2017 Round 10 Feature Race Press Conference

2017 Round 10 Feature Race Press Conference

Leclerc, Rowland and Fuoco discuss the race

FIA Formula 2: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference for today’s feature race here at the Circuito de Jerez: joining us are race winner Charles Leclerc from PREMA Racing, in second we have Oliver Rowland from DAMS, and in third place was Antonio Fuoco who is also from PREMA Racing. Charles, congratulations for the race win despite what appeared to be a very difficult last lap: how was the race from your perspective?

Charles Leclerc: On the option tyres we were very, very quick, but then we were struggling more than Oli on the prime tyres: I don’t really know why for now. I pushed quite a lot, and when he was doing quite quick lap times I told myself he maybe just wanted to catch up a little bit and he might not be keeping the tyres, but actually he stayed on this pace until the safety car. Just before the safety car I started to pick up the pace also, and we were more or less equal: he was a little bit quicker, but not as much as the laps before. When we saw the safety car I thought okay, it’s going to be a lot harder now! Because I was pushing to keep the gap up, when the safety car came out I had no tyres left and I was a bit scared! The tyres seemed to cool a little bit and the team told me ‘last lap’ so perfect, only 1 lap to do so I will push like crazy, and then they said ‘no, 1 lap more’ and I thought another lap, okay, I can push again. But there was 2 laps more and I had absolutely no tyres left! [laughs] That made things very, very hard but I managed to stay in front, and I had Sean [Gelael] behind me who was cutting the gap between me and Oliver so he lost a bit of time. But I’m very, very happy overall, and we just need to work for tomorrow on the prime tyres.

FIA Formula 2: On those prime tyres you were under a lot of pressure, and you told us yesterday that you compromised yourself for tomorrow’s race by using the extra set in qualifying to try to win today: was that going through your mind on that last lap?

Charles: Yeah! A lot of things were going through my mind from lap 7, and I had a lot of pressure at the end and my rear tyres were completely dead: I think Oliver might have been laughing in his helmet from behind because he was watching me being all over the place! But I’m very happy about the race, anyway.

FIA Formula 2: Oliver, in terms of the race, was the start where you lost the chance to really battle for the win, safety car notwithstanding?

Oliver Rowland: Yeah maybe, but I started 4th and came out of turn 2 where I started, and the key was to pass Sette Camara: I drove for MP last year and sometimes in the race it wasn’t the strongest point, so I knew he may be vulnerable. I made a bit of risk at turn 6 on the first lap, and then I just wanted to stick close to Ghiotto and pass him in the pitstop, but he had a drop off so I was able to pass him before it. I didn’t really expect to catch Charles at all, he was a long way in front and I couldn’t even see him, and then all of a sudden I started to see him at the last corner: as he said I was a bit quicker, and I wanted to put the pressure on to him. I pushed pretty hard, because I wanted him to push too to see who could last the longest on the tyres, and I settled into a rhythm, but then Sean Gelael came out of the pits and I don’t know if he was on fresh tyres or not but he was a little bit in the way and I was in the dirty air, which was a little bit frustrating: it took him a lap or so to get up to speed before he took off and pressed Charles a little bit. The safety car took a lot out of Charles, and if the race had continued I think I had the rhythm and I knew he was starting to struggle a bit. I wanted to capitalise but it was difficult because I had some backmarkers trying to pass me, which was a bit frustrating because I was trying to concentrate on my lines but I had to leave one eye on the mirror to see if they were coming. It was a race full of action, I pushed and I did my best, but well done to Charles on the championship: he’s done a fantastic job.

FIA Formula 2: How frustrating is it for you to be trying to race for the lead but also having to race backmarkers?

Oliver: Obviously I’m aware of the situation, and if I was them and there was 2 laps left you are a lap down: why? That’s the first question, and I understand if you are a lap down you can still race, but don’t go in dangerous positions: just pass me or don’t pass me. It was frustrating because they were coming alongside me in the straight and then backing off behind me, and I was thinking just pass me or drop back and go away [laughs] because I want to fight with Charles. So a little bit frustrated, and it’s a tricky situation for them as well, but when there’s 2 laps left and you’re a lap down after a safety car it seems a little bit silly to even fight.

FIA Formula 2: Thanks. Antonio, a difficult qualifying for you yesterday but a fantastic response for you today: how did your race unfold for you?

Antonio Fuoco: I think the start was okay and then before the safety car I was not very happy with the pace: I think it was a bit slow compared to the others, but then when we put the soft tyres on it was very good. When the safety car came out I said we’ve got a good chance, and when it went in I pushed very hard, overtook some cars and the last 2 laps it was a bit of a dangerous case with Sean and Deletraz: I think they should have got out of the way, we were fighting for the podium, and we need to take a look at this. But I’m happy for the podium, for the team and for Charles for winning championship, and I think the focus is now on the teams’ championship because we also need to win that one.

FIA Formula 2: Were you surprised that the other drivers didn’t get out of the way at the safety car restart, and were there any blue flags? We couldn’t see them on the TV.

Antonio: I didn’t see any blue flags, and they just said on the radio I was P3 and I thought it was impossible, I was P5 because of the others, but they said they’re not in the race so I thought they should go out of the way. But they stayed in front and I lost a lot of time: maybe we had the chance to win the race today, but it’s like this, we pushed and we are on the podium.

FIA Formula 2: Charles, can you talk us through the differences between the tyres, will it be a disadvantage for you tomorrow, and do you really care if it is?

Charles: Do I really care? A little bit, because there’s still the teams’ championship to win, and I want to finish the championship as we started it, I won’t just cruise behind and wait for the last race. We will work on it, but I think any issues we’ve had during the year we’ve been pretty good at facing them and to solve them the day after, so we’ll work on it overnight. I know what I felt, I know what to do, and for sure my engineer knows what to do to solve it so I’m not really concerned.

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