GP2 Spa - Race 1 press conference
Maldonado, Parente and Grosjean discuss the race
Pastor, congratulations on your sixth race victory of the season, but it wasn’t an easy one: was this your toughest race of the season?
Pastor Maldonado: Yes, for sure! I had a good start, not as great as the others, but the race was good until seven laps from the end: maybe after that I had something rubbing in the car, because I lost too much, maybe something like 3 seconds per lap. Before that my car was really quick, I was quicker than d’Ambrosio, and the good moment was the pitstop where I took all the risk to overtake him there: my entry was really great, and also my exit, and our job was good because the team was fantastic, really quick, and we got first place there. After that I got a good gap, but in one lap I started to lose too much, and now we will see what happened to the car. But it’s good: one more victory, ten more points for the championship, and we’re still pushing. Being constant is our strongest point, and we’ll see for the championship: it’s always closer and closer, but it’s not there yet.
As you say, it looked like you had it sewn up until Jerome got past you: did you think it was all over then?
Pastor: No no, I let him past because the team radioed and said just to let him past, because Perez was so far, maybe P10 at that moment, so I gave it to him so that I didn’t lose anymore time fighting. After one lap he broke the engine, but at the beginning of the race when he was in the front I saw that his car was smoking a bit, so I said maybe it’s not going to finish the race, and it was like that.
And then you had Alvaro closing you down, leading up to a dramatic last lap: talk us through it from your perspective.
Pastor: Maybe it was very close at the last corner, but with one lap remaining he was not so close to me and so I tried to push, and I braked very late at the last corner: it was very short but in the end I had a good exit and I won the race!
We’re very close but not quite there: can we talk about the championship yet?
Pastor: It’s always more close, and I think Monza is going to be the end of the championship: I will try to do my best, like here and all season. We are very quick, we have a very good car, very good team, and we hope to win. I think we are the quickest this season, all season it has looked like that, and for sure we must hope to win.
Six wins this season suggests you might have a point! Congratulations.
Pastor: Thank you.
Alvaro, congratulations on P2 on your return to the series, in what was very nearly a perfect return to GP2: how was it for you?
Alvaro Parente: First of all I have to thank my team Scuderia Coloni: I have to thank all the people who helped me to come back, especially at a track like this which I love, and also to thank my sponsor ADF for helping me too. It’s a great moment for me: yesterday in the rain it was the confusion which put me there in that position so far back, but today the race was great. I didn’t know exactly what to expect from the car in the dry, because I haven’t driven it for so long, but it was incredible: it was fine, perfect, the strategy was right and gave us a clear track to push, and I think everything worked great! I’m very happy to be back, and starting from sixteenth and finishing second it’s clear that everything went well: he’s lucky I started back there! [laughs] Congratulations to the team: I had the car to win the race today, and that is very important. It was great working like this.
Before the race there was probably 3 pitstop strategies to choose from, one of which was to run long and hope for rain: was that what you were hoping for today?
Alvaro: It depends: yes, of course we were going in that direction, but it also depends what’s going on with the car and the tyres. But today it was possible to do this, so of course we tried it.
Yeah, the other side of it is the clear air in front of you, which you put to good use with a string of amazingly quick laps: how were the tyres?
Alvaro: The car was extremely good, tyre wear was controllable, and that’s why the pace was there from the beginning.
You came in with 3 laps to go, and gave yourself a hell of a chase: we’ve just heard about the last lap from his view, but how was it from inside your car?
Alvaro: I was very far away starting the last lap, still a bit too far away from him: if I was closer it would be different but I was maybe just a little too far away, and Pastor defended himself on the last braking but anyway I was too far. I finished so close because he overshot the braking, but that’s why we finished so close: I needed just one more lap, not even that maybe! [laughs]
Yeah, maybe just 100 metres! [laughs]
It’s great to have you back racing with us: do you know what the future holds with that yet?
Alvaro: It’s too soon to say still: I just don’t know.
Romain, congratulations on P3 today on your return with a team you like and a circuit you’ve always loved: how was the race for you?
Romain Grosjean: Well first of all I’m very proud of the team for the job they did, and I’m very sorry for Jerome because he did a very good race and yesterday made a very good qualifying: we are working on our process since Hockenheim, and trying to help the team with the experience I’ve had in GP2, and it’s working better and better. Yesterday we showed both cars in the top five in the rain, and today we were both performing well: unfortunately I had a grandmother start [laughs], even worse I think! When you miss the first three positions it’s hard to come back, so we decided to pit very early and to try and get some fast laps and gain the positions I lost: it worked quite well, but it was quite far to play for the win.
After the pitstop you had quite a few fights with the other guys, like Perez and Filippi and Gonzalez: how was it for you?
Romain: It was quite fun! [laughs] When you can overtake it’s good fun, and I knew I had to push: I knew every time when a guy was coming out of the pits if I wasn’t far I could be flat out and they would struggle, so it was my point and I played with it to gain the positions. Then I think we were doing a good job: it was quite difficult to not take too many risks when you start the race in the dry and you didn’t have too much practice before. Alvaro was really good for this today, coming back into the car and being straight away at the top was really impressive, and I was too conservative maybe, for once! [laughs] At the end we were on the podium, and this is good for the team: I feel very happy for them, and even if we had a problem with Jerome’s car we showed that we are here, and this was important.
It’s nice to get back on the podium…
Romain: Yeah, champagne is good! [laughs]
I’ll ask the same question I asked Alvaro: do you know what happens for you from here?
Romain: No, not yet: it’s too soon, and it’s always tough to get a seat of a driver who had a crash. I wish all the best to Ho-Pin to recover, and the last news I had is that it is going well, so we will see.
You have at least one more chance in the car tomorrow: what are you hoping for?
Romain: We will see about the weather, first of all: it’s freezing cold and sunny and raining all at the same time! We will see in the morning, and maybe there is a good chance to play.
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