The second race of the Auto GP Portimão weekend saw Adrian Quaife-Hobbs clinch the fifth win of his season ahead of Chris Van der Drift and Sergey Sirotkin. Here is what they said in the post-race press conference.
Hat-trick, record number of wins in a single season, a huge championship lead. How do you feel after such a weekend? “It’s really difficult to say, too many emotions in just one weekend. I’m so happy, we really wanted this perfect weekend because we worked incredibly hard to achieve it. We knew that it was possible because in Hungary we were very close already, but unluckily I was ‘only’ 2nd in Race 2. Now we made it, and I feel that it’s the deserved prize for the SuperNova guys. From the start of the season they’re doing their best to give me a great car and everybody can see that they did a great job”.
On a track like this top speed is important and on the grid we saw that your car aero setup had less rear wing than most of your rivals. Was it important for the outcome of your race? “Definitely. We tried that solution in Qualifying but then we thought that in the race, with slipstream and some overtaking to do, it would have been much more useful. It didn’t take away any confidence from my driving and I could still go flat out through last corner anyway, so we decided to go that way. It was definitely a good idea, it gave that extra speed that made overtaking easier. It just overheated our tyres a bit towards the end of the race because I was sliding a bit, but it wasn’t a big issue”.
Chris Van der Drift
You were the only driver to start the race on new softs, two early Safety-Cars weren’t exactly what you had hoped for… “It completely ruined our strategy, because with new tyres we were planning to stop late and make the most of the extra grip. Instead we had to pit under Safety-Car like everybody else and I did put on used softs at the front. I think that even if Adrian was very quick we could have won a ‘normal’ race, but the SC changed all”.
You lost the lead at the second restart but then managed to defend 2nd place from Sirotkin’s attacks, how was it from the cockpit? “At the restart I really did underestimate the effect of the slipstream: I packed the group behind me before last corner, then I got a good acceleration through it and I thought that the gap was enough to be safe. I was wrong because people just flew past me, I wasn’t expecting that. Anyway it was fun because a couple of laps later I managed to do the same and I overtook Daniel and Campana in just one move, so it was just that effective on this straight. The fight with Sergey was good, he was close but I felt confident that I could keep him at bay, the car was behaving well, my rear tires were in good shape, so there was no drama”.
The second podium of the weekend must feel good, but the start of your race wasn’t an easy one… “I had a really bad start again, I nearly stalled and I ended up somewhere around P13. I had to make my way up trough the traffic and it wasn’t easy. I made contact with Varhaug but luckily I managed to continue even if it costed me some time. The team also did a good job with the pit-stop when the yellow flags were out, that was important too”.
You managed to put pressure on Van der Drift but it wasn’t enough in order to overtake. Did it seem possible from the car? “I always try if I have a chance to, but I knew it would have been difficult because my tyres were already gone at that moment. I was quick enough to stay close and make the most of a mistake by Chris if it was coming, but that wasn’t the case. When I realized that I wasn’t going to pass him I decided to back off a bit to save my tires, taking too many risks didn’t make any sense”.