: considering everything that happened yesterday and today, are you a little surprised to see yourself up here today?
Pastor Maldonado: Yeah, for us it was difficult and we had a lot of problems with the car at the beginning of practice, and in qualifying too: for today we did a lot of change in the car, just to try, and the car was very strong. We had many problems with the gearbox all the race, and sometimes it was in a good pace, sometimes not: it wasn't constant. But at the end I was very constant, and when I saw Luca in front of me I said okay, I need to stay here to save some points, and after I was pushing as normal and I saw Bruno on the big TV stopped, and I though I've got one position, and then in the end I saw Grosjean and thought, one more. The weekend started very hard for us, and finished really good: tomorrow we will see, it's going to be difficult again but I will do my best to get some more points, and why not the podium again!
GP2 Series: You had a bit of bad luck in the last few rounds: how much of a relief is it to get back on the podium here today and get some good points?
Pastor: Yeah sure, for me and for my team it's very important to get the points. We restarted the championship in Monaco for sure, with the pole position and second place, and now again third place is very important to me, to be very constant in the championship, to stay safe and get a lot of points. And we will see: I am very confident, the team is very competitive and in a good position now, and we will try and catch him [points at Giorgio, laughs]!
GP2 Series: And for tomorrow?
Pastor: Tomorrow is going to be very difficult: today was too hot in the race, incredibly hot inside the car, and tomorrow is going to very different again. I will try and do my best and get some points again, and for sure again the podium: why not!
GP2 Series: Congratulations.