Portimao: Race one press conference

GP2 Series: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference for today's feature race here in Portimao. Joining us today are race winner Nico Hulkenberg from ART Grand Prix, in second place we have Luca Filippi from SuperNova International,...

GP2 Series: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference for today's feature race here in Portimao. Joining us today are race winner Nico Hulkenberg from ART Grand Prix, in second place we have Luca Filippi from SuperNova International, and in third place is Lucas di Grassi from Racing Engineering. Starting with you Nico, congratulations on another strong win, which owed a lot to your tactics today: were you surprised at all by Vitaly's pitstop strategy?

Nico Hulkenberg: I think his tactics were pretty normal, I would say: we just pitted a bit earlier because obviously the guys saw Luca being pretty quick on new tyres, because he pitted earlier, so they called me in, a very late call, last minute. We had a spot on stop, a very good outlap, and I have to say again today a very big thank you to ART who gave me a great car again, because I was very quick. Yesterday I was very pissed because I didn't get pole, because I definitely wanted to get it and we were so close, but today the car felt just great from the first lap so, again, a big thank you to them.

GP2 Series: It looked like a great car, and a bit of a surprise that you didn't quite get by him earlier in the race on track: talk us through the start and that first lap.

Nico: I had a very good getaway, but just not good enough to get past Vitaly. Also he defended pretty well I must say: he's an experienced guy and pretty tough to overtake, but I was following easily and I knew we were a lot quicker than him, but obviously there is no way past. The last corner is very quick, even though it is flat, and often I was close but the tow is not that big here on the straight, so there was no way to pass him there. So the one lap earlier stop made the difference.

GP2 Series: After that it didn't look like you had much problem, although you had the safety and backed everyone up there: were you at all concerned about the restart?

Nico: If you're in the lead by a few seconds it's always comfortable, and when a safety car comes you have to start working again to make a gap! [laughs] I think the restart was pretty good, and I had a gap straight away and had nobody in my tow in the straights, which was good, and right away I knew that Luca stopped well before me so his tyres weren't so good, and after the safety car I was just flat out and pushed.

GP2 Series: The championship is all done, but you wanted to come here and show again what you could do: what does this result mean to you and for the team now?

Nico: I think it's great always to do the last race without any pressure, even though we still had to win the team championship, which we did now and which is important to the guys, and which I wanted to give to them. Coming here with a great team and a great atmosphere at the track, a nice area of the world: I'm enjoying it very much, I must say!

GP2 Series: Congratulations. Luca, congratulations on P2 today. You've been quick all weekend here, in free practice and on the first set in qualifying, but you had some bad luck in the second half of qualy: does this make up for those problems now?

Luca Filippi: I'm happy, yes! I was P1 in free practice and P1 for half of qualifying, and then we were hitting the limiter in the middle of the straight and so I was losing six tenths in one sector after that, so this made my qualifying really bad. But I knew my car was good and I knew the right way around the circuit, so I was really confident. I had two parts of the race: in the first part of the race I was challenging everybody and I had a really good start, and then I made two or three really good moves on Valsecchi and somebody else, and I felt that I was really fast. And then I had my own race after I pitted and I was really fast as well, but I wasn't pushing 100% because I didn't want to push too hard on the rears. Even when Nico came out in front of me, okay, he pulled out a bit but he wasn't so much faster, and I was losing a bit of time but not too much and the balance of the car was still really nice. The problem was when the safety car came out he was going too slowing from my point of view, and I glazed my rear brakes: for first five or six laps I wasn't able to brake at all and I was locking the rears all the time and had to change a lot the brake balance, and that is when I overheated the rear tyres because I was locking them. Otherwise I think that, of course, my tyres were a bit older, but it wouldn't have been so much at the end.

GP2 Series: We haven't seen the early stop / qualifying laps strategy for a while: were you not worried here that you would use the tyres too much by the end?

Luca: We had to do this strategy, because I knew that I was faster that the guys in front and it was the only way I could overtake them without losing too much time to the front and risking too much. Because it's not too easy to pass here: there are some places, but it's also a bit bumpy, so this was the only strategy we had for us, and I'm really pleased that it worked out.

GP2 Series: You had di Grassi all over your rear wing for the closing laps: were you worried at all about that?

Luca: Not really, because when I saw that he was very close to me I just drove the way to not give him a chance to overtake me: I was just trying to push exiting turn 4 and the second straight and last 2 corners just to make some gap, and I think he didn't have any chance to overtake.

GP2 Series: Congratulations. Lucas, congratulations on P3 after a nice drive today which was set up at the start: how was the start for you?

Lucas di Grassi: The start was good and I jumped to third, and there was a fight going on in front of me between Nico and Petrov, and after that I had the same problem as Nico because the car was really fast, and I was really pissed off that I didn't get the pole yesterday because, compared to Dani who did a good job in the same car, and I was pretty much confident to get the pole as well. So I knew I had a fast car and I was just saving the tyres and staying about a second behind Nico, and then when he pitted I tried to push as fast as I could and pitted the lap after. It was enough to jump Vitaly but I got jumped by Luca, and I was third. When I came back I pushed to try and get Luca, but here even if the guy in front is slower it is very, very difficult, especially in the last corner. So I did what I could, Luca did a good job, and it's nice to be on the podium for the team, to get third in the team's championship, I think it was quite a good result. I don't know if anybody overtook any body at all, did they?

GP2 Series: There was quite a lot of overtaking further back, especially when Pastor was going backwards at the end. All the overtaking happened at turn one: do you think there was anywhere else where it was possible to get by?

Lucas: It's possible, it's possible, but the point is first you lose a lot of downforce when you are close here in the medium speed corners, and secondly the other corners are a bit blind after turn one, and the risk of overtaking is quite high, so you need to be sure you are in a position to attack without risking too much.

GP2 Series: You had the guys in front of you, and presumably you were staying out of that in case they had a problem, but of course you later got jumped by Luca: do you think there may have been a different result if you'd got involved in the fight?

Lucas: My point of view is if we had the approach of SuperNova by stopping very early we would have been in a position to fight for the win, but it's if and if: we don't know what is going to happen, and I am satisfied with the job the team did, and another podium is always good.

-credit: gp2

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About this article
Series FIA F2
Drivers Lucas di Grassi , Luca Filippi , Nico Hulkenberg
Teams ART Grand Prix