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  F1 Race-Preview


 

Indy Preview:

Indianapolis, built in 1909 as a test track for the Detroit car industry, is the world's oldest motor racing circuit still in use as well as the largest sporting arena with more than 250,000 permanent seats. It has hosted a grand prix since 2000. Ferrari have the best record, winning two out of three including last year's one-two finish. The 'Brickyard' combines half of the classic banked oval circuit, with cars reaching speeds of up to 210 mph on the longest straight in Formula One, and a twisty infield section. Turn one into the oval offers good overtaking possibilities. This is a track that requires a tricky compromise between high and low downforce settings. The key to success is a well-balanced car.

With the lack of an American team in Formula One, it could be considered Toyota’s home Grand Prix, having won the famed Indy 500 on the motor speedway's renowned oval back in May. The Indianapolis F1 track incorporates some elements of the high-speed oval, adding a twisty, low-speed infield section. These two distinct characteristics pose a unique challenge to teams as engineers and drivers strive to find the best compromise of downforce levels over the lap. At almost one kilometer in length, the final corner banking and pit-straight combine to produce the longest straight on the F1 calendar. Tony George, head of the Speedway corporation, and a descendent of the Hulman family that has steered the fortunes of the historic American track, pulled out all the stops to create a world-class racing circuit that could provide a permanent home for the US Grand Prix. In pursuit of that goal, he made radical changes to the original speedway by demolishing buildings, erecting a new pit complex and grandstands, and building today's challenging road course.

PREDICTION - Montoya to become first driver to win Indy 500 and U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis. McLaren hoping to pip Ferrari. But Michael Schumacher can secure his 6th World Title at this Grand Prix.

Cristiano da Matta is looking forward to heading to America for the United States Grand Prix on Sept. 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“For me,” da Matta said, “going back to the U.S. is going to be quite a thrill because I lived in the U.S. for six years, and I have many friends in the U.S. So for me it is not only to compete again in the U.S., but that I will be back in the U.S. to see my friends.”

After scoring seven victories en route to winning the 2002 CART championship, da Matta signed to drive for the Panasonic Toyota Racing team in Formula One this season.

It’s been a steep learning curve for the Brazilian, who celebrated his 30th birthday on Sept. 19.

“When you look back on your performance,” he said, “you can always feel that you have done better in some aspects. But overall I am happy. Of course, I wanted to be in better shape than I am, and there is always room for improvement. But the progress is going well. I still have to work a lot; I am still not close to what I wanted to be. The results have been OK, nothing that I think is fantastic, but overall I’m not unhappy.”

Da Matta scored his first F1 points in April when he finished sixth in the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. His best qualifying spot was a sixth in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone where he led 17 laps and eventually finished seventh. He also scored points when took sixth in the German Grand Prix. “Silverstone was my best qualifying,” da Matta said. “I started sixth, and it was the first time I led a F1 race. So Silverstone was a good one. It was not my best result, but the best weekend. Barcelona was good one, but Silverstone was the highlight.”

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the largest spectator sporting facility in the world, with more than 250,000 permanent seats. The Speedway plays host to three of the three largest-attended sporting events in the world: The Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, the Brickyard 400 and the SAP United States Grand Prix, which is the largest-attended race on the 13-turn, 2.605-mile Formula One circuit and set a modern-day attendance record for the series in 2000. Estimated attendance was more than 200,000. Sales so far guarantee that the Indianapolis event will continue to be the largest-attended Formula One race in 2003.

Juan Pablo Montoya won the 2000 Indianapolis 500 in runaway fashion, driving for Chip Ganassi, and then moved to Formula One in 2001 with BMW WilliamsF1. “I think it would mean a lot,” Montoya said about adding another victory at Indianapolis. “I have quite a memory of there.

Only four drivers – Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Emerson Fittipaldi and Mario Andretti – have won the Indianapolis 500 and the United States Grand Prix. But none of those drivers won the USGP at Indy, which made its debut in 2000. Jacques Villeneuve, winner of the 1995 Indianapolis 500 and the 1997 World Championship, said fans come to see much more than who will win the championship.

Olivier Panis – Car Number 20 Panasonic Toyota "The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of the most famous motorsport venues in the world and this gives it a very special ambience during the race weekend. The track itself requires a careful compromise of downforce levels to enable us to be quick enough along the very long pit-straight, whilst being competitive through the twistier and slower infield section. We found some interesting things at the tests last week, so I think we should be able to qualify in the top ten again. Then our priority must be to finish the race after the disappointing retirements in Hungary and Monza, hopefully with some points in the bag."

Cristiano da Matta – Car Number 21 Panasonic Toyota "I'm very excited about the US Grand Prix, as I haven't raced in the States since my CART days, although I have actually never driven at the Indianapolis Speedway. Of course, I have seen it many times on the television, but my race debut will be on Friday morning. I don't think it will be too difficult to learn the F1 track, because there is just the long straight and a combination of slow speed corners. On paper, it looks like it will be more of a challenge to set the car up to perform well along the straight, as well as through the slower infield section. Whatever happens, I am sure it will be a highly enjoyable weekend."

Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW Williams): “I am pleased to race at Indianapolis again. From a technical perspective, the Brickyard is a circuit that has got a lot of rhythm and so an important key to performing well in Indy is to have a well balanced car. The Speedway is also a good competitive circuit as it is very fast and strategy can come into play in the race outcome. I think it is probably one of the best circuits for overtaking, having such a long straight and turn one into the oval is an especially good place for passing. The trick is to get fairly close to the car in front of you by the end of the straight before trying to pass. The circuit also holds sentimental value for me as when I raced in CART my team was based here. I have good memories from then, as well as of course winning the Indy 500. I'm probably going to see all my ‘old’ friends out there, and we'll be sure to make it as entertaining as possible! It's going to be an interesting weekend for us. No doubt about it.”

Ralf Schumacher (BMW Williams): ” The long full-throttle sector in the parabolic corner suits our engine, but it will be very difficult to find the right compromise with the winding infield. I will fly out to the US a couple of days early in order to be acclimatised, relaxed and fresh.”

Sam Michael (Chief Operations Engineer, WilliamsF1): ”Indianapolis is completely different to any of the other circuits on the Formula One calendar. It has the longest straight with up to 23 seconds on full throttle, followed by tight and twisty corners, none of them high speed at all. Part of the Formula One circuit uses two corners from the oval track, but they are taken at full throttle, so are considered as part of the straight. The set-up of the car needs to be geared towards good traction for the slow speed exits and good braking stability. From a tyre point of view, the Michelin compounds will be competitive. The circuit layout demands maximum downforce for the infield and minimum drag for the straight. We are sure to see a variety of different wing levels tried throughout the weekend. The pit stop strategy should be interesting because there are plenty of overtaking opportunities.”

Nick Heidfeld (Sauber-Petronas): "I enjoy running at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which is a good mixture of very high speed motoring and an infield that is technical and requires a good car set-up. I'm really looking forward to racing there again. Indy has good memories for me. One of the best Formula One races I ever drove was there in 2001 when I lost first, second and seventh gears but still finished in the points in the C20. "From a set-up point of view Indianapolis is a tricky circuit. If you lean off the wing it then makes the infield challenging because that's so tight and demands plenty of downforce. You can lose 20 kph on the straight depending on what wing settings you use, so you can see why the way you set the car up is so important. "A thrilling thing is that you see all the spectators in those huge grandstands down the main straight. You just don't see things on that scale in Europe. "The C22 has been getting better with all the modifications the team has been introducing, so I am hoping for a good race."

Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Sauber Petronas): "Indianapolis is a special circuit, with a great atmosphere. The circuit has the longest straight that we have in Formula One, and it's great that part of it, albeit in the opposite direction, comprises the famous oval circuit. It's that, and the combination of the tight infield section, that gives it its unique character. A combination of high speed and history, mixed with all the pizzazz of Formula One. "I have some good memories of the place. In 2000 I had a wonderful dice with Jacques Villeneuve to keep him behind to the flag and finish on the podium, but off the track the city has some great attractions too. I particularly remember a fun trip we had to the zoo last year."

KIMI RAIKKONEN "Monza is not the track where we are the strongest and so I did the best I could do and our performance was not too bad considering. I am now looking forward to the US Grand Prix, where the characteristics of the MP4-17D will be more suited to the track than Monza, and we should perform better there. I need to get a good result as we are now at such a crucial stage of the Championship, and I will be driving flat out to try and achieve this. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has two very different sections and therefore a good mix of challenges. You go from the super fast banked corner and long straight into the twisty infield section, which leads to a compromise with set-up for the car to maximise performance over the entire lap. Although we drive in the usual clock-wise direction for Formula One, we race in the opposite direction to normal when the entire oval is used."

DAVID COULTHARD "After our fuel pump drive failure with eight laps to go at Monza, we spent two days testing at Barcelona and it proved to be a positive session for the team. Although Indy has some unique characteristics, primarily the banking, it also has similarities with the Circuit de Catalunya, for example the long main straight and range of corners. Therefore we have been able to conduct some race set-up work alongside our development programme. I always enjoy the United States Grand Prix, we are racing at such an historic venue, and have the animated atmosphere of the Indianapolis crowd, who are real racing enthusiasts. It is therefore fantastic that Formula One arrives at the Motor Speedway with both Championships so delicately poised. It is probably going to be a very gripping race weekend, which should befit this enthusiasm and demonstrate to America how exciting a sport Formula One is. The last couple of years I have finished on the podium, which I am aiming to repeat this year."

Jacques Villeneuve on Indianapolis "From the grid you have a long straight, which is a little bit bumpy, before braking heavily into the first corner. Turns 1 and 2 are a right-left corner combination, but are very difficult, firstly because the surface is bumpy so you can't see the track and secondly because you have a kerb in the middle of the track but where there's asphalt on each side you don't see where the turn is until you've actually slowed down. As a consequence it's very difficult, especially when you're overtaking someone. This opening right / left combination is not very exciting and Turn 3 is a normal corner, but the following right-hander, Turn 4, is quite exciting. You're actually braking while you're turning in, so you have to look at the apex rather than at your line, and that makes it difficult to judge how wide you are. You don't want to put two wheels on the grass while you're braking, and also it's very difficult to set the car up because you're not braking in a straight line.

Coming out of Turn 4 you accelerate through the Turn 5 kink, which is flat out. Now that we have traction control it's easy flat out, but you still want to have a good balance through there because as soon as you come out of the corner you have to hit the brakes for the left-hander, Turn 6, and you want to be in the middle of the track. You don't want to be too wide. Turn 6 and Turn 7 are weird corners. It's tight on the turn into 6, then it widens in the middle, then tightens again on the exit. It feels a little bit like a corner on a go-kart track because you enter it on the brakes, the car slides as you get a little bit wider, then you manage to bring the car back in, accelerating a little before hitting the brakes almost immediately again for 7. This is another right-hander and the line you had in the previous corner determines the line you'll have in this corner. Turn 7 is important because you have a straight after it that leads into heavy braking again on the approach to Turn 8, so there are some overtaking opportunities here.

Next you get into the ugly bit of the track: the tight 90-degree right-hander Turn 9, which is a little bit like Turn 1 because you don't see the corner because of the asphalt and the kerbs. Then you have a weird double hairpin, both taken at 60 kph. It's very slow - you don't even know what you're doing there with a Formula One car - it's boring! Because the lap was too short I guess they had to lengthen it time-wise, but it's really annoying! You come out of those corners and have short acceleration into Turn 11, a 90-degree mid-speed corner. It's a very, very important corner, because it gives you speed onto the main straight. It's also another difficult corner because again, you can't see the apex. It's just a kerb in the middle of the asphalt. After that it's flat out. You have a kink when you get onto the main Indianapolis oval, then you have the banked oval corner. Even though we're going at 280kph through it, it still doesn't feel like a corner. Finally, you have a very long straight onto the start/finish line.

It's not a bad track because you have to choose between low or high downforce, and you get a big draft on the long straight, so there's some good racing. It's nice to go to Indianapolis after Europe. It's enjoyable to race there - mostly because of all the American fans. The atmosphere outside the paddock is great. "

 
     

 
 

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