Cultural crossroads America has a more colourful world championship history than any other host nation on the Formula One calendar. The country was included on the inaugural schedule in 1950 but as it had no suitable host venue for an F1 race,...
America has a more colourful world championship history than any other host nation on the Formula One calendar.
The country was included on the inaugural schedule in 1950 but as it had no suitable host venue for an F1 race, the authorities simply decided that the country's most prestigious motorsport event - the Indianapolis 500 - would count as a championship round, even if no F1 drivers took part. This arrangement lasted until 1960, by which time America had sufficient facilities to adhere to convention.
The first true United States Grand Prix took place in 1959, a one-off fixture at Sebring, since when events have been hosted at Riverside (1), Watkins Glen (20), Long Beach (8), Las Vegas (2), Detroit (7), Dallas (1), Phoenix (3) and, finally, Indianapolis, which reintroduced F1 to America in 2000, after a nine-year absence. Fittingly, the modern-day circuit incorporates a section of the legendary Indianapolis 500 superspeedway.
Michelin has scored eight world championship grand prix victories in the United States, with Carlos Reutemann (Ferrari 312 T3, Long Beach 1978 and Watkins Glen 1978), Gilles Villeneuve (Ferrari 312 T4, Long Beach 1979 and Watkins Glen 1979), Alan Jones (Williams FW07C-Cosworth, Long Beach 1981), Niki Lauda (McLaren MP4B-Cosworth, Long Beach 1982), John Watson (McLaren MP4/1C-Cosworth, Long Beach 1983) and Nelson Piquet (Brabham BT53-BMW, Detroit 1984).
This weekend Michelin will be chasing its first Indianapolis victory - it is the only circuit on the contemporary F1 calendar at which the company has yet to register a success.
Nick Shorrock, Formula One director, Michelin:
"This weekend the Formula One circus moves from Montreal to Indianapolis's famous 'Brickyard', as the circuit is known, one of the oldest surviving motor racing facilities in the world. Unlike the adjacent oval, the grand prix track is tackled clockwise, which makes it conventional in Formula One terms but less so from a North American perspective. The F1 cars run partly on the oval, albeit the 'wrong' way around, and partly on a bespoke, infield circuit - a unique blend that puts a wide variation of loads on the cars."
"We come to Indianapolis on the crest of a wave, following Michelin's 100th world championship victory last weekend, in Montreal, and are well prepared for this demanding circuit. Along with Silverstone and Suzuka it is one of the hardest on tyres during in the grand prix season - the banked, 'oval' section of the track is particularly abrasive."
"Our preparations for this race have been going on for some time. We have been evaluating tyres and running various computer simulations on test equipment in Clermont-Ferrand and Calspan, Buffalo, in America. This has enabled us to reproduce many different configurations without being restricted by time or unfavourable weather conditions. All members of our team have contributed to developing our 2006 Indianapolis tyres and I'd like to thank them for all their hard work."
"As always, our tyres for this race have been prepared in close collaboration with our partners and the most recent tests took place at Monza, Italy, and Le Castellet, France. We will have six different products at Indianapolis and all are new. We look forward to an exciting, competitive weekend."
Scott Speed, Scuderia Toro Rosso:
"I participated in the Friday test sessions at Indianapolis last season and this year I'm really looking forward to competing in my home grand prix for the first time. Michelin gives us great support at every race and I know I can count on that again this weekend - no doubt about it."