GP3 Series: Welcome to today’s GP3 Series press conference following Race 1 at the Circuito de Jerez. Joining us today is race winner Nirei Fukuzumi from ART Grand Prix. In second place, also from ART is George Russell and in third place we have Jack Aitken from ART too. Starting with you Nirei, congratulations. This is your second win of the season since Barcelona Race 1. That must feel pretty good…
Nirei Fukuzumi: Yeah I am so happy to win the race today. It’s been too long… The race was quite a simple one: I had a good start, nothing special. After that, I remained in the lead and I could manage the tyres until the end. The degradation was not so high for me and I could manage my pace. I have to say thank you to ART and to Honda, but also my family and my sponsors.
GP3 Series: What does this win mean to you after a challenging season?
Nirei: It is true that it’s been quite a difficult season for me. I had a good start in Barcelona, but then it was a bit more complicated: I missed out on pole positions, then I could not win the races… This win today wins a lot. I’ve overcome all of the obstacles and it makes me very, very happy.
GP3 Series: Looking ahead, you will be starting from P8 tomorrow. What can we expect for you?
Nirei: I still want to score good points. I think I have a good chance to fight for the podium if I make a good start and then if I can get in the DRS zones. If I avoid making mistakes and have a clean race, I believe we have the pace to fight for good points again. I will give my best and try.
GP3 Series: Thank you. Good job today. George, P2 from third on the grid. It all happened at the start for you. How was it from the car?
George Russell: I knew this circuit was going to be difficult to overtake so I knew if I wanted to pass Jack and to finish second I needed to do it as soon as possible. I saw an opportunity at Turn 2. Luckily, I made it stick and it was a fairly simple race from there really. As Nirei mentioned, we didn’t know how tyre degradation would play out so I was just managing the gap to Jack as I knew I probably would not have been able to pass Nirei for the lead. I just managed the gap and settled for second.
GP3 Series: Would you say you did not have the pace to challenge Nirei for the win today?
George: I went into this weekend with the number one goal of putting it on pole and winning Race 1. The second priority was to outscore my main rival in the standings and finish ahead of him, which is Jack. So after Turn 1 I knew Nirei had the lead. I put it in my mind that my main focus was to try and beat Jack and not lose any points in the Standings.
GP3 Series: Tomorrow, you will be starting again behind Jack. Your priority again will be to finish ahead…
George: Absolutely, that’s the case. But who knows? It’s going to be another long race. Usually we have quite a good race pace at ART so potentially we could move up as a team…
GP3 Series: Thank you. Jack, P3 and you are probably the least happy man in this room. How was the race for you?
Jack Aitken: Yeah like the guys said it was a pretty simple race. It’s very difficult to overtake here. We knew the start would be important. I got an okay start. To be honest, my aim was to win the race because I knew I had a points’ gap to make up. I tried to go around the outside of Nirei at Turn 1, but it didn’t come off. And then George came in just about at Turn 2. I’m not keen on crashing so I gave it to him. After that it was quite tricky to stay close within the DRS zone for a long time. Hopefully I can move up tomorrow and come back with more points. We got fastest lap today which is something. We’ve got a fast car so there is a chance for tomorrow.
GP3 Series: You also had to keep an eye for Daniel Ticktum behind you. How was that?
Jack: He was quite quick, yes, but I think he probably took too much out of his tyres so I knew that I could sort of just sit back and let him use the tyres and when it counted I could get some good exits. In the end it was not too much of a trouble. If it had been the whole race, it would have been a bit tiring!
GP3 Series: What is the plan for tomorrow?
Jack: I think that we know now how the tyres behave a little bit better so we can see if we can make some adjustments. And it’s just going to be about getting as many places as I can and have a clean race.