Barcelona roller-coaster

12.05.2013

After several downs and ups Kevin's first competitive weekend in GP3 series ended on the positive note.

The first-ever GP3 round for Kevin didn't start well. He was only 22nd during the only practice session on Friday but the pace was not a concern as Koiranen team was doing race simulation. Much worse was the ten-place grid penalty for Saturday's race - stewards deemed Kevin was not lifting enough under yellow flags.
The penalty could have ruined the whole weekend but then Kevin hit back. Fastest time in qualification, then hard-fought P8 in race 1 which earned him a pole for race 2 and finally P2 with the fastest lap and two bonus points from there. All in all not perfect, but a good result anyway. After first two rounds Kevin is P5 in standings with 18 points and his team Koiranen GP is the leader in team's classification. And this is how Kevin himself saw the events.

Are you satisfied with your first GP3 weekend?

When I got penalized after Friday’s free practice there was virtually no hope to earn any points. The maximum we hoped from qualification was P5 or P6 which would have meant P15 or P16 on the grid. Trying to finish in points from such a position would have been very difficult under any circumstances, and almost impossible in Barcelona.

But then you went fastest in the qualification.

Yes, the best time from qualification was a great surprise for me and for the team as well. Everything just clicked together very well and it gave us opportunities for the rest of the weekend. Eighth from race 1 and pole position for race 2 were absolute maximum we could hope for. OK, I could and should have won Sunday’s race but otherwise it was almost perfect.

Did you missed your start on Sunday?

No. I got a decent start as almost everybody else around me. Only my team-mate Aaro Vainio somehow managed to time his getaway to perfection and jumped to the lead.

You two drove away from followers quite easily but did you have any chance to overtake Vainio?

In the first part of the race it was very easy to keep his pace. I could have had a go but I didn’t know what happened behind us, how far are the chasers. So I kept the gap to Vainio but during final 5-6 laps it became increasingly difficult.

On Sunday Koiranen cars seemed to be very easy on their tires despite better laptimes.

There was nothing to do with the speed, our tires were really going away towards the end. Nick Yelloly managed to take P3 at the start, but for some reasons he had no pace this time. Fortunately he was able to keep other drivers behind him for quite a long and we could drive away. But we noticed some competitors managed their tires very well and had a great pace over last laps.

Tires were big concern before the season but looking from outside the situation was not that bad.

On Saturday my best lap was 1:37 but during last laps I could only post 1:42s. OK, maybe I was not that bad on my tires like Sainz or Kvyat, but five seconds is still a huge drop-off. I was only defending my position during last seven laps.

There was also a scary moment in the final stages.

I was holding all-important P8 [to take pole for Sunday’s race], there was a big gap in front and Dino Zamparelli was all over me trying to find an chance overtaking. He got a run on me, but I hold inside line and he simply hit me from behind. He obviously thought I will return to the racing line but I defended till the turn-in and he had nowhere to go. Impact was strong enough to break his front suspension and I was really surprised to go away with no harm done. OK, car was maybe not immaculate, but still good.

How does the driver feel with those tires?

Basically you can have no hot laps at all, you must think about managing your tires from the moment lights go off. If you destroy your tires it is not cool at all but if you manage to keep them working and all others around you are struggling, then it feels rather cool.

Still, it will become even more difficult. We drove on hard-compound tires in Barcelona but one can only imagine what will happen with medium or soft compound we are obliged to use during some rounds.

Next GP3 races in Valencia on June 15-16 are not a part of Grand Prix weekend but a stand-alone event.

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