TORO ROSSO BOSS HAILS SPEED'S STRONG DRIVE IN SEASON FINALE
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Oct. 23, 2006 - Scott Speed rounded off his rookie season in Formula One with what his Scuderia Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost called "one of his best races this season" Oct. 22 in the Brazilian Grand Prix.
The Brazilian Grand Prix was the 18th and final race in the FIA Formula One World Championship for America's only F1 driver. Speed qualified 17th and finished a solid 11th.
"Another new track for me," he said of the 15-turn, 2.677-mile (4.309 km) Interlagos circuit.
Speed, who had a spin, was 26th quickest on the opening day of practice Friday, Oct. 20.
"It is very tight and right now very slippery," he said. "So going for a full lap without missing a braking point or sliding off line has been difficult.
"I had heard about how bumpy this place is and that fact that it is an anti-clockwise track, but after two hours out there in the car, I'm feeling fine physically. In terms of car performance, it felt on the edge everywhere, and although track conditions will improve, it will always be tough for us as we usually struggle on this type of circuit."
In qualifying the next day, Speed barely missed the cut to reach the second session. He was 17th quickest. His teammate Tonio Liuzzi, who was 16th and advanced, was just .001 of a second faster than Speed.
Speed was encouraged about the progress he and the car had made.
"It was a good qualifying for us," he said. "This morning, we really improved the car from the first day. My compliments to the guys who sorted it out with lots of hard work overnight. I made a small mistake, but I got 99 percent of the potential of the car.
"Before we came here, I thought this might be our worse race, but now I think we have a chance to put up a fight, because the car is a lot better than I thought it would be. I'll be hoping to make a good start and pass a few cars on the first lap."
Speed started the race 17th and was up to 14th at the end of Lap 1 thanks, in part, to the two Williams drivers retiring. From there, Speed climbed to 10th and spent 19 laps in that position before briefly running in ninth until he pitted.
The pit stops dropped him to 13th, but he managed to cross the line in 11th, one lap down, at the end of the race. Teammate Liuzzi, who tangled with another car, finished 13th.
"Scott drove one of his best races this season," Tost said, "with consistent lap times, and he also fought well. The team did a good job with both cars finishing. In reliability terms, we are the fifth best team overall this season and have ended up ninth in the Constructors Championship.
"The team itself has learnt to work together, gathering useful experience over this season, and that will be a good starting point for next year."
On the Monday, Oct. 23, Speed flew back home to California. He planned to immediately start preparing for the 2007 F1 season that includes his home United States Grand Prix on June 17 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In addition to doing physical training, Speed will keep his skills honed by racing karts before he returns to the cockpit of his F1 car at the first offseason test at the end of November in Spain.
2007 USGP tickets: Three-day "Season Passes" for the 2007 United States Grand Prix, June 15-17, are on sale for $60 to all customers. All other reserved seats will go on sale Wednesday, Nov. 1.
Ticket information can be found any time at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com or by calling the IMS Ticket Office at (800) 822-4639 or (317) 492-6700. Ticket Office hours are from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday.