INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2000 -- The most famous name in Formula One picked up some tips from one of the current stars of NASCAR racing when SKF, Ferrari and Roush Racing staged a press conference at the IMS Productions facility on ...
INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2000 -- The most famous name in Formula One picked up some tips from one of the current stars of NASCAR racing when SKF, Ferrari and Roush Racing staged a press conference at the IMS Productions facility on Brickyard Plaza.
Ferrari won its most recent FIA Formula One World Championship race at Imola just 10 days ago and is second in the Drivers' and Constructors' standings. Roush Racing star Jeff Burton is currently second in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings, and he also won the last time out at New Hampshire International Speedway.
While Formula One is making its first-ever appearance at the home of North American motor racing, 33-year-old Burton was modest about what he could teach Ferrari Technical Director Ross Brawn and his colleagues from Grand Prix racing's most fabled team.
"I'll only confuse them!" said Burton as he drew comparisons between these two very different forms of motor racing. "I'll start by saying that Ross just said this is the highest-banked track that they have. But this is the lowest-banked track that we have. I'll only confuse the issue by even attempting to help these guys!" Technical questions are one matter, driver behavior another, and Burton did have some useful words of advice for the F1 contingent on that score. "What I think American race fans like to see," he said, "is competitive spirit. American race fans like to see emotion, they like it when the drivers don't like each other, they enjoy it when the teams have rivalries. To capture the American fans, the drivers just have to be emotional and just themselves." Brawn had his own recent experience of driver emotion when Ferrari star Michael Schumacher wept openly after his Monza victory in front of the ecstatic Italian fans. But the cool Englishman with the reputation of F1's finest strategist stuck to his impressions of the track and how Schumacher and teammate Rubens Barrichello may react to racing here. "What is unusual for us in Formula One has to do with a banked circuit," he said. "It's a long time since we ran on a banked circuit, and that brings some special requirements. "We have to run the tires at a higher pressure than we normally run. We have to deal with suspension loads, and we'll have 24 seconds of full throttle, which is the longest in Formula One and very hard on the engines." Pressure on engines and how to deal with it is what SKF handles, and Tom Johnstone, executive vice president and director of SKF Automotive and Seal Division, was quick to point out the mutual benefits of the firm's relationship with both Ferrari and Roush Racing.
"Our relationship with Ferrari goes back to 1947 and is the longest unbroken technical sponsorship in Formula One," he said.
"We've been with them as they won their nine constructors' Formula One championships, nine drivers' championships and over 5,000 successes worldwide, and I am proud that we have been with Ferrari every lap, every step of the way, working with them and supporting them and hope we've been helping in our little way with their successes."
SKF supplies more than 150 different bearings to the Formula One cars Ferrari builds.
"The requirements of these bearings are very much like the requirements we have in the aerospace industry," Johnstone said. "Very demanding, very tough requirements on tolerances and materials. And we've been able to take these materials, the knowledge we've gained in sealing, from working with Ferrari and take that into our development for the everyday motor. That's the important perk we get from working with Ferrari." SKF recently re-signed with Ferrari for a further three years, and the company's collaboration with Roush Racing is also a long-term arrangement, as Johnstone pointed out.
"Our relationship with Roush Racing is a bit shorter -- this is our third season in working with the number 99 car. In that time, we've been able to forge a very good relationship with the team. We've been able to work closely with the team and develop product for their vehicles, as well. We're very close to finalizing an agreement to work with them for another three years." The last word went to NASCAR star Burton, who understands the clash of cultures that Formula One's return to the United States will emphasize. "What Americans don't have a true understanding of, and neither do I as an F1 fan, is how technical it is," he said. "That is really the cool part about F1 racing, how technical it is compared to what we do. The Americans fans need to understand that and look at that aspect of F1. I am really glad to see F1 racing in the United States - it's the biggest form of motorsports in the world."
-Indianapolis Motor Speedway-