GP2 Series: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference for today's qualifying session here in Silverstone. Joining us today are poleman Fabio Leimer from Racing Engineering, in second place we have Johnny Cecotto from Addax, and in third place we have Jolyon Palmer from iSport. Fabio, congratulations on a very dominant session, where no one could get close to you: what do you put your performance down to today?
Fabio Leimer: Actually I'm really happy because in free practice already I was really quick, I was the first sector around 8/10ths, 9/10ths quicker than in the second one, but the problem was all the red flags and yellow flags in the morning. I was already sure when I went out for qualy that I could be really quick, I was already pushing on the first lap or two for lap time because I was sure that it would be the same as in the morning, many red flags and yellow flags, but in the end it was quite nice! It was really fun to drive because the car was really good, and I could actually improve every time [around], more and more. They were telling me that I was one second or more away, and I was really happy and was pushing more and more! In the end they told me Cecotto is 9/10ths behind me and the red flag was coming out, so we came in for new tyres for another flying lap, but then we had a little problem with the car. But in the end it was enough for pole position.
GP2 Series: You seemed to have a lot in reserve, and could improve your times whenever anyone closed a little: how much were you driving within yourself, considering the conditions?
Fabio: The thing was, in the free practice we really had bad conditions and it was not easy to drive, and in the qualy I was improving every lap, more and more, because I was actually searching more the limits of the track. That was feeling really comfortable, and every lap I knew I could improve more and more, and even in my quickest lap I had quite a big mistake in the last sector, where I lost quite a bit! I would say that the first and second sector was quick enough to still make the pole position, even with the last sector.
GP2 Series: You've been quite fast in all the races this year, with a bit of bad luck, but the ultimate lap time in qualy seems to have just eluded you: is this an indication that you've resolved that problem?
Fabio: We have been fighting all year for a pole position, and sometimes you are close, like in Malaysia or Barcelona, but it was not enough: every time it was just a small, small gap which we had to improve for P1, but finally now we did it! I'm really happy because, for me, P1 is the most important thing for tomorrow because in the race we are really strong, like we saw in Valencia, and I think when we start at the front, and can have a good start, then we have a good chance to win the race.
GP2 Series: I was going to ask about that: do you think you can translate pole into a win?
Fabio: I think so, for sure. The most important thing is to have a good start, and then it's just driving and saving the tyres. We will see how the weather is tomorrow, because at the moment we don't know if it's raining or dry.
GP2 Series: Congratulations. Johnny, P2 today with a bit more of a dramatic session for you! How was it inside the car today?
Johnny Cecotto: It was quite dramatic! [laughs] About 16 or 17 minutes into the session I had some problem with the car, an electrical problem and the engine switched off, and luckily I saw there was a red flag so I thought okay, I'm not going to impede anybody if I roll back into the pits, and I managed to just arrive close to the entrance to the pitlane, and the marshals were able to push me into the pitlane. Then the mechanics did a really good job, managed to find the problem right away and fixed it, and we managed to go out once more and improve just a little bit more, and enough for P2. Minutes after I came back to the pitlane there was more: the shock of what happened during the session, and just being happy about being in P2!
GP2 Series: How hard was it to go out again after the red flag, considering you had some problem just before you went back out?
Johnny: In the moment I completely forgot about that, and also we had problems with the radio so I had absolutely no idea what position we were: at the moment I came in I knew we were P2, but after that I had no idea in the last ten minutes what position I was, so I just had to push the hardest I could. Then I came back to the pitlane and I asked five times what position I was: everybody was like 'congratulations, congratulations', and I kept saying 'yeah, but what position am I?' and they just kept saying 'congratulations, congratulations' [laughs] In the end I thought okay, I guess it must be a good position, at least! [laughs] So in the end I was happy, but it was quite a difficult session...
GP2 Series: After today I guess tomorrow should be easy! What are your thoughts on the race?
Johnny: Fabio did an amazing job today: I had a little bit of problems in the session today, but for sure better than P2 today was impossible, and I think we did the best job we could do but Fabio did an amazing job today. Tomorrow let's see, but tomorrow everything is open: I'm usually better in the race than in qualifying, so tomorrow I think everything is open.
GP2 Series: Great job today. Jolyon, P3 and your best qualifying performance to date, and at home too: I guess you must be pretty happy with that?
Jolyon Palmer: Yeah, especially after practice where I only did one flying lap, and it was a complete mess! I didn't really know what my pace was going to be like, or anyone's pace would be like, so to finish P3 in the end and it was drying as well, so everyone was getting quicker, I'm pretty happy with that.
GP2 Series: Your lap came on the very last minute of the session: was it just everything coming together at the right time, with the conditions getting better?
Jolyon: The conditions were getting better, and I was always up there before the red flag I think between P2 and P6, I kept being told on the radio, and then after the red flag I didn't get a lap in at all with all the traffic and yellow flags and all sorts, so the last lap I just did a tidy lap, no mistakes, and picked it up to P3.
GP2 Series: Considering the conditions it may be hard to know completely, but how were the tyres today?
Jolyon: I think they were pretty good. It's impossible to tell from free practice really, because we had so little running, but they held out quite well. We lost the rears a little bit as the track started to dry, but overall I think even if it stays wet we've got enough tyres to last a weekend.
GP2 Series: If it becomes sunny and hot tomorrow, do you have an advantage over these guys just from local knowledge?
Jolyon: Probably not really, because these guys are experienced, and everyone at the front is experienced: it's GP2. I don't mind if it's sunny and hot, because I really like the track, and hopefully there will be a good crowd. If it's dry or wet I think a good result is possible, so my focus isn't really on the weather: just getting here on time [laughs] and focussing on a good result.