GP2 Series: James, congratulations on your second pole for the season: it was a very close session on the timing screens, but how was it for you in the car?
James Calado: It was a surprising session, unexpected really, because the majority of the field started on the harder soft compound, and the majority set their fastest laps on those tyres! I did 2 laps that I think were good enough for pole position, and I was reasonably happy with how everything went, but I have to say on my fastest lap I hit a kerb, and went up a gear by accident! So I had to go back down again, and I lost a couple of tenths there, but it was nice to be at the front straight away, like in Barcelona, and it's only the second track I've known, just like Barcelona. It helps when you've got track knowledge, especially when tyre degradation is so high.
Then everyone went onto the super softs, and unusually it was just horrible for me: the balance completely shifted to oversteer through the tight corners, so the advantage where you can brake late and accelerate the oversteer was just incredible, and I couldn't get on the throttle. And that's one of the reasons why I spun: I went in quite hot, and just lost the rear end and was lucky not to hit the wall. I did a couple more laps but there was no improvement, but quite a long way, and I just decided to pit a couple of minutes from the end.
GP2 Series: Were you worried that you would lose pole by coming in early?
James: Yeah I was, because everyone was on super softs and I thought they would improve. I thought 'why aren't I improving? This is a disaster!' [laughs] and thought I would be maybe 6th or 7th at best, so when the engineer came on the radio and said 'you're still P1' I thought Jesus Christ! [laughs] So it was really good, and it's really nice that Mr Nasr is on the front row, two rookies, and Esteban did a good job of qualifying third. So it was good for Lotus, and the car was really nice to drive, so hopefully we can have a good race tomorrow.
GP2 Series: You've been here before, in Barcelona, so what are your expectations this time for the race?
James: In Barcelona I held the lead into the first corner and didn't do anything wrong within the rules, and I'd do the same again, as long as it's in the rules. As long as I get a good start, and we've made a few mods to the clutch and I'm really happy with the way it feels, so as long as I get a good start it just the same old usual story: just driving slowly to make the end of the race. It's the same for everyone: it's just who drives slowly, quicker! [laughs]
GP2 Series: Felipe, congratulations on P2 today, your best qualifying position for the season: how happy are you with your job today?
Felipe Nasr: Yeah, I guess it's pretty good to start from the front row! [laughs] It's good to be back in shape here: Valencia is a track that I know from Formula BMW back in 2009, so coming back to the circuits that I know from now on makes my life a bit easier. We have a strong car, with both cars in the top five with me second and Valsecchi fourth, and I'm pretty happy: it's been a pretty tough few weekends past, but from now on we start a new season, and there is plenty of time to catch up on the points we lost. To start a weekend well like this, well, things can only get better!
GP2 Series: You've been chipping away and improving over the season, but this is the first time you've been to a track before: how much of a difference has that made to your result today?
Felipe: That's crucial you know, that's really important: if you look at Barcelona, in free practice I was really competitive but we had an issue in qualifying so we couldn't put things together, but as I'm back in the European circuits that I know, it becomes much easier because you come to a circuit, you have half an hour practice to sort out your car and the balance, so here is different: I have come to a track where I don't have to find my way in the braking area or see the turns, I know where the grip is, where the line is, so it makes things much easier. But as you said, in the last races we've been competitive, we've been very close to scoring points, but with motor racing sometimes things are not the way you want them to happen. Anyway, the rest is gone, and now we start on a new part [of the season].
GP2 Series: There was always going to be a bit of a question about how to go with the tyres, as you've got the two compounds to use: are you happy with your choices today, and how were they during the session?
Felipe: We went out on the soft tyres, and a few people went out on the super softs for the first run, but I guess we made the right choice: I found the car more stable on the soft tyres, which surprised me because everyone thought there would be more grip on the super soft, but no one improved on them today [except Max Chilton]. I think it was right to go out on the softs, even thought the Formula One rubber makes a bigger influence on the lap time. A few people did their own decisions, but I was quite happy with that: if you wanted to go on pole then maybe you could have gone on another set of softs, because we have more to play with this weekend, but in a way we are safe in this position, so it's better to keep them for the race.
GP2 Series: A different start for you tomorrow, with not as many cars in front of you, and only the one guy to your left to think about: what are your hopes for the race?
Felipe: First of all I hope to finish the race! [laughs] That is the main thing! Of course having a good start, keeping the car in place and in shape: you need many things to go right in a race, not just the first few laps, you need the right pitstop and everything, so I just hope that everything comes together, and I will be aiming for a podium place.
GP2 Series: Esteban, P3 on the road today with both cars in the top three: I imagine you and the team must take a lot of satisfaction from that?
Esteban Gutierrez: Yes, it was a good day! Basically, from a very difficult start to the season, quite inconsistent and not what we expected, I went to Mexico for a few days between Monaco and Valencia, I used this time to clear out my mind, and now I have come back with the main goal of getting the right energy back into the team, the right enjoyment for myself in the track, and to not think so much about the results or in the championship. Suddenly I can feel that I am getting back this energy, this enjoyment, and I needed to get this along with the feeling of the car, to just relax and to feel more free generally. This is why I think we were able to bring back this result.
GP2 Series: It's nice to see you with a smile on your face again: it has been a while! Is the difference just having this break and letting the stress go, improvements on the car, or anything else?
Esteban: Sometimes you reach a point in which you realise that things are not going well, especially in our case where we have a strong car but we were doing mistakes, I made mistakes in Monaco, the team in the pitstops, and generally everything was not right. So you reach a point where you think okay, now it's time to analyse what's happening, why we're making these mistakes, why we are going in this direction, and this is the point where you really have to stop thinking so much about the results and think more about bringing back the good energy into everything, the enjoyment of every mechanic, every engineer, myself, and to start from the beginning, more or less. [laughs] Right now, today, we had a good result, but we need to give this same energy to the next sessions: it doesn't matter if it's practice, qualifying or a race, but it's important to consolidate the results and to keep on going with the same tendency.
GP2 Series: You've got an opportunity tomorrow in the race: how do you approach that now?
Esteban: Well, we will do our best. As I told you, I'm not thinking too much of the results: I have a very good starting position, I hope to have a good start and to be clean through the first corner and at least keep my position, which is the minimum goal [laughs], and then of course if we have a strong pace in the race then to overtake with some solid moves would be a big help, to make more positions.