GP3 Series: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference for today’s Race 1 here in Silverstone: joining us today are race winner George Russell from ART Grand Prix, in second is his teammate Anthoine Hubert, and in third place we have Alessio Lorandi from Jenzer Motorsport. George, race winner at the British Grand Prix: how does it feel?
George Russell: It feels great! I’ve been looking forward to doing this race ever since I signed to do GP3 with ART, and I said to you yesterday that I’ve got lots of great memories from Silverstone, and it brought a lot of confidence to me coming into this weekend. So I’ve been looking forward to doing this weekend for a while, and to win in front of my home crowd, with family and friends coming to support me, is a great feeling.
GP3 Series: You didn’t have it all your own way, as Anthoine got ahead of you off the line: how were those first few laps?
George: I’ve been struggling with starts all year to be honest, and I got off the line and thought ‘I’ve made a good start here’ and I looked right and he’d already passed me! [laughs] What’s going on there! I quickly recognised that Anthoine was struggling a bit in the beginning, so I kept a bit of a gap and then when the DRS became available I tried to nail a couple of corners and was on the back of him, and managed to take advantage of that. From then on it was a bit of a tense race, and I was trying to control the pace because the tyres were on the edge of degrading and I didn’t want to over-push, but then again the DRS is extremely effective here. There was a really strong headwind into turn 15, Stowe, so Anthoine could be almost 1 second behind me, use the DRS and be almost able to overtake! That made it tough, and then with the VSC in the middle of the race it was very difficult: it’s quite a challenge to keep the oil and water temperatures above optimum while keeping the speed up, so basically we were quicker in 4th gear, all the GP3 cars are, but the oil temperature seems to drop a bit. To try and manage this was tough for me, but then I managed to nail the restart: I feel Anthoine would have overtaken me if the VSC had finished 500m later, because he would have been right behind me going into Maggots and Becketts and exiting right behind me, and I’m sure he would have passed me!
Anthoine Hubert: It would have been perfect! [laughs]
George: I think that’s something that needs to be brought up in a briefing, because it’s something that could have really cost me, which would have been a little unfair, but in the end it worked out well, and a great job from ART once again.
GP3 Series: The VSC period was interesting as you say, because it was quite close at the front but I guess it helped a little with the tyres: was that just an offset?
George: When we restarted it was quite tough, I felt: when the VSC ended we were straight into the high speed part of the circuit. I had Anthoine right behind me and I knew I had to brake in those couple of corners or else he’d pass me, so it was a risky moment of the race, and I think a couple of drivers were affected by that down the grid: Alessio took advantage of that also. But it’s part and parcel of racing, and the VSC is a certain improvement over the Safety Car because it was a small incident and sure, it would have been better for the show, but it’s a shame when someone is out front and builds a gap but then they’re all bunched up again. It’s heading in the right direction.
GP3 Series: Congratulations. Anthoine, so close but so far: your first podium, which must make you happy, but you were leading the race for a while there…
Anthoine Hubert: Yes, that’s exactly my feeling! My first podium feels good after a P4 at the Red Bull Ring last weekend, but of course after leading the first 2 or 3 laps and the good start when I did what I expected, and what I said to you yesterday… [laughs] I got George in the start, so yes I’m a bit disappointed in this, but I will move on. It’s a positive result and we will work hard to get one more step in the coming races: that’s the target, and once again a good job by everyone in the team, a good car and a good result for a 1-2, so thanks to the ART boys for this.
GP3 Series: It was awfully close for a lot of the race, but you didn’t seem to be able to get a run on him: was that the case?
Anthoine: Yes, as you say I was almost every lap in the DRS zone, but I had to manage my DRS because Niko Kari and Alessio were behind me and also in the DRS zone, so it was a bit tough to manage. I was trying also to keep this advantage to be able to use it, and it was not easy: maybe I could have been a bit more aggressive with my DRS and used it to close up to George but it was a close situation, a close race, and I’m still happy with P2.
GP3 Series: After the VSC George said he was looking in his mirrors at you, and I guess you were probably looking in your mirrors looking at Alessio, as he was coming pretty fast…
Anthoine: Yes of course! Before the VSC it was Niko Kari who was behind me, quite far actually and I don’t know why really, but after the VSC I was of course looking to overtake George, but I also had to keep watching my mirrors because Alessio overtook Niko straight away, and in the last laps it was really about defence to Alessio, who was quite quick! [laughs] I was quite happy when I crossed the line to keep my P2!
GP3 Series: Great job today. Alessio, an amazing drive to come through the field, overtake Niko after the VSC and get on the podium: happy with your job today?
Alessio Lorandi: Yeah I’m happy, but not entirely because my first launch at the start was good, but then I checked my mirrors and I had to put 2nd gear but it didn’t happen, so I had a massive limiter issue and all the good work I did was gone. I got passed by Kari, I think Jack and nearly also by Dorian, so my first lap was not ideal! Then Nirei had the issue and I got through him, and from there on the pace was quite good: Jack was struggling a bit so I could easily stay with him and then overtake at the first chance, and then I just relaxed a little bit and thought I’ll let these guys play around a little and I’ll save my tyres: that was the aim, and I was staying with them without even pushing really. Then the VSC came and I was pretty pleased, because I managed to close a lot to Niko: it was quite a long VSC and as he said it was difficult to keep the oil and water temps, but also the brakes, but then I got a good restart with Niko, and I was quite pleased with that. I think I had really good pace and could fight for P2, and in my mind I wanted to go for the win as well, but when you get so close, especially into turn 1, it is not so easy: I made a couple of little mistakes which meant I couldn’t get closer or prevent Anthoine doing the P2, but he defended really well at Stowe and the chicane. But it’s great, P3 and the third podium of the season, and we’ve closed right up in the championship, although George has taken off a little bit. I will give it everything tomorrow: I know we’ve got the speed, and I’m going to go for it!
GP3 Series: It was one of the better VSC restarts I’ve seen: did you just nail it, did Niko make a mistake, or a combination of both?
Alessio: Thank you. I think I got it pretty much perfect, because I was just really focused on the panel, and when it was time I think I just had a slightly better reaction, and also because I had a bit of a slipstream from these guys, because I was on the outside and he was on the inside, so I had a massive run! He couldn’t defend from me because he was trying to come back, so that was good. That was a surprise actually, that he dropped back so far: I don’t know what happened to him, but it was great.
GP3 Series: You’ve got 3 podiums and a great start to the season, so what do you do now to move up: is it just qualy?
Alessio: For sure. Here we did better in qualy, but in Austria we didn’t manage to get all the temperatures right so we were out of the window, although it seems to me that I was driving quite well, but surely we lost a lot of points due to my unhappy start in race 2, but I’m still here! [laughs] We also had good pace there but I think these guys are quite strong in qualy, and also because they’ve got 4 drivers who push themselves and are also able to get a lot of data for qualy. But in the race we are pretty close, and I’m going to push as much as possible tomorrow and for the next races.