Preview 24 Heures du Mans
INTERVIEW WITH LOIC DUVAL
With just a few days to go to the start of the Le Mans 24-Hours week Loïc Duval, who set the fourth-quickest time at the test day last Sunday, has finished his training programme and is ready to cope with the days to come!
Loïc, what information can we glean from the test day last Sunday?
LD: “In terms of sheer performance we weren’t too surprised by the final standings. It’s more or less what we were expecting. The only surprise was Porsche’s position as we thought they’d be quicker. Our car’s lovely to drive, in particular in the series of fast corners where it feels like it’s glued to the track!”
How have you trained for this race?
LD: “From a physical point of view I haven’t changed my programme. A few years back I used to eat a lot of blueberries before Le Mans as they were supposed to improve night vision. I didn’t notice any difference so I stopped. From a technical point of view I speak to Tom Kristensen and Lucas di Grassi a lot on my Smartphone: we exchange ideas. We’ve also set up a little group with some of the engineers and we organise meetings through Skype.”
Do you think you can win Le Mans again this year?
LD: “Of course! Given the results of the test day clinching pole will be difficult even though we’ll give it a go. Taking this situation into account we’ve really concentrated on our race, our fuel consumption and how we can reduce tyre wear. We’ve also done a lot of work on our possible reactions in case of a brutal change in the weather conditions or if the race is interrupted by the safety car. That’s where you can really win Le Mans.”
The speed difference between a GT and LM P1 looks enormous. Is it something to worry about?
LD: “Not necessarily. First of all it seems to me that this year the GT drivers are far more aware of the speed difference; they’re more careful. Then our car has a rear-view camera, which enables us to see when we can pull in after passing. It’s pretty useful. And for the first time this year we’re using laser headlights so it’ll be impossible not to see us! But that doesn’t mean we can relax our vigilance.”
Should your car win France will be on level pegging with Great Britain in terms of victories for drivers per nationality at Le Mans. Is that an extra motivation?
LD: “Ha, ha! Not at all. But it’d be a nice little bonus to clinch this statistic!”
Daniel Ricciardo wins in Canada!
That was a big battle all the way through today! I had a tough start but I was able to defend in the first few corners and fight against Lewis. The race went smoothly for a while then both cars suddenly lost the MGU-K system and a lot of power which was really tough. Then I lost some time in the second pit stop which let Lewis jump me and I was struggling to cool the rear brakes down so it was all happening. Towards the end of the race, I tried to defend against Sergio which was fine but Daniel was too fast on the straights with much more power than I had available and he was able to get past. With so much going on, I had to ask my engineer where I finished at the end as I thought I was probably about fifth or sixth. I was so happy to hear that I was in P2! They are important points for me in the championship, so it was a tough but ultimately good day. Congratulations to Daniel for his first Formula One win.
Yves Matton, Team Principal, Citroën Racing: “I think the races at the Moscow Raceway were particularly captivating for the crowd, with plenty of hard- and fairly-fought battles. Before the season started, I set the team the target of all our drivers winning a race. We have now met that challenge, with Ma Qing Hua adding his name to the list of winners. The first win by a Chinese driver in an FIA World Championship race is an historic moment, which is likely to boost China’s interest in motorsport in general and in WTCC in particular. This has been a really positive weekend for us, with all four of our drivers producing solid performances, and all of them making it onto the podium.”
José-María López: “Even after starting from pole position, I didn’t feel comfortable, as I knew that the Civics would make a strong start. Once again, I didn’t get away brilliantly, but I managed to cling on to the lead. I then attacked hard to pull away. It’s always satisfying to win a race like that, when you are rewarded for a good performance. I wasn’t quite as successful in race 2, but that happens. I’ll leave Moscow with the same lead in the championship standings, so it’s been a positive weekend for me.”
Ma Qing Hua: “First of all, I’d like to thank every member of the team, who did everything they could to help me make quick progress. It wasn’t easy arriving in the middle of the championship, and we’ve worked really hard to make sure I was up to the task. The races were pretty lively. I had to fight hard to move up the field, particularly to get past Norbert Michelisz. I hope that I can continue in the same vein in the future.”
Yvan Muller: “After a frustrating time in qualifying, I managed to limit the damage by scoring as many points as Pechito. It’s a shame I was hit by another driver at the start of race 2, as I could have won it. I came back at Ma at the end of the race, but I would have needed a few more laps to try and get past him.”
Sébastien Loeb: “I spent the first race on the tail of Gabriele Tarquini, but he just didn’t slip up at all. So I ended up third, which is a good result. In race 2, I made a mistake and dirtied my tyres, but I attacked hard to recover. Fifth place isn’t the ideal result, but it does earn me some valuable points.”
1. José-María López (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
2. Gabriele Tarquini (Honda Civic WTCC)
3. Sébastien Loeb (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
4. Yvan Muller (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
5. Tom Chilton (Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1)
6. Ma Qing Hua (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
7. Tiago Monteiro (Honda Civic WTCC)
8. Tom Coronel (Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1)
9. Norbert Michelisz (Honda Civic WTCC)
10. Rob Huff (Lada Granta 1.6T)
FL: José-María López – 1:40.148
1. Ma Qing Hua (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
2. Yvan Muller (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
3. Mehdi Bennani (Honda Civic WTCC)
4. Tom Coronel (Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1)
5. Sébastien Loeb (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC)
6. Tom Chilton (Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1)
7. Norbert Michelisz (Honda Civic WTCC)
8. Gianni Morbidelli (Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1)
9. Hugo Valente (Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1)
10. René Munnich (Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1)
FL: Hugo Valente – 1:40.742
DRIVERS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1. José-María López 209 pts
2. Yvan Muller 168 pts
3. Sébastien Loeb 161 pts
4. Tiago Monteiro 105 pts
5. Gabriele Tarquini 96 pts
12. Ma Qing Hua 33 pts
MANUFACTURERS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Citroën Total 502 pts
2. Honda 333 pts
3. Lada 165 pts
2014 CANADIAN GRAND PRIX – QUALIFYING
Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton took first and second place respectively in qualifying for tomorrow’s Canadian Grand Prix.
– The result also gives the team a third consecutive one-two in qualifying after the Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix
– Nico claimed his third pole position of the season, edging his team-mate by just 0.079 seconds
– This marks the 24th pole position for the Silver Arrows in Formula One
It´s been a great weekend so far and I´m really pleased with how I have been able to improve my set-up from session to session. Even before Qualifying we made some quite big changes and they worked out perfectly. So I am very happy with starting from pole tomorrow. That was very important as there aren´t many opportunities to overtake here, particularly if you are in the same car. I think it will be a battle between the two of us out there tomorrow as the gap to the other cars was quite big in Qualifying today and also on our long runs on Friday were strong. This is a such a good track here in Montreal and the fans create a special atmosphere so I hope we can put on a great race tomorrow for them.
Nico did a fantastic lap but it wasn’t the greatest qualifying session for me because I went wide a couple of times on my lap, in turns six and eight. It was very close, with just eight hundredths of a second in it, but Nico did the better job this afternoon. It’s great for the team that we have a one-two on the grid but I am expecting it to be a tough race: it’s not that easy to overtake here, especially in the same car and with Nico being so close on pace. I will do what I can tomorrow and we will be trying to score as many points as we can. I also want to say something about this amazing weekend in Canada. It’s one of the best races of the year, especially because of the fantastic fans who make the atmosphere something special. We love coming here and I hope we can put on a great race tomorrow.
It was a really exciting qualifying session, seeing how closely the two drivers were matching each other all the way through. They are pushing each other so hard and, between every part of qualifying, they were looking at overlays of their laps, checking the data and trying to find every little advantage. Nico delivered a perfect Q3 and actually did two laps fast enough for pole position. Lewis lost some time in the middle sector of his final lap and finished less than a tenth behind, which just goes to show there is no room for error when two drivers are fighting on such a high level. It feels like the other teams will give us a hard run tomorrow so it won’t be an easy race. But the priority, like always, is to make sure a Silver Arrow wins.
That was another very close qualifying between Nico and Lewis. They were pushing each other right the way through each of the three sessions but, in the end, Nico put together better laps in Q3 and took pole by just eight hundredths of a second. It was great to get another all-Mercedes front row and to have both drivers performing at such a high level. Looking ahead to tomorrow, we’re hoping for dry weather and looking to get through what is always a very tough race. Tyres, brakes and managing fuel consumption will be the big challenges.
F1 DRIVERS CANADIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW
Jenson Button:“I really enjoy the Canadian Grand Prix – it’s one of those races where everything just feels right. The city is fantastic, the fans are friendly, loyal to the sport and incredibly supportive, the track is intense, and the racing is usually pretty hectic. It’s a place that simply produces great Formula 1.
“It was a positive for the whole team to put some points back on the board at Monaco after a difficult few races; we’re obviously still far away from where we want to be, but it’s important that we maintain our aim of continuous development throughout the whole season. Although we’re still a long way from the leaders, we’ve matched the general rate of development since the start of the season, which is a positive.
In Canada, the weather can always play a key role – the forecast currently looks good, but you never know when you pull back the curtains in the morning whether you’re going to be faced with blue skies, or grey clouds and pelting rain. We’ll probably get a bit of both next week.”
The Canadian Grand Prix is one of those races I’m really looking forward to: I’ve always watched it on TV, and it’s always looked like one of the very best, most enjoyable, and most dramatic events of the season.
“The track looks like a lot of fun; it’s got a good blend of corners, and it’s the kind of place where you want the car nicely hooked up and beneath you because, apart from the back straight, it’s pretty much always changing direction. So it’s a bit like Monaco in that respect, but a lot faster.
“It would be nice to have a straightforward weekend after a couple of disappointing technical problems. Things didn’t quite go my way in Spain or Monaco – through no fault of my own – so I just want to get my head down, work with my engineers and work on delivering a good result, with no mishaps.
“I think it’ll actually be interesting to see what we can achieve without encountering a problem that sets us back.
Do you have good memories of Montréal?
I have very good memories from 2012 when I went from seventh on the grid to my first second place in Formula 1. It was a really great day and it was really a strong team result as we used a one-stop strategy to get on the podium after a disappointing qualifying session the day before. Last year wasn’t so good and we struggled with the wet weather and conditions but the place itself? Montréal is a wonderful city to visit. There are obviously a lot of French speakers so it’s like another home race for me, and the fans are so welcoming and knowledgeable. There are also some very good restaurants in Montréal which is always a bonus.
How much of a challenge is the Gilles Villeneuve circuit?
Montreal is in-between a normal circuit and a street circuit. The walls are very close in some places, while other parts are similar to a European circuit. It’s definitely unique and we normally bring a different downforce package for that reason, which adds another unknown factor to the weekend. The circuit is not used for the rest of the year so the grip will change a lot – something we’ll have to adapt to – and the weather can also be tricky. Hopefully it’ll be nice and sunny because it’s a race I really like – and it’s my favourite circuit to race on the Xbox. The last chicane is a notable feature and overall it’s a good track.
What is it about street or street-esque circuits that you like?
I enjoy the sensation of being close to the walls. Montréal is different from Monaco as there are some long straights and some big braking moments. The track surface can also present challenges as we’ve seen in other seasons, so it will be interesting to see what the grip level is like this year and that will certainly be on your mind as you take to the track for the first time over the weekend.
How would you sum up Monaco given that the car wasn’t reacting as you wanted, but you still matched your best result of the year?
The start of the Monaco Grand Prix was a nightmare because I was hit on the first lap and suffered a puncture. Then I was stuck in traffic and couldn’t overtake. Of course when you have a predictable car with plenty of grip it is easy to attack, but we struggled to find a base set-up and it clearly wasn’t good enough in the race. But anything is possible in Monaco, we didn’t give up and managed to recover from 19th to 8th. We scored points and we know where to improve the car, which is not quick enough in low speed corners and certainly we’re trying to get more power for Canada too!
And the high speed corners?
They are not a concern. The aerodynamics are stable and the power unit management is getting better so now we are more focussed on the suspension side. Last year we had a very good car in that aspect, so we’ll compare the E22 with the E21 and possibly revert to some previous settings to make it better at low speed. I believe our downforce is pretty good so it’s mechanical grip we’re after. Even at Monaco we improved the car, even if it didn’t look like it on the timesheets.
In previous seasons the car was good out of the box, while the E22 has required a lot of development. How does that change things in terms of your approach?
It’s always easy to go quick when the car is good. You just have to concentrate on your driving. When the car is a bit more tricky you have to think about your driving and what the car is doing, because it can react unpredictably. Add to that all the different systems management we now do in the car, it becomes a real mental test! That’s not ideal for Monaco, so it was a very demanding Grand Prix, but at other tracks with more margin for error you can push more. I’m happy we made it to eighth at Monaco and we go to Canada with more confidence.
“Race seven is Montreal in Canada, one of the most popular races of the year and one where the weather can play a very big part in the race. At the moment the forecasts look dry For Friday, Saturday and Sunday but if that changes it could definitely be in our favour and we need to make sure we’re ready to take anything that comes our way. I was in the factory last week to start preparations for Canada and even though Monaco didn’t end for me as we’d planned, despite us doing everything we could, everyone is still fighting harder than ever. Crazy races like we had last week don’t come too often, but when they do we need to be ready and after talking to a lot of the team last week I know that they are all focused on making progress, not looking back at what might have been.
“On track Canada is a good place to go racing. The local fans are very passionate and knowledgeable – seeing the whole track full on a Thursday with people really excited about F1 being back is great as it shows just what it means to them to have us race in their home town, and that’s good for everyone in the sport. I’ve had a couple of points finishes in Canada in 2011 and 2012 and it would obviously be cool to have the same again this year – as I say, that will probably take a crazy race but if that happens I’ll be prepared ready, as will the whole team.”