Q & A with Edoardo Mortara
|By Jonathan Noble||Saturday, November 15th 2008, 08:59 GMT|
This time last year, Edoardo Mortara was kicking himself for a silly mistake at the start of the qualification race that ruined his Macau Grand Prix weekend. Twelve months later and the Italian is preparing himself to line up on pole position for tomorrow's 55th running of the event.
There was no mistake this time as he controlled Saturday's race at a canter while several of his expected rivals fell by the wayside.
He told autosport.com about what he's learned from last year's experience and gave his thoughts ahead of tomorrow's race.
Q. That win was exactly what you wanted, wasn't it?
Edoardo Mortara: "Of course! I was expecting to be competitive here, but it is always the problem of staying out of trouble. Here, I think the idea in this qualification race is to stay away from problems and not make any mistakes.
"It is my second year in Macau and I know quite well that if you want to win and if you want to do a good result then you have to do a perfect weekend from the beginning. So I came here with this idea and I am trying to do my best. So let's see tomorrow if we can do something good. I really hope I can remain in first."
Q. What happened at the start, as you were already up to second before Lisboa?
EM: "My start was good and my reaction time was good. I had a bit too much wheelspin, but I think it was pretty good. I tried to take the slipstream of the TOM'S cars and I overtook Carlo (van Dam) on the main straight. I was second and I looked in the mirrors and there was nobody close to me, so I moved to the inside to try to take the corner quite safely. Even so, I almost hit the barrier because the track was really slippery and I had a moment.
"Then at the (safety car) restart I had a moment with (Roberto) Streit because I was not feeling very comfortable on the first lap with the tyres. I am not happy with how we warm up the tyres, so the first laps were quite difficult. But when it started to be okay we were really comfortable."
Q. At the restart, you got very close to Kunimoto and overtook him into Lisboa. Yesterday you were saying the TOM'S cars were quite quick on the straight, but today it didn't look like it.
EM: "Of course, but you have to take into consideration that it is a one kilometre long straight and I exited the last corner faster, and really close to him, so it was normal I could overtake him.
"If you see the video of the race you see that I overtake him at the end of the last straight, so you can imagine how good the TOM'S car is. I was a little bit careful overtaking him because I don't know him so well, so I didn't know if he could brake later than me. In the end I didn't brake so late, it was the first attempt just to see what I could do and I was a little bit surprised that he braked quite a bit earlier than me and I could pass him so easily.
"Let's see tomorrow but I am comfortable - I will try to make a good start with good reaction time and then try to stay out of trouble. This will be the key."
Q. And there is only one TOM'S car in the top ten as well, which must be good news?
EM: "To be honest, I was really surprised about Kunimoto because on the first laps the track was slippery. He was pushing so hard and he was driving really well. I was behind him and I was not expecting him to be that fast in the first laps. I was quite surprised.
"I tried to stay with him and when things started to be okay, I saw that after the first few laps I was faster than him and closing the gap, so then I could overtake him quite clearly."
Q. How much was the experience of last year (crashing out on the first lap) playing on your mind in the build-up to the race?
EM: "A big one! It was a big, big thing. It is why experienced drivers go so well here, and why it is also difficult for the rookie drivers because even if you are fast, like I was last year, you have to understand some things.
"For example, today's race is not that important. Last year I made a silly mistake at the first braking at Lisboa and I crashed the car. I didn't really want to overtake (Sebastien) Buemi at the time, but I was surprised by the speed and by all the cars that were around me - so I made a silly mistake. This year it is all different, so I know what is going on and I can react well."
Q. How comfortable do you feel for tomorrow? You now appear to be the clear favourite with van Dam out of contention?
EM: "You know, I don't know what happened to him, but we don't have to forget that Kunimoto and Streit are quick, and the others are pushing also. It is going to be difficult if I don't have a good start, because then I will be battling with the others.
"So really, I think tomorrow the main thing is to stay out of trouble, like today. I had a good start and everything worked perfectly because I took the slipstream on the main straight and I could arrive at the braking for Lisboa quite safely. If it is like this tomorrow then I think I have a good chance to do a good result. But if I do a bad start and the others overtake me, then it is going to be more difficult."