Motorsport News - GP2
Barcelona GP2 Qualifying Press Conference
12th May 2012
Calado, Leimer and Richelmi discuss the session
GP2 Series: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference for today's qualifying session here in Barcelona: joining us today are poleman James Calado from Lotus GP, in second place we have Fabio Leimer from Racing Engineering, and in third we have Stephane Richelmi from Trident. James, congratulations on your first pole position in GP2: how was qualifying from your seat?
James Calado: It's a fantastic feeling to be in first place for the first time! It was a tough qualifying session for everyone: none of us had used the soft tyre previously, so we didn't know what to expect or what the car would be like, how to change our driving style, and we assumed it would be just the one lap, which proved to be the case.
They degraded very, very quickly, and I was lucky and got one in there before that yellow flag: it was a pretty good lap, I didn't make any mistakes, and it's a bit unfortunate for my teammate as he was equally as quick but he had to slow down for the yellow flag, or it could have been a one-two. But I'm really happy to be at the front with the top guys, especially after a disastrous race in Bahrain where we had a problem with the car: all is fixed, and it's just nice to have a quick car and be confident again.
GP2 Series: As you said, it was a bit of a shot in the dark because of the tyres: given that, how do you approach a session like this one?
James: You can only go on data that we've had previously, and previously we ran on hard and medium in the test, we knew the balance changes between those compounds, and we assumed it would just be a bigger change. We made some changes since practice, and it seemed to work, but it's difficult for all of us because it seems that for the first two sectors you've got grip, but if you push slightly too hard in those two sectors you can lose it all in the third sector because it's all the tight, twisty stuff. Even on a qualifying lap you have to manage your tyres: it is quite bonkers, actually! [laughs] But it's the same for everyone, it's a good result, and I'm looking forward to starting from pole tomorrow.
GP2 Series: In Bahrain I believe you weren't quite happy with the car, because you and the team possibly hadn't got on top of set up: does this mean you've sorted that out now?
James: Well it wasn't anything to do with set up: the first race in Bahrain was quite good, the second one we seemed to have an issue with, well, I'm trying to use my words carefully here [laughs], we had an issue with the right rear, a problem that we couldn't find because it wasn't showing up in the data. We found it for the last race, and that was the only race where we went forward: you do get those races but it's history now, who cares about that, I'm on the front row now with these guys, and we'll try to have an entertaining race tomorrow!
GP2 Series: And what do you see happening tomorrow?
James: Well, I've got to go for the win, haven't I? I hope to get a good start, and it's all going to be about managing tyres: you don't know who's going to pit early, pit late, so all I can do is what I've done in the past, like in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi where I've led, but who knows? We'll see what happens, but obviously the goal is to win the race and stay on track.
GP2 Series: Congratulations. Fabio, I think you've now qualified fifth, fourth and third so far, so I guess you're exactly where you are supposed to be today?
Fabio Leimer: Yeah, exactly! [laughs] That means I will have to take pole in Monaco because fifth, fourth, third, second, so hopefully I can do it next time! This time it was not perfect in my flying lap but I was not losing a lot, and I'm quite happy with my lap: in free practice we were about P11, which was not so good, and obviously we've improved quite a bit, and I think tomorrow we can do quite a good race because I know how to drive a long race, how to manage everything, and I think it will be quite interesting!
GP2 Series: The tyres were a new challenge for everyone: how did you find them, and how did you deal with the unknown for your fast lap?
Fabio: I think it's really difficult for a driver because you're going out in qualy for the first time on these tyres, and you don't know how to drive them: you don't know how to make the balance, but in the end I have to say they were not completely different from the prime ones and I think I managed them quite well, I could take everything out of the tyre, and I'm quite happy with it. The other question is about a long race, because we don't know how consistent they would be, but we have to see that with the team and make a decision about tomorrow.
GP2 Series: Obviously we don't have experience of driving these cars on these tyres, but how would you explain the difference between the tyres for us?
Fabio: I think it depends on the car: overall I would say it's a little bit better on the grip level, but if you have it also you need to know how to use it, and that was a challenge.
GP2 Series: Front row tomorrow, and a bit of bad luck earlier in the season: what are the plans?
Fabio: I will try to win the race! I know how to manage it, so I need to make a very good start, because Calado is very quick, manage everything at the beginning, and then we'll see.
GP2 Series: Great job today. Stephane, congratulations on your best qualifying session in GP2: how does it feel?
Stephane Richelmi: For sure it's a great feeling to be here: after a bad practice I didn't expect to be so quick! In the end the car was just perfect, and as they said the first lap was so important: I managed to have a free lap, didn't make any mistakes, and in the end the lap time was quite good. Until now things have been not too bad, but I just have to work on my starts with the team: I have to look after my tyres better, because in the race we lose the tyres so quickly that we can't last. But the main thing is it worked well today, and now we have to work hard for the race.
GP2 Series: Obviously it's a new challenge for everyone, but why do you think you've done better than some of the more experienced guys here?
Stephane: For everyone it was new, so we just put the set up that we thought would be good, and it worked. I pushed really hard, and with the soft tyres you have a lot of grip, so even if you are sliding or the set up is not perfect, you can manage it. That's what I like, and the balance was really good: that's why we were able to go to the front.
GP2 Series: It was a fantastic job today, but tomorrow is the real test: you have a lot of more experienced guys around you, so what do you think is going to happen?
Stephane: Firstly I have to manage my start: in Malaysia I took a drive through because I moved, and in Bahrain I hit twice the anti-stall, so tomorrow I just want to keep my position, or not lose too much! I will not look to be first at the first corner: I will just try to follow the guy in front of me and not hurt my tyres too much, and we'll see. It's a great feeling to be here as a rookie, and I will just enjoy this.
GP2 Series: Great job today: congratulations.
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