Monaco: Qualifying press conference

Qualifying quotes, Monaco GP2 Series: Romain, the only question I have is what just happened? Romain Grosjean: [laughs] I know! It was a very good session, the first set of tyres I had a good gap in front so I could push hard for some laps,...

Qualifying quotes, Monaco

GP2 Series: Romain, the only question I have is what just happened?

Romain Grosjean: [laughs] I know! It was a very good session, the first set of tyres I had a good gap in front so I could push hard for some laps, and then when I saw 19 [seconds] on the dash board I thought 'well that doesn't work anymore.' [laughs] And then saw on the board 19.8, and I thought 'oh, it does work!' [laughs] Then I saw 19.5 and the car was just very, very good, and we had a good baseline and it seems we can adapt it quite easily from Barcelona to Monaco, which is a good point, and the other good point is that the team is still working very hard: when you win the first race then we could say 'we are ahead, let's stay with what we have', but it is important to just keep working. There are ten meetings in this championship.

GP2 Series: Sessions in Monaco are supposed to be difficult, but you made it look easy today: what made the most difference for you here?

Romain: I think it was not easy inside the car! [laughs] You need get a good, clear lap, which is difficult, and hopefully the qualifying was a bit better than the free practice, because the free practice was just 15 minutes where I couldn't do anything, so I just went to the pits to wait. Here we had a chance to get a good gap, and it's not easy because Monaco is a difficult race track, but I was very confident with the car, we changed some things at the rear for qualifying and it worked very well, so I'm very happy. Starting on pole in Monaco is always a good point!

GP2 Series: You set the pace for most of the day, and were very quick early on but still came out to set an even faster lap at the end of the session despite having a huge gap: were you worried that someone would catch you?

Romain: When I stopped I was P1 with 1.2 or 1.3 seconds gap, but my engineer Emilio told me I think it's not possible, we cannot have this gap, so we preferred to go again and set some good laps, and we could improve again a bit. We didn't push too hard on the tyres because the second outing was quite short.

GP2 Series: You were just over a second off the Force India cars afterwards, so that worked! What do you think this says about the race tomorrow?

Romain: I don't know: for sure winning Monaco is a good thing, but also it's a race and is just 10 points to take. We know that here overtaking is not possible, so let's say we have a good start and Vitaly is behind me then we can go like this and protect each other, which is very good for the team and for me.

GP2 Series: Vitaly, congratulations on a great job today, especially that last lap. Your teammate was a very long way ahead before that lap: did you think you had a chance of catching him, or was it all about getting on the front row?

Vitaly Petrov: It is difficult to say! In the beginning I was not quick like him, because I didn't want to risk: for the last two years I crashed, and I didn't want to do this again! [laughs] On the last run I went each time quicker and quicker, and then on the last lap it was even quicker but then someone had a problem on the first corner so we had to stop. Without that I think I would be close to him, but I'm not sure if I could have beat him.

GP2 Series: It was a striking difference between your two runs: was there a difference in anything that made you so much faster on the second set of tyres?

Vitaly: No, my engineer just said 'you have just one lap, so get ready', and I tried to take a gap in front of me and to warm up my tyres and then push one time, and it was good. If you see my last sector and the last two corners, there was a guy in front and I was touching him with my front wing! He was slow, and I knew it was my fastest lap, so we were finished like this [touches hands together], because my mechanics told me they saw it! [laughs] He was very slow, and preparing for a [fast] lap, I think.

GP2 Series: It worked: I guess after your last time here if someone said you could have a front row start, you'd have jumped at it...

Vitaly: Yeah! Of course it's better to be in P2 than P4 or whatever, and it gives an advantage for tomorrow, especially in Monaco. It will difficult tomorrow, especially at the start: the start can change a lot of things, and then tactics makes a big difference. And then it depends how good our car is compared to the other guys, and when we stop.

GP2 Series: I expect if before today if someone had offered you a top three qualifying session you'd have been all over it: how does it feel to have actually achieved that?

Nico Hulkenberg: Indeed, I would have been very happy! It feels good: to be honest, I didn't really expect it after free practice because I was only P14 and struggling to get any confidence with the car and on the track, but we made a good improvement. And then my last lap made me P3!

GP2 Series: It was an incredible lap, under time pressure and also while everyone at the sharp end was improving their times too: talk me through how you managed to do that.

Nico: I know everybody is crying about traffic here, but honestly I couldn't even do one good lap before: there was always something! So the pressure was on, but I had a good gap from the car in front, and I just did a nice, tidy, smooth lap, pretty much at the limit but without any mistakes. That's it! [laughs]

GP2 Series: Your teammate is a bit of a Monaco master and is always fast here: did that take pressure away because people were looking in his direction, and did it help to have someone with his experience here?

Nico: For sure we work well together, trying to improve and working on the data together, but that doesn't put any more or less pressure on myself: it's not only him that I want and need to beat, it's a lot of guys!

GP2 Series: The Addax guys are the team to beat so far, and you're in the prime seat for that now: what do you think will happen tomorrow?

Nico: I don't know if I'm in the prime seat: it's only the second weekend of the year so it might be a bit early to say that, but we are definitely trying to give them a challenge and some headaches, but I think we still need to improve a little bit to get to their level. They have two very experienced drivers and I'm still a rookie, so we need to work a little harder because I am always a step behind. We need to work a little better and quicker to get on their level, which is not easy at the moment. For tomorrow I just want to get away from the start and through the first lap, and try to keep position and if there is a possibility to get more than that, I'll do it. But I want to finish the race.

-credit: gp2

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About this article
Series FIA F2
Drivers Vitaly Petrov , Nico Hulkenberg , Romain Grosjean
Teams Force India