It ain’t over until it’s over

20.09.2013

Monza has been a happy hunting ground for Kevin in the past but this was not the case in 2013

Penultimate GP3 round took place at Monza on September 7-8. Unlike some previous races Kevin managed to perform two excellent getaways but the outcome in form of points was lean for reasons not under his control. Sixth and fifth in races lifted Kevin to P3 in overall points standings but gap to the leading duo is worringly wide. Still, it is not over until the fat lady sings. And she will sing only in November at Abu Dhabi.

Ninth in qualification was not good by any means. How did it come?

Yeah, it could have been better. Poleman Kvyat was in the class of his own but P2-P6 were only one or two tenths faster than me. Thing was that I couldn’t drive a single flyer with my final tire set, yellow flags were out. And it was quite the same during the races, this time pace wasn’t good enough to fight for a win or Top 3 position. Maybe, just maybe if I could have put together a perfect lap in qually I could have been third on the grid, but this would have been a maximum of maximums. Perhaps there were also some other guys who couldn’t put together a good lap. In some ways Monza was similarto Spa – I was able to keep myself in Top 8, but victory was out of the reach.

How on earth was Daniil Kvyat able to dominate in the way he did?

All three Arden drivers were fast. Sainz couldn’t put a lap together but Robert Visoiu who usually qualifies outside Top 10 was second this time. Seemingly Monza suits them for some reasons.

Post-Spa you told you must change something with your starts and indeed, both your take-offs at Monza were good. Still you couldn’t benefit from them. How did it happen?

In first race there was a big mess in turn 1. The guy who started it came from two positions behind me. I gained two places at the start – overtaking Facu Regalia as well – and was already turning in into the first chicane when the crash occured in front of me, they was all over the track. So I had to drive around the debris while Regalia, Sims and some others shortcut the chicane and appeared in front of me again. So my good start brought no net gain: I entered turn 1 7th, three guys in front of me were left there but still I exited the turn only 6th.

Second time you started well again but this time the guy in front of you stalled.

Yes, Patrick Niederhauser managed to stall his engine and I had to drift around him in order to avoid crashing into the stationary car. It was this sideways driving which cost me a lot of positions.

From the TV it seemed you banged wheels with another car which tried to overtake you?

I simply tried to cover my line but it was too late because I had lost so much momentum. There was nothing I could do to prevent the overtaking. I guess wheels didn’t touch.

Later you had a nice little fight with Kvyat.

On lap 3 or 4 I overtook Sims and Kvyat followed me. First Sims was battling with Regalia and lost a spot and then I was able to outbrake him from the outside. Kvyat did the same and then I fighted with him for about six laps. Eventually he simply disappeared into the distance, I had no power to keep myself in his slipstream.

Hard tires were compulsory at Monza, how did they feel?

We has hard tires at Spa as well. This time tire degradation was low, I couldn’t feel them going off. Maybe it was down to the track character, we use very little downforc at Monza, there are long straights and only a couple of turns. Under braking tires don’t wear out so massively.

Kvyat figured in the lower part of Top 10 in the standings for the majority of the season but with final round remaining he is one of only two realistic title contenders. Are you surprised by his recent form?

He was P8 I guess, but then he gathered 42 points at Monza and 31 at Spa which makes 73 over two rounds. No, it is not surprise, but Regalia leading the standings in certainly surprising. There are many good drivers in GP3 – Kvyat, Sainz, Harvey, Daly, Ellinas were the ones tipped for the title but few would add Regalia to this list in the beginning of the year.

But he has the least number of zeroes?

Yeah, that’s true. Actually I have the same number, three non-scores, but I have had so poor starts. He somehow manages to go from 8th or 6th to 3rd very often and then keeps his position until the flag. I guess he has 100 percent striking rate this season, ART team has been very consistent through the year.

You are third in the standings but title chances remain very slim?

Yes, frankly speaking the chances are rather theoretical.

You have tested F1 car at Abu Dhabi and thus you are one of very few GP3 drivers familiar with the track. Do you see it as an advantage?

I think more important is to find a good set-up. Abu Dhabi is not the kind of Monte Carlo or Macau where track knowledge gives you an advantage. It is not extremely difficult, even if it has 16 or 17 turns compared to six at Monza.

Surprisingly you took the steering wheel of F3 car a few days after GP3 round at Monza. How did it happen?

I got the call on Tuesday morning to fly to Hockenheim, prepared myself during the night and was able to take the plane next day.

F3 car is almost only half of the GP3 on horsepower but judging on your lap-times the adaptation was not that difficult.

It was not easy. Cars are exact opposites. Our GP3 car has lots of power but not much downforce while F3 has no power at all but tons of aero. Formula Renault 3.5 car has also strong aero but it has also lots of power, so jumping from GP3 to F3 is even more difficult than swapping FR3.5 for F3. It was really funny: you can instantly floor the pedal when exiting the turn with no worries at all while we have to play with the throttle. But it was kind of cool, you have to adopt a very different driving style. With the GP3 car you turn in and then try to keep the car straight in order to accelerate hard while in F3 you must carry the speed through the corner.

Do you have some further plans concerning F3?

Maybe I can do the final round of Euro F3. Anyway, if I want to race at Macau I have to do some F3 race before.

 

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Youngest driver to win a race in Formula Renault 3.5 Series.

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