FIA WTCC Race of Qatar
30 November-1 December 2017, FIA World Touring Car Championship, Rounds 19 and 20 of 20
Press Conference Room, Media Centre, Losail International Circuit, 16h15, 1 December
Esteban Guerrieri, Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team, DHL Pole Position Award winner
Nicky Catsburg, Polestar Cyan Racing, second position
Rob Huff, ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, third position, fastest in WTCC Trophy
Alexander Murdzevski Schedvin, Polestar Cyan Racing, winning WTCC MAC3 representative
Turning to Esteban Guerrieri, your first DHL pole position, which makes you the seventh different pole-sitter of 2017, it’s also pole number 11 for Honda and it’s fifth of the year after what liked a very impressive lap. Please talk us through it from your perspective?
First of all, I’m going live on Instagram so this is a very good point! Basically it was a very good Thursday/Friday so far for all of us, all the team until the problem Norbi had in Q2. He just couldn’t manage a quick lap and then he was out of the top 10 so it wasn’t mean to be. I am quite gutted for this, we have obviously one goal in common as a team and we’re still going to push because it’s not over of course although it’s more difficult. But in my own performance was great, the car and track actually changed a lot with more heat from the sun. It was a very different balance, very difficult to drive with the rear with the understeer on exit I had to manage my driving style like I think everybody did to readapt a little bit. Little tweaks here and there with the car and we managed to put a very good lap in Q3 and I’m very pleased for that, very happy for my first pole position in WTCC and we will see what we can do in the races.
We’ll come next to Alexander Murdzevski Schedvin of Polestar Cyan Racing, winner of WTCC MAC3 here in Qatar, a result that increases the team’s championship lead to 16.5 points. From that perspective Alexander a very satisfactory afternoon for you?
Yesterday we felt a little bit that we needed to improve our pace. Whatever you need to do over a weekend you can focus a lot on strategy back and forth but trying to get your car to be quickest is probably the best strategy so this was a lot of work done overnight to try to improve that and very satisfying of course today that we were on the pace with thousandths of a second between the drivers to Q3 is more a mental gamble than anything else. But we are in a good position. I don’t know if it’s the first time we do all three cars in Q3 so it’s important also for the Manufacturers’ championship and obviously going through with a win in MAC3 is very satisfying especially as everybody has pulled through overnight to improve the car so we’re really happy now.
But there was a moment in Q2 when things looked quite dramatic for your team. You must have been watching when Thed and Yvan collided. Just explain what was said and what happened?
Actually I haven’t asked yet but if it’s good for TV then, okay, we forgive them!
But it can’t be good for your heart rate Alexander, I would imagine?!
It wasn’t part of the plan for sure! But the way compliments to the fastest guy on the track today!
Turning next to Nicky Catsburg, second place here in Qatar and just missing out on the pole position by four-tenths of a second. Was there anything you could have done differently on your lap or was that the maximum you could give?
I guess there’s always little things you can improve but four-tenths is a bit too far away so great job to Esteban, I think he was the quickest today, even though I would love to say I could have easily gone faster but I couldn’t. Like Esteban said the track had changed a lot, the conditions were very different and we had to adjust our driving styles a lot. It was difficult but I’m super-happy to be P2.
Coming next to Rob Huff, third overall and the fastest WTCC Trophy driver on the back of your excellent victory in Macau. Please explain your qualifying?
Yeah, first of all well done to everyone here and a fantastic lap by Esteban. Nicky got me by the smallest margin we’ve probably seen this year. It was a good lap and there’s always room for improvement but with the track it’s difficult to really string the perfect lap together. Esteban proved when you get it right it’s very rewarding and you get a good margin. We’ve been improving the car all weekend, getting more and more confident and getting more and more pace. But we’re just pleased to be at the front for the last round of the year.
Turning back to Esteban, obviously qualifying was fantastic but MAC3 didn’t quite go Honda’s way. What happened?
To be honest I don’t know exactly what happened to Norbi but I know he had some brake problems. His brakes stuck in the disc and they wouldn’t come back to a normal position in Q2. For MAC3 he still had the problem and we were told not to push so the guys must have seen a problem in his brake system so it was not worth to risk it or something and we just had to cruise around to collect the points. Obviously congratulations to Volvo. Of course we would have loved to have given a proper fight on track but we still have the race to do that.
Questions from the floor:
Question from Neil Hudson, TouringCarTimes.com (Sweden) to Nicky Catsburg and Esteban Guerrieri: Obviously your role is to help Thed and Norbert in the championship battle. Given Norbi is down in P11 and Thed P4, how do you see that playing out this evening?
I see it not as we pictured it before qualifying to be honest. We could picture a very good potential from both of us but now, unfortunately, he is even out of the top 10. It is like it is and we now have to come up with a plan and of course race. There is not much difference, we have to try to race and do our best for Norbi. If somehow I can help I will try to do but racing is going to be racing like always.
I fully agree with Esteban. The qualifying changed the scenario a little bit but still, in any case, I need to help Thed, let him pass or whatever, we will do everything to win both championships and the same goes for Esteban. We want to win the championships and we’re in a good position to do both.
Question from Michael Bräutigam, Motorsport Aktuell (Germany) to Alexander Murdzevski Schedvin: You could have easily given Thed one more point in qualifying but why didn’t you, are you trying to play fair or are you concentrating on maximum manufacturer points?
I think you said it. I am employed by a manufacturer so it’s obviously my job to fight for the manufacturer above and beyond everything else. Obviously if we can come for the pole and take the points in qualifying you’re going to use all three cars to try to do that regardless of who it is. And basically that’s what we tried to do. But there were two guys who did a really good job today also so we did not manage but but we still are very happy with the progress we had from yesterday with the speed of the car. That’s behind all of the results for our sake at least.
To be honest I want to congratulate on that attitude because it’s remarkable to go for a pole rather than give two points to Thed so very good, I like that one.
World Touring Car Championship
WTCCRace of QatarWTCCSEASON 2017SportCircuit1SportWorld Touring Car ChampionshipCircuitWTCCSEASON 2017WTCCRace of Qatar00Friday, December 1, 2017 – 8:13pmFriday, December 1, 2017 – 8:13pm