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Drivers reflect on Valencia weekend

28 June 2011

Barwa Addax's Giedo van der Garde ended up the most consistently successful driver at Valencia, with second place in the feature race and third in the sprint, but it was clear that he felt he had been robbed of victory in the former.

"I think we were very quick today, and we would have won: we have a very good start, and after that I was just controlling the pace because we knew that it would be a long race," he said. "After the pitstop the car was handling even better, and I was very pleased with that and quickly built a gap to 5 seconds, so I had that in the pocket ... But then I heard we had a drive through. I came in, and after that I think it was a very spectacular race!"

The highlight of van der Garde's recovery was his multi-lap battle with Davide Valsecchi that showed that races on the Valencia race track don't have to be dull affairs.

"It was a very good fight because in turn 14 I was quicker than him, but he could close the gap because there were walls and if I chose the right side, the inside, we would have been crashing!," he said, laughing. "But the third time he went straight and I knew, so I took him on the inside and then it was the last lap, so I just took it easy and controlled. We showed today that we are the man!"

"We were I think 2 or 3 seconds behind Grosjean, and I didn't have the pace or the speed to be with them in the second part of the race," said AirAsia's Valsecchi. "When they told me on the radio that van der Garde was behind because he took a drive-thru I tried to push all that I could to make a gap from [Racing Engineering's Dani] Clos, but he was just too fast. When he caught me he used a great technique to overtake me – it happens!"

Romain Grosjean was delighted with the victory in the feature race which followed van der Garde's drive-thru penalty. "I'm really happy with our second victory, which has been a long time coming. I was well on the pace and the team did a really good job to provide me with a competitive car. It's great that we're now back in the lead [of the GP2 championship].

Grosjean was in a rather more downbeat mood after the sprint race on Sunday. "What a frustrating race!," he said "We're really going to have to make a success of our second races despite the principle of the reversed grid."

As far as he was concerned, the accident for which he was penalised was not his fault. "The start went off alright and then the drivers just in front squeezed me and there was nothing I could do," he said, speaking before the news of his ten-place grid penalty to be served at the Silverstone feature race in two week's time. "In corners four/five a mechanical component broke after a driver tagged me from behind at the entry to corner four."

Dams team general manager Loic David confirmed that the spin that put Grosjean out of the sprint race was not a result of the second turn contact. "The contact in corner two was not the cause as he was caught in a sandwich," he explained. "It was after another contact in corner four that he spun in the following one due to a suspension breakage."

Grosjean's team mate Pal Varhaug was penalised the day before for contact with Fairuz Fauzy, and had to battle from 23rd place on the grid to a tenth place finish in the sprint race. "It's a pity I started from so far back. I nursed my tyres in the opening laps and that was a big help in the last ten," he said, but then saw the bright side of the experience. "I overtook six cars, which shows how much I've progressed. I have to score points in the next event. Roll on Silverstone!”

The sprint race was the first GP2 series win for 19-year-old Mexican driver Esteban Gutierrez for Lotus ART. "It's a very good result for us, a very good step from what we did at the previous events," he said. "We finally achieved it, and this is something that personally and inside the team makes us very motivated, because the way it's working is going in the right direction ... But we have to be realistic: it's only one win, it's only one event, and we have to keep getting points and to improve."

Valsecchi's AirAsia team mate Luiz Razia finished second in Sunday's race and admitted that he had been expecting Gutierrez' tyres to go off in the final laps and give him a chance to catch up and fight for the win - but it never happened.

"Yeah, I was expecting him to run out of tyres," he said. "With ten laps to go I said maybe now he'll start to go back, but his pace today was really good: I was really impressed because yesterday he was quite slow and we overtook him with 3 laps, but today he was strong from the beginning to the end, so congratulations to him."

And van der Garde finished in third place in the race, declaring: "I'm very pleased about the weekend [overall]: yesterday of course was not perfect, I should have won it but anyway the speed was there, the car was really fast yesterday. Today I struggled a bit at end of the race with the rear tyres.

"But anyway I'm very happy, it was a great race again today with some good overtaking and a reasonable start, and the [GP2 championship] competitors were more or less out, so I was pleased."

He agreed that the sort of consistency he had shown in Valencia was the key to winning titles. "Absolutely. You have to be there every time, even if you don't have the best car or you do have the best car, you have to be there every time," he insisted. "That's the key to this competition, because the opposition is so hard."

When it comes to consistency, the less said the better about the weekends of three of van der Garde's main rivals - his team mate Charles Pic, iSport's Sam Bird and Lotus ART's Jules Bianchi - the better.


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