UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX NOTEBOOK Montoya eager for 'home' race at Indy; Trulli wants to extend hot streak INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, June 16, 2004 - Colombia's Juan Pablo Montoya is looking forward to his "home" Grand Prix - the Unites States ...
UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX NOTEBOOK
Montoya eager for 'home' race at Indy; Trulli wants to extend hot streak
INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, June 16, 2004 - Colombia's Juan Pablo Montoya is looking forward to his "home" Grand Prix - the Unites States Grand Prix on June 20 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"Going back to race in the USA is always a great feeling, especially going back to the Brickyard," Williams-BMW driver Montoya said. "To see all those people in the grandstands is a huge boost for me as it reminds me of my CART days and of my Indy 500 victory in 2000.
"I'll get to see some good friends again while I'm in Indy, and I am sure there will be several Colombian flags around too. I consider this race to be a home race for me since I lived in the U.S. for a while and, whenever I have some days off, I enjoy spending time in Miami, where my family lives.
"I also have bittersweet memories here. At last year's U.S. Grand Prix, I lost any opportunity I had of winning the Drivers' Championship. That is how it goes in racing, though, so I've put that disappointment firmly behind me.
"Indianapolis is another fast circuit, probably slightly faster than Montreal, but the infield section is very slow and finding the right setup for the car will be crucial. For several reasons, we haven't had a good season so far, but I really hope we can start turning things around at the Speedway."
Montoya is sixth in the World Championship point standings with a best finish of second at Malaysia.
Trulli wants to continue momentum at Indianapolis: Monaco Grand Prix winner Jarno Trulli is aiming for high finish in the United States Grand Prix.
When Trulli won the Monaco Grand Prix on May 23 in his Mild Seven Renault, he earned the first Formula One victory of his career, and he broke Michael Schumacher's 2004 winning streak.
"Indianapolis is a special place to visit," Trulli said. "It is famous as the home of one of the most important races in the world, and it has the same reputation as Monaco does for us in Europe.
"It is not a particularly technical circuit - it is very slippery, and downforce levels are quite low. In terms of setup, we try and get good speeds down the main straight, and then work hard on the mechanical grip of the car in the slow corners to allow us to take off downforce for straight-line speed.
"We hope we stay competitive, as we were in Canada. Although I was disappointed to retire there, we can feel the team has built up some momentum in recent races, and I hope we can continue that in the USA. The team was very strong last weekend in Canada, and in 2003 our package performed very well at Indianapolis. This may turn out to be a nice circuit for us."
Le Mans winner to compete at Indianapolis: Patrick Long of the United States co-drove a Porsche with Jorg Bergmeister and Sascha Maassen to win the GT class at the Le Mans 24 Hours race June 12-13 at Le Mans, France. This weekend, Long will compete in the Porsche Michelin Supercup races June 19-20 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Last year, Long competed in select Porsche Supercup races in Europe. He is regarded as one of the young U.S. drivers who have the potential to move up to the F1 ranks.
Each Porsche Michelin Supercup race takes place in conjunction with a Grand Prix. This is the 12th consecutive season, and the fifth at the U.S. Grand Prix, that the Porsche Supercup has run as a support series on F1 weekends.
The cars that race are technically identical Porsche GT3 Cup sports cars. The 3.6-liter, six-cylinder engines develop 390 horsepower, rev to 8,000 rpm and attain speeds faster than 170 mph (270 kph).
Famous names race in Formula BMW USA: Graham Rahal and Federico Montoya will compete in the Formula BMW USA races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on June 19-20.
Rahal is the son of 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, who also won this year's Indy 500 as co-owner of the car driven by Buddy Rice.
Graham Rahal, 15, raced in karts in 2001, when he was named rookie of the year in his class, and in 2002 when he was ranked seventh in the national rankings. He finished third in the Stars of Karting national championship last year. His hobbies include working on cars, skiing, golf and lacrosse.
Montoya, 18, is the brother of 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner and current Williams-BMW driver Juan Pablo Montoya.
Federico Montoya competed in karts last year before moving up to the new Formula BMW USA Championship this season. He lists his hobbies as snowboarding, computers and video games, and his ambition is to follow his famous brother's footsteps into F1.
Williams-BMW aims to improve at Indianapolis: The BMW WilliamsF1 team believes that it can be competitive on the 13-turn F1 circuit at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The track calls for similar car qualities needed to be quick at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit in Montreal where Williams-BMW drivers Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya finished second and fifth, respectively, last weekend before being disqualified for a minor technical infringement concerning the air scoops for the front brakes.
"Our car works in a completely different lift to drag ratio at Montreal and Indy than it does at the high-downforce tracks," said Williams Technical Director Sam Michael. "That changes everything. It changes the setup and the ride heights. And there are no high-speed corners, so it is all about braking and traction."
Da Matta's view: 2002 CART champion Cristiano da Matta is taking a cautious outlook on the prospects of the Panasonic Toyota Racing team's chances this weekend. He finished eighth in the recent Canadian Grand Prix, but his car was later disqualified for using illegal brake cooling ducts, the same penalty assessed to Williams' cars.
"We need to still keep fighting to improve our car," da Matta said. "I expect that Indianapolis will be another difficult race for us. We still will be struggling a little bit there as we won't have a lot of time to change things on the car between the races in Canada and Indy."
Last year, da Matta competed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time and finished ninth in the United States Grand Prix in his Toyota. He noted that F1's fan base in the U.S. is on the rise.
"Last year was my first time here, and I saw a lot of Ferrari fans, which for me does not make a lot of difference!" he said. "But it is nice to see a lot of supporters anyway. It is nice to see the sport of F1 has so many followers in U.S., which has not always been the case in the past. It is nice to see that they start to develop the taste for this type of racing more and more."
Massa fit to race: Felipe Massa has been cleared to race this weekend following his accident in Canada in the Sauber-Petronas.
"I didn't get to Indianapolis in 2002 so this will be my first visit," Massa said. "I have talked the layout over with the team, of course, and I am familiar with it from television footage. The best way to learn a circuit, for me, is to go round it on a scooter, but in any case I learn them pretty quickly, and it should only take me half a dozen laps to familiarize myself."
The longest blast: F1 engines are at full throttle for about 23 seconds from the exit of Turn 11 to Turn 1 of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road circuit. It is the longest flat-out section of all 18 tracks on the F1 calendar.
"For an F1 engine, the longest single period spent at full throttle is the most punishing characteristic at any circuit, rather than the overall percentage of the lap during which the engine is at full load," said Denis Chevrier, head of engine operations with the Mild Seven Renault team. "The challenge is essentially one of heat evacuation, and the area of the engine on which it has the biggest impact is the pistons.
"When a driver is accelerating through the gears, the engine is not actually at maximum revs for very long, and braking means that the moving parts are given respite from the load they are under, and heat is evacuated. However, for a continuous period at full throttle, there is no respite, and no opportunity for this energy to be lost.
"Furthermore, the relationship between the challenge of dealing with an extended period at full throttle, and the time this involves, is not linear: in other words, if you double the time spent at full throttle, this more than doubles the challenge."
A unique challenge: The 13-turn Indianapolis F1 track presents F1 engineers with a unique challenge when it comes to setting up their cars for the best lap times.
"Indianapolis presents the race engineers with a unique challenge, that of what we might call the schizophrenic circuit," said Pat Symonds, executive director of engineering at Mild Seven Renault. "With a layout comprising the longest flat-out section of the year, at 23 seconds, and some of the season's slowest corners through the infield, the track effectively demands two contradictory sets of capabilities from the car: for the best time through the infield, the ideal setup is high downforce and high drag for better braking and traction, while the opposite is true for the remainder of the lap. Managing this contradiction is an interesting challenge for the engineers.
"When preparing for a race, one of the primary things to be done by simulation is to decide what wing settings to use. This is done by feeding the lift and drag figures for each setting and wing type, into a sophisticated simulation program which represents the car doing a lap of the track in question."
Fisichella aims for more points: After getting a fourth place in his Sauber-Petronas in the Canadian Grand Prix on June 13, Giancarlo Fisichella is confident of another finish in the points in the United States Grand Prix.
"I think Indy will be another good race for us," he said. "It is a good circuit for our car. We have a good top speed, which is what you need here. And then the second thing is that our good pace in the race with the consistency of the tires and the car and my experience. So we are quite optimistic of scoring points again."
"At Indianapolis I have been unlucky in the past, but the circuit is OK, and the race is a big story in America," Fisichella said. "When we go through the Parabolica (the banked Turn 13) we really feel like we are racing at Indy! The first corner is a bit difficult, because you approach at top speed and have to slow down a lot for the corner and the chicane that follows. If you brake a little bit too late, you can be in trouble, which keeps you on your toes."
Last year, Heinz-Harald Frentzen took third place in the United States Grand Prix in a Sauber-Petronas.
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.