Norris, Russell and Albon discuss their thoughts after the session
FIA Formula 2: Hello and welcome to the driver’s press conference following qualifying for the FIA Formula 2 feature race in Bahrain. We are joined by polesitter Lando Norris, in second place is George Russell for ART Grand Prix, and in third place is Alexander Albon for DAMS. Lando, pole on Carlin’s return to Formula 2. This must feel like a dream start.
Lando Norris: It was never a dream, the team have worked extremely hard since we came back; it wasn’t the easiest of qualifying sessions, I must say. To start pole for the first race is a big confidence booster, not just for me but also for the team, it’s the best way to start but there’s still a long way to go. But as I said, it’s just a big boost for me and for the team.
FIA Formula 2: Your lap was very impressive in the first two sectors, before going off at the final corner. When you were sat in the car, did you think you’d blown it?
Lando: Er, yeah! Well, I knew my lap time but I didn’t know how well George did. As I went over the line, I apologised to the team because I thought I messed up badly, but then my engineer said I was P1 for the moment so I was pretty surprised. Like you said, sector one and sector two were good, but then I got a bit eager in the final corner and screwed it up in some ways. Not bad enough to lose first, but I still lost a fair bit of time. It would have been nice to make a good lap, I’m not the happiest of guys when I don’t do a lap I’m not happy with, and although I was P1 I wasn’t happy with how I did.
FIA Formula 2: George, coming to you. Lando says he wasn’t happy even though he got P1 today. You were sat at P1 for a long time. What were your emotions after that?
George Russell: Yeah, obviously a little bit disappointed that I missed out on pole position. It’s always a risk running in the middle of the session, the track’s always getting faster and faster with more grip going down and the temperature getting cooler as well. We saw what happened last year in the qualifying session, and there was much less of a risk in running it. Nevertheless I’m happy with it, I think Bahrain’s always a circuit where qualifying is not important at all. We’ve seen that the tyre deg is really high, and you can win from probably anywhere inside the top ten. I’m feeling happy and confident going into the race tomorrow, and as Lando said it’s a long season and a long way to go, so I’m pleased to be sat up here.
FIA Formula 2: You mentioned the timing of your run. When you were sat in the car watching Lando do his lap and everyone else finish the session, what was it like not being able to respond?
George: Yeah it was frustrating, just sat there and there was nothing I could do. But that’s part and parcel of running in the middle and we knew we’d be in that position. But like I said, justp leased to be on the front row for tomorrow.
FIA Formula 2: Alexander, coming to you. Third place for your first race with DAMS. Is this an encouraging start to this new partnership?
Alexander Albon: Yeah, definitely, it was a tough test to be honest – two weeks ago, we were struggling quite a lot. But we had good race pace, we were kind of banking on that, but we did want to improve our qualifying pace and I think the team did a pretty good job to be honest; we assessed where we were slow and found a solution to that pretty quickly. We were on the pace already for free practice, and then quali again, I think all of us could have improved our lap times a little bit – myself included, but I’m happy to be here ready for the race.
FIA Formula 2: You’ve got a full year’s experience in Formula 2 over these guys, even though it is a new car, but are you hoping that this experience will help you out tomorrow?
Alexander: Sure, I did do the race last year so I know the kind of feeling that it has and that it’s easy to overtake in that sense as well. It should be good, there’s quite a few quick guys behind us who are good at race pace too, so it won’t just between the guys to my right, I think there’ll be some other guys involved as well.
FIA Formula 2: Thank you very much, and Lando, returning to you: we’ve got the reigning Formula 3 champion and the reigning GP3 champion side by side on the run down to Turn 1. Will this be the start of a season-long rivalry between you two?
Lando: I’m sure it is! We’re both very good drivers, and like Alex said, it’s not just between us three but there’s other drivers who are very strong. In the long run, I’ve got to have good qualifyings, good results, so I think it’s all about consistency, making sure you don’t make any mistakes, even if you have to concede a position or two, it’s always better than crashing. There’s a long way to go, and a lot of people who can do well in the championship. We just need to try and take advantage of the first race and go from there really.(fiaformula2.com/arl/wto)