INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, June 13, 2005 - Selected pre-race quotes from Formula One drivers and personalities about the United States Grand Prix on June 16-19 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: FERNANDO ALONSO (Mild Seven Renault F1 Team, first in...
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, June 13, 2005 - Selected pre-race quotes from Formula One drivers and personalities about the United States Grand Prix on June 16-19 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
FERNANDO ALONSO (Mild Seven Renault F1 Team, first in points): (About your chances at Indianapolis): "Indy is a very special track, with its very different parts - the high-speed and the low-speed corners. I raced four times there, and I never crossed the finish line. I always had very bad luck at Indy. A lot of mechanical problems. So this year, with everything going well and all the luck with me, I really hope to finish. Indianapolis is a famous track, a very historic track, and I really want to do well there and get on the podium if I can. I approach the 2005 race in Indianapolis with more motivation than ever."
RUBENS BARRICHELLO (Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, seventh in points, 2002 United States Grand Prix winner): (Can he and Ferrari catch Fernando Alonso, who leads the World Championship?): "We know that if Alonso, for example, finishes all the races in the points then it will be very difficult to win the (Drivers) Championship, but there is a lot to happen yet and it might change, you never know. On the Constructors side, we just need to improve a little bit more, and points will be there."
(About Ferrari's chances at the United States Grand Prix and the ambience of the race and enthusiasm of the fans): "I think we will go very well. We have always been quite fast there. This year we still think that we are catching McLaren and Renault. But we have to see. There's going to be a fantastic atmosphere at Indy because over the last few years it has been quite good already. Everybody is going to go to see Scott Speed driving the Red Bull car on Friday practice, so I guess this is good motivation to see the Americans come out and check it out."
JENSON BUTTON (Lucky Strike BAR Honda): (About chances for him and the team to win the World Championship): "We don't have a chance in the championship, of winning the championship, anyway. Our aim is to go out and hopefully fight for wins. Hopefully we are ready for it."
DAVID COULTHARD (Red Bull Racing, tied for ninth in points): "After scoring two points in points in Montreal against expectations, I'm looking forward to the race at Indianapolis. The circuit there is very different to Montreal. It's not as tough on cars or drivers, so I don't expect such a high rate of attrition. That means qualifying will be even more important than normal there.
Having said that, after coming through from a grid position of 12th on the last two races, to finish fourth in Nürburgring and to score two points in Montreal, we've shown that anything is possible. For Red Bull Racing, scoring points again is important to maintain its battle in the Constructors' Championship. It's very open at the moment and our stated ambition going into season was to be among the manufacturer-backed teams, which is what we're achieving. As for the race itself, you never know, but as we showed in Monaco and Germany this year, Red Bull Racing is capable of being up there."
GIL DE FERRAN (Sporting Director, Lucky Strike BAR Honda, 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner): "Personally there is a special feeling returning to Indy for a race. Although I return in a very different capacity, Indy is a place where one of my greatest triumphs took place as driver, and I have some fantastic memories. Hopefully I will be able to add to those memories with a good showing from BAR Honda. Despite the disappointment in Canada, we feel very good going into the U.S. Grand Prix. We were quite competitive throughout the last weekend and we are hoping to find ourselves in a similar position at Indianapolis."
GIANCARLO FISICHELLA (Mild Seven Renault F1 Team, tied for ninth in points): (Can you catch your teammate, Fernando Alonso, in the standings?): "It is difficult because he has lots of points compared to me. Fernando is quick; he is consistent, so it looks unlikely. But I will do my best." (About how competitive the car will be in the United States Grand Prix): "I think it is going to be all right. We have a good package for high-speed circuits. And there straight-line speed is very important."
(About atmosphere at the United States Grand Prix): "I enjoy going there. There is a big history around Indianapolis. F1 is getting more popular year after year in America, which is very important. I really like that weekend, and I hope to do well."
NICK HEIDFELD (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, fourth in points): "I have always liked Indianapolis. I've always had good results there in the past, so I'm looking forward to going back there again and hopefully getting another good result for the team. The place itself is outstanding, particularly because of the grandstand in front of the pits. I hope there's another good crowd to give us a great atmosphere. The banking looks spectacular but, for a driver, it is actually quite easy to go flat out there as long as you don't have any problems with the car. We should be a bit stronger in the U.S. than we were in Montreal."
CHRISTIAN KLIEN (Red Bull Racing, tied for 15th in points): "There are always a lot of spectators in America and the event has a good atmosphere, so on that side of things it's a good race. I enjoyed being there last year although I didn't finish the race. I had a crash at the first corner, so I certainly hope to do better this year. It's hard to set definite aims in terms of finishing and grid positions, but I'll be looking to do a good job for the team and for myself."
SAM MICHAEL (Technical Director, BMW WilliamsF1 Team): "We are now going to Indy, the second of the North American races, and a circuit similar to Montreal in that it is a low drag level track. The circuit demands one of the longest times on full throttle, at just over 20 seconds from the last corner all the way through the banking and down to Turn 1. The rest of the circuit is dominated by slow-speed corners, which means that traction control is crucial.
It is also important to have a tire that can cope with the high loads of the banking while giving good grip in slow speed. The tires were selected two weeks ago for this Grand Prix, having worked on them with Michelin during our test program in Europe. In terms of race strategy, Indy is normally a two-stop race, but we'll wait and see what the situation is on tire degradation and fuel effect after practice."
TIAGO MONTEIRO (Jordan Grand Prix): (About racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time): "I am very excited about going to Indy. I love Indianapolis. I spent some great times there (when racing in Champ Car). I am going to see a lot of people that I used to work with. We have already scheduled some barbeques and stuff with my old mechanics and engineers. And of course, Indianapolis is such a famous and amazing name. It is a pity that I never got to race in the Indy 500. And so now I am going to be running on it, even though we will be going the other way down the track, and won't be on the full oval. It's a famous name and important to be there."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (West McLaren Mercedes, 11th in points, 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner): (About how competitive the car will be in the United States Grand Prix): "It would be nice to be very competitive there. That is one of the races that I have not won that I would really love to win. As I won the Indy 500, to have the two wins in Indianapolis would be really special." (About Colombian fans coming to Indianapolis to cheer him): "It is great. At Indy, every year it is pretty much out of control, but it is cool. It is nice to see that. It is nice to see the fans going a bit wild."
KIMI RAIKKONEN (West McLaren-Mercedes, second in points): (About how competitive the car will be in the United States Grand Prix): "For sure, the car will be good in the USA because so far every car (McLaren brought to Indianapolis) has been pretty strong there. "I think Indy should suit our car better than this place (Montreal), so I think we should be stronger there than here. I think we were pretty strong in the race anyhow here, and hopefully we can get both cars to the finish at the next race and try to catch up more on the Renaults; that would be good."
(Can you catch Fernando Alonso in the World Championship?): "It is not easy to gain too many points because as long as they (Renault) keep finishing races and in the points, we cannot gain so much. It really depends; there are many races to go, and so many things can happen. As long as we can keep finishing the races and hopefully in front of them, I think we have a good chance of catching him, but it is never going to be easy. We just need to do our best, and hopefully it's enough." (About fans at the United States Grand Prix): "Last year, there were already more people than before, so I think it's going to pick up every year. More and more people are coming and getting more interested."
TAKUMA SATO (Lucky Strike BAR Honda): "I have great memories from Indianapolis in 2004 as I got my first podium at the race last year. I am very much looking forward to getting back to Indy this weekend and I think we will be competitive. The new aero package looked promising in Canada last weekend, so I hope the car will again show a step forward in performance and it should suit the Indy circuit quite well."
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER (Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, fifth in points, three-time United States Grand Prix winner): (About chances for him and the team to win the World Championship): "I wouldn't call it good, but it is mathematically still possible and as long as that is the case, there is no reason to give up."
(About Ferrari's chances at the United States Grand Prix and the ambience of the race and the enthusiasm of the fans): "I think we have great enthusiasm at Indy, sometimes more than at some European races, honestly, because you find that there are a lot of spectators who are foreigners living in the States who don't have a chance to go to European races. They are so hot to come to that race that it's sometimes more difficult to get into the circuit than elsewhere. So I look forward to the atmosphere. It has been going well in the past, and I hope for a good race, as well, this year."
RALF SCHUMACHER (Panasonic Toyota Racing, eighth in points): (About racing at Indianapolis): "Toyota has always performed well in Indianapolis despite not having had a particularly strong car in the past. So that certainly bodes well for us this season. The challenge of the speedway is juggling the setup of the car to make sure we reach a good top speed along the banked start-finish straight into the first corner while making sure that the car is stable through the slow and twisty infield section. But I have no doubt that we have the tools we need to perform well at Indy.
Our RVX-05 engine has proven reliable and powerful, which will benefit us on the straight, while our aero efficiency has been gradually improved to cope with the infield. As the home of motor racing in the U.S., Indianapolis is a special venue and, like Montreal, has a unique atmosphere. Since its arrival on the F1 calendar in 2000, Indianapolis has been an unlucky track for me. But this season is a different story, and I am confident we can rectify this unfortunate record."
SCOTT SPEED (Friday Test Driver, Red Bull Racing, first American driver to participate in a Grand Prix weekend since 1993): "My main focus for Indianapolis will be to gain more time in the car, to learn as quickly as possible and fulfill my job for the team. I think the time I spent in the car in Montreal almost doubled the total time I'd ever spent at the wheel of an F1 car. At the moment, it's all about getting used to the car's setup, as it's so different to anything else I've driven. The main difference is the amount of aero-performance, as the F1 car is far more sensitive. Competing in the GP2 series on grooved tires has helped me with my main job for the team, which is providing feedback to help them assess the different tires.
A lot of people think there might be some pressure on me, but the amount of pressure I put on myself outweighs anything else that the situation creates - I just concentrate on the job in hand. I'm flying to Nice (France) after Canada to complete a GP2 test, before flying to Indianapolis for Friday's free practice session. To drive an F1 car in my home country will be such a thrill. I can't wait to get back in the driving seat."
JARNO TRULLI (Panasonic Toyota Racing, third in points): "I always enjoy the atmosphere in North America, and this double-header provides a welcome contrast to Europe. Indianapolis is a special venue which plays host to one of the most important races in the world, and I also enjoy the atmosphere in the evenings because the people are so friendly. The Indianapolis track is also different from the rest of the calendar. It is not particularly technical - it is slippery, and downforce levels are quite low.
When it comes to setting up the car, we try to get good speeds down the main straight, and work hard on the mechanical grip in the slow corners to allow us to take off downforce for straight-line speed. It's my first season at Panasonic Toyota Racing so I can't predict exactly how we'll perform at Indianapolis until we do some running there on Friday. But we remain positive. Toyota has gone well there in the past, so we'll hope for another good result here this year."
JACQUES VILLENEUVE (Sauber Petronas, 14th in points, 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner): (About atmosphere at the United States Grand Prix): "There is a very good atmosphere. It looks like it's not full, but it's still a huge crowd. It's just a racing area, and so people come to see racing. That makes it exciting. It's good to be on the oval, even if it is only one turn."
(About winning 1995 Indianapolis 500): "I have so many good memories. That was a very important moment in my career, and that will remain." (About how competitive the car will be in the United States Grand Prix): "We won't be at the front. There's no reason for the cars to be fast there. We can look at a track where everything goes well for us and everybody else is in trouble, then it gives us a small chance. We're either at the back (of the field) or less at the back."
MARK WEBBER (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, sixth in points): (About IMS track): "They have done a good job to try and put the circuit inside one of the best tracks in the world - The Speedway. It is not a bad track for overtaking. It has a long straight. It puts a massive demand on the engine. There is always a good turnout of fans. The Americans are starting to enjoy F1 a bit more. Every time we visit Indianapolis, it's impossible to ignore the fantastic history and atmosphere of the Brickyard, and the world-famous Indy 500. It's a place steeped in American motor racing history, but I also think Formula One is growing bigger in the States with every USGP. In fact, I expect the interest will be even greater this year given that this year's championship has so many different contenders and new names are coming to the fore. What always impresses me about racing in the States is just how passionate and educated the audience is about Formula One.
The layout of the circuit isn't the most demanding by any means for either the car, or the driver, because of the repetitive nature of the infield section. But that's why we go to 19 different venues each year as they all provide very different challenges. Indy is a circuit, which generally provides pretty good racing, mainly because the long straight offers the drivers some overtaking opportunities at the end of it." (Can Kimi Raikkonen catch Fernando Alonso?): "Yes. But the brief for Fernando will be to see the checkered flag. The way the points system is now, with just two points between first and second, even if Kimi wins every race and Fernando finishes second, (Alonso is champion)."
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.