FIA Formula 2: Welcome to the FIA Formula 2 Press Conference Qualifying here in Sochi. Joining me are polesitter Nyck de Vries for PERTAMINA PREMA Theodore Racing, in second Lando Norris for Carlin, and in third, George Russell for ART Grand Prix. Nyck, starting with you: it’s your second pole of the season – just tell us how good was that final lap.
Nyck de Vries: Yeah, we’ve been competitive since Free Practice, so I think that was important to build our weekend. We had a decent first run, George did a very strong second one but we managed to optimise everything, the car felt great and I did a good lap. I missed out a bit in sector 2, but I think it was still a good lap, a very good third sector, and thanks to the team for giving me a very good car.
FIA Formula 2: You were the first of the three to set your final lap – were you just waiting for confirmation that you’d got pole, or did you feel that you’d got it when you crossed the line?
Nyck: I actually improved my first sector on the next lap, but we weren’t sure if we crossed the line in time or not. We were then told we had to abort it, so we did, but we later found out that we’d actually made it in time. I’m not saying that we’d have improved, but it was a good lap anyway.
FIA Formula 2: Lando, coming to you. It was a quick turnaround after FP1 today – are you pleased with a front-row start after a busy day?
Lando Norris: Yeah, the last few weekends I’ve been pretty bad in qualifying, I haven’t been in the press conference for a while so it’s nice to be back. I’m happy with the result after the first couple of runs – the first one wasn’t so bad, but the second one George was over a second quicker. So I’d lost a bit of confidence going into the final run, but I think we made a decent setup change. I only had time to go out at the very end – I managed to go on sequence, but I was warming when everyone else was on their pushlaps. It was a bit nervewracking, didn’t want to impede anyone, but I was surprised at my time over the line. I was happy though, so whichever way it came it doesn’t matter – it’s good to start on P2.
FIA Formula 2: When you look at the timing screens, is your focus on pole or looking at where George is?
Lando: I think for myself…it’s always good to be ahead of George, but for myself I’m more happy if I’m just on pole rather than being ahead of anyone in particular. Qualifying is fun, it’s always good to try and get everything out of the car and do a lap as good as possible! Yeah, after the past few weekends, and this being my biggest weakness of the whole season, I’m happy with P2.
FIA Formula 2: George, coming to you – you were the fastest ahead of the red flag and the fastest after the first runs. Where do you think pole position got away from you?
George Russell: Yeah, I made quite a big mistake in the second corner in my final run, and I tried to compensate in sector 1 and 2, and I was overpushing. We already lost the time and were never gonna get it back, so I ended up hurting myself even more. I was a bit disappointed to be honest, I think I was the only driver in the top twelve bar one not to improve over seven tenths – I only improved half a tenth – so I think pole was there for the taking. Nevertheless, we’re being consistent, it’s the tenth time we’ve started from the top 4 – which is a good place to start, especially with a long run to turn 2 – so if it’s not pole, anywhere in the top 4 I’m happy with.
FIA Formula 2: I was going to mention the long run to turn 2 – you can pick up a big tow, have you already been looking how you’re going to approach that?
George: I think the starts have been quite inconsistent this year, so who knows who’ll make a good start and who’ll make a bad start? If the three of us make the same start, I’ll be in a good position to grab a slipstream, but again – who knows how it’ll be?
FIA Formula 2: Nyck, returning to you – similar question, is this going to be one of the harder tracks to maintain pole position off the line?
Nyck: I don’t think so necessarily, but as George said the starts have been inconsistent this year – in Spa, we looked like starter kings and in Monza we were nowhere, so I think we just need to focus on our procedure and that’s the key to maintaining position into turn 1.