US GP: M. Schumacher confident

M. Schumacher confident to continue Ferrari roll at USGP INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, June 17, 2004 -- This weekend's United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the ninth round of the 18-race FIA Formula One World Championship, ...

M. Schumacher confident to continue Ferrari roll at USGP

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, June 17, 2004 -- This weekend's United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the ninth round of the 18-race FIA Formula One World Championship, marking the midpoint of the season.

The four-day weekend is already underway with thousands of fans attending the pit walkabout, driver autograph sessions and other fan-based activities June 17 at the track.

The United States Grand Prix is the second part of the new North American F1 "double-header" as the Indianapolis event follows the Canadian Grand Prix that took place June 13 in Montreal.

Michael Schumacher, a two-time winner of the United States Grand Prix, also won last weekend's Canadian Grand Prix in his Ferrari, and he's confident of another strong showing this weekend on the 2.605-mile road circuit in Indianapolis.

"We hope to notch another win," Schumacher said "Make no mistake: We want to go for victory, and we will be competitive. I have said it often enough, but I think we are going into Indianapolis with a good chance."

BMW WilliamsF1 Team is hoping for a competitive weekend in Indianapolis. Teammates Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya finished second and fifth, respectively, in the recent race in Canada, but both later were disqualified for a minor technical infringement regarding the front brake air scoops.

"You can say the responsibility stops with me at the end of the day," team owner Sir Frank Williams said of the disqualifications. "But we're a large organization; there's a chain of events that has occurred, which I'm not going to dissect here. But we were very clumsy with that part.

"I hope you all believe there's no implication whatsoever of seeking an aerodynamic advantage with that by cheating. We made a mistake, we paid a heavy price, and we have no quarrel with that."

It was very disheartening to get disqualified, Ralf Schumacher said.

"We all were disappointed," he said, "especially the mechanics, it was a result we desperately were looking for, but that's the way it is. In my time at Williams, we have never had a problem, and it was just an unfortunate incident. As Frank just said, we have never and will never cheat, and it was not our intention."

The illegal brake air scoops did not give the Williams cars any performance advantages, so the team is encouraged by its strong showing in Montreal and hopes that form continues in Indianapolis.

"It doesn't change the fact we had a great race," Ralf Schumacher said. "I think everybody saw that. The car fitted very well to Montreal. We can have another good one here, but it is certainly a bit more difficult. Obviously, yes, we didn't get any points, but hopefully we'll catch some here."

Montoya, winner of the 2000 Indianapolis 500, also is looking forward to a good showing in this weekend's United States Grand Prix.

"I think we should be pretty strong here," Montoya said. "All the years we've been pretty good here. It seems the car runs down low to be quite competitive. We'll have to wait and see. In Montreal, it suits the car even better because it's quite bumpy, and the car tends to run really well."

Jenson Button and the Lucky Strike BAR-Honda team continue to have a brilliant season. Button is third in the Drivers Championship and has six podium finishes so far this year.

"We can't test before Indy so we don't have any changes to the car or engine," he said, "so we'll just have to see what we can achieve on the engineering side. We should be quicker in the next race, and Indy is quite an interesting circuit with the banking at the last turn.

"Apart from that it is pretty slow, but the grip level is usually higher than Montreal. I'm looking forward to getting back in the car this weekend."

Mild Seven Renault drivers Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso were competitive in Canada but both retired with transmission problems. It was Trulli's first retirement of the season and Alonso's second. They have finished in the points in every other race this year.

"We were quite surprised by our competitiveness in Canada," Alonso said, "and that certainly makes us hopeful we can be strong in Indy. On paper, Indianapolis is not our best circuit, so we need to be cautious making predictions. However, the R23 was actually quite strong here last year, and as a team, we have been very strong in the last three or four races.

"Our reliability this season has been excellent, and I think the failures in Montreal were probably more bad luck than anything else. I would expect things to be back to normal on that front for Indy. The circuit itself is strange: You have to find the right compromise between the two different halves. It has similar downforce levels to Canada, and we were very quick there. So maybe we can be as well in Indy. I'm looking forward to a good race."

Last year, Kimi Raikkonen won the pole for the United States Grand Prix. This year, he and teammate David Coulthard are struggling with their uncompetitive and unreliable West McLaren-Mercedes MP4-19 cars. But the team is on the upswing now, and Raikkonen and Coulthard finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in the recent Canadian Grand Prix.

"The United States Grand Prix attracts numerous U.S. race fans and therefore always has a great atmosphere, which I of course enjoy," Raikkonen said. "Although it is quite tough on the teams, I am enjoying having race after race at the moment, and hopefully we will run well at Indy. I think that as with the Nurburgring, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be better suited to the characteristics of our car, as it is not an out and out speed track."

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Tickets: Tickets for the United States Grand Prix can be purchased online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, or by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Williams