Spa: Qualifying press conference

Herck, d'Ambrosio and Maldonado discuss the session GP2 Series: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference for today's qualifying session here in Spa Francorchamps. Joining us today for the first time in pole position we have Michael...

Herck, d'Ambrosio and Maldonado discuss the session

GP2 Series: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference for today's qualifying session here in Spa Francorchamps. Joining us today for the first time in pole position we have Michael Herck from DPR, in second place for his home race we have Jerome d'Ambrosio from Dams, and in third place is Pastor Maldonado from Rapax. Michael, congratulations on your first pole: how does it feel?

Michael Herck: Yes, for me it's the first one, and it's unbelievable! I knew that I could do the pole position, but I had to do it in this session, against him [Maldonado], against d'Ambrosio, for me it's incredible! There was a lot of red flags during the session, it was a completely different situation, and also during the session I had to go to the weighing area so it disturbed me a lot. I think the reason I did the pole is that I was quite calm, if you know what I mean: I was tranquil and I knew that I had the car to do the pole, and when you know that you can do it, it's always easier.

GP2 Series: Knowing you can do it and actually doing are two different things, of course: how did you manage the session, particularly given the number of yellow and red flags we saw throughout, to make sure you were okay with them but still fast enough for pole?

Michael: When you are not quick you cannot believe anything, you are nervous and you try to do a lot of things, and in the end you do the wrong thing. When you are quick you just have to focus on one or two points, and the two points were to focus in front of me and to not make any mistakes on my quick lap: one lap I made a mistake, I think the one after I did my quick lap, and I was four tenths quicker but I made a mistake. But I knew that my previous lap was okay, and you have to focus just on how to do this. I think to be quick I have to hope that the end of the session wasn't like before in the session [with lighter rain], and I knew that would not be good for me: I'm really good in the heavy rain. So for me it was just do all the things in the good way, do all the things well: and I could do it without any problems, for once! [laughs]

GP2 Series: You start from the front tomorrow, and we don't know what the weather will do yet, but what are your hopes?

Michael: Firstly I hope to not stall! [laughs] After this I hope to be in the first three or four for the first lap of the race, and that would be a good thing for the rest of the race: if you are further you will never find space and are blocked by people in front of you, and when you are between guys who are really fast you can follow the rhythm. I think at this moment if you are first then it is easier, but if I don't make a good start, if Maldonado is quicker than me for the first lap, I don't know...

Jerome d'Ambrosio: [raises finger] Or me...

Michael: Or you, of course! [laughs] But I think anyway that it will be easier than other races, the condition of the weather will depend of course, but if you are in the first position I think it is easier: Jerome or Pastor can tell you this better than me! [laughs]

GP2 Series: We will see: congratulations. Jerome, congratulations on P2 in a tricky session at your home circuit: are you happy with your performance today?

Jerome: Yeah, I think it's really nice. The weekend started off with a bit of a difficult practice session because I had a problem with the engine, but I am delighted with this result: it's obviously difficult with the way the weather changed all the time, with the yellow flags, red flags, but it's a great job by the team because we've had good performances by both drivers and were always at the front, and I'm really happy about this.

GP2 Series: Yes, you were both at the front for most of the session, which was always going to be a tricky one: how did you approach it?

Jerome: It's always tricky when it's a damp session, and it means you've always got to get the good times from the beginning because you never know what the next lap is going to be like, for red flag reasons, yellow flag reasons, or the weather. So you need to push, you need a good strategy from the team, and we handled it really well, and you need to be out of the traffic: this is the key point in the rain, and we managed that really well together, which is why we're at the front.

GP2 Series: You set your quickest lap on the last time round: talk us through that lap.

Jerome: That lap started on the lap before, with the warm up lap: I had my engineer say this is it Jerome, this is the lap, and you know as a driver it's raining but the track is getting better and you have to put it all together on that lap, and I managed it. Well, I nearly managed it, Michael was a bit quicker than me, but it's great. It's really good as you all know what I went through over the last few weekends, in Hockenheim and everything, but I've shown that I was able to come back stronger in Hungary and here, and also with Romain in the other car we are able to do some good work, and that moves us forward, which is important.

GP2 Series: What are you hopes for tomorrow: a local win?

Jerome: I have no hopes in terms of results: I just want maximum attack, and I want to be satisfied and happy at the end of the race.

GP2 Series: Good job today. Pastor, congratulations on P3 today, five spots ahead of Sergio, who I guess you were look for: satisfied with your job today?

Pastor Maldonado: Yeah, the place is not bad, to start from third. For sure it will be interesting in the race, because of the weather and everything, and my close contenders [for the title] are far: Perez is eighth today, so that's good for me. I didn't really have a very good lap, I had traffic and yellow flags, and all the time had some problems, but at the end I did a clean lap, not my best but the time was good, and it's still top three: that's fine, to be consistent for all the races, all the qualifying is top four, so it's good.

GP2 Series: We had four red flags today, which must be a record, and you were all racing to be the first one back out: how much of an advantage was it to be out first?

Pastor: Here for sure the first thing is the weather conditions, a lot of rain and you couldn't see very well because there was a lot of water, and after that the track is very slippery on the white lines, so it was a very difficult session for everyone.

GP2 Series: You were nevertheless fairly consistent at the top of the timesheets, and we know that Michael will be hoping for his first win, and Jerome has just said that he will attack: will you be just going for points for the championship, or something else?

Pastor: For sure I have a very quick car in the race in any conditions, wet or dry, so I will do my best like always, and try to win. It is not easy, I think it will be an interesting race, and we will look at the forecast for tomorrow and see: I'm confident for tomorrow.

Editor's note:
After the qualifying session pole-sitter Michael Herck and others were penalized for "failing to sufficiently slow for yellow flags during qualifying." Herck will now start the race fourth, with Jerome d'Ambrosio inheriting the pole, Pastor Maldonado starting second and Oliver Turvey in third.
See also: Spa: Post qualifying penalties announced

-source: gp2 series

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series FIA F2
Drivers Pastor Maldonado , Michael Herck , Jérôme d'Ambrosio , Oliver Turvey
Teams Rapax