An interview with: Cristiano da Matta Dario Franchitti Q: Two questions. One, just talk about your off-season training regimen and how it prepared you for something like today. And unfortunately, but for the pit stops, it looked like you...
An interview with: Cristiano da Matta Dario Franchitti
Q: Two questions. One, just talk about your off-season training regimen and how it prepared you for something like today. And unfortunately, but for the pit stops, it looked like you could have had the fastest car today?
Dario Franchitti: Yeah, the training thing has been ongoing. It was one of those days ... you've got to do it. It's one of those things, everybody is doing it, all of the drivers, you have to keep pace. And the thing about it, you have to do it more than any of the other guys. There's guys like Tony Kanaan ... so everybody is pushing to that level. These cars are very difficult to drive and on a day like today, it makes it extra difficult.
As far as the pit stops, what can I say. I'm not happy. We've had some problems - and we've had some problems a couple of times this year, but today was just unacceptable. To lose all of 10 places on the first three - to lose places, just to make mistakes the first two stops is definitely not good enough. We've got to stop that because making mistakes like that - the car was fantastic today. I've got to credit the guys; the first time my car turned a wheel was yesterday morning, so from that point of view my guys have done a great job. We just need to get the stops sorted out because the car , the guys have done heck of a job to that car, it's quick, and a waste today, unfortunately.
Q: There's been some talk about whether this is a good track in terms of passing and that kind of thing, talk about the track in general, do you like racing here and how much of a problem is that for the overall show?
Dario Franchitti: It's definitely difficult to pass. Passing was very difficult today unfortunately. I certainly couldn't pass anybody. But that is a problem. I don't know the answer to that. I'm sure a guy like Chris Pook in charge is smart enough to fix the problem. From what I've seen, he's a guy that means business, there's no doubt about it, which is a great thing to see. It's a shame. It's very tight and there's no passing.
Q: Would you talk a little bit about the new rules have let you race more, but have put more emphasis on perfect pit stops. Can you talk about that?
Dario Franchitti: The pit stops have always been important. There's still a lot of stuff that goes on because - the shorter your pits stops are going to be. A lot can go on. I think in the races we've had on the road courses - I think whatever we do, there's always going to be little doubts or whatever. But one thing I'll say, it's difficult to overtake or whatever because we are so closely matched.
One thing, from a driver's point of view, this year is when we have gone out on road courses, in particular we go through the checkered flag flat-out. That's the way it should be.
Q: What did you think of the incident between [Alex] Tagliani and [Paul] Tracy?
Dario Franchitti: Yeah. (Laughs). Paul was being pretty aggressive there. Paul was very aggressive today. I'm trying to think what happened - they touched. I'd like to see a replay of it. Definitely, those two guys, they have got a love/hate relationship, they really do. (Laughs). Today was a classic example of that.
Q: Looked like Tag [Tagliani] slipped a little?
Dario Franchitti: That could be. The track was very slick and they were very close. Bruno was going slow too. But I think Paul was trying to make the corner, just the same as everybody else. I don't know, you'd have to ask Paul. It's one of those things. Passing is so difficult when you're trying to make a pass and you don't have a slot open. I don't know if it was his fault, but I'd need to watch the video.
Q: Towards the end of the race there was won one pass Townsend Bell got around you and he was several laps down.
Dario Franchitti: Thanks. (Laughter).
Q: You've been talking about the importance of pit stops. Is there more and more pressure being put on the pit crews?
Dario Franchitti: This is just my take on it off the top of my head. You have a full load of fuel, 35 gallons or whatever, 40 gallons going into car. But now they are starting to short fuel and stuff in order to gain track position.
So sometimes on certain pit stops the longest thing you are waiting on is changing tires. Before you had the luxury, you could take 10 seconds, but now the more you rush, more mistakes can be made.
Q: With Lee Dykstra, he's addressed the problem, even Bridgestone has talked about harder tires, and then maybe cut the horsepower back, could that put racing back to where it was on short tracks five years ago?
Dario Franchitti: I think I was here five years ago. (Laughter.) I would imagine if it comes back, you could run side by side - pretty exciting. Difficult racing things. It's probably - and different ways, that's the good thing about what we are seeing in CART they are not scared to try things. So I think we can definitely try some different things and find something that works.
Q: Everybody who stepped outside today knows exactly what the weather was like. How does a day like this affect you guys in the cockpit? A couple of guys got out of the car and were grass gasping for breath and looked totally spent.
Dario Franchitti: I tell you what, you'll see some guys falling over today, I'll tell you that. It's a difficult track. I think the worst part of this is the guys in the pits go so far and can't rest from the heat; at least there's air in the car blowing over us..
Q: You talked about how difficult it was to pass here. Were you even more tentative, you had an incident on the first turn of the race, and it seemed like turn one was a little tough for everybody today. Did that make you more tentative in terms of passing?
Dario Franchitti: Not really. I couldn't get close enough to make a move. That's unfortunately the way it was today, for me, anyway. Some people were able to get close. [Michel] Jourdain was close to Cristiano at times.
Q: Looking at next week, you've performed very well at Toronto. Your team has had the setup and now you have the equipment, so any thoughts on next week with the new equipment?
Dario Franchitti: This will be the first street course. This is going to be something new again and we're going to have to get everything right. We're going to have to work at it.
Q: Along the same lines, you've had a bit of a disappointing day here, but you've done very well and you've made the switch to Lolas. Everybody is kind of saying, well, Cristiano has really got a lock on the championship, but you are actually in pretty good shape championship-wise. As far as your championship condition, strength of the team, you've obviously got to improve the pit stops, but how do you look at the whole season, not just Toronto?
Dario Franchitti: The championship is not over. We're not even halfway through the season yet. There's a lot of racing to go. If we can improve our performance and start winning some races, then we are looking good. Cristiano is very strong and he's done a good job, his whole team, but we are going to be trying to beat him. His car has been consistent and quick. There's a lot of guys, that any week the championship could change. The one thing is we have to stop Cristiano from winning.
Q: What can you do collectively to get more passing in with the second half of the season? Is there anything that you can do in terms of technology, in terms of rules changes? What do you see on the horizon that could maybe improve it?
Dario Franchitti: I think the tracks we are racing on, we'll see more passing for sure, when we go to these different tracks. Today was a particular - I see it as a victim of all of the teams being so good if that makes sense. Long ago, Bridgestone - it used to be years ago, it would be tires going off and every week you could make a move on someone. People would set the cars up wrong and guys were really struggling in races. But on these cars, they don't make too many mistakes in setups and stuff. That's why it it's so difficult to pass. Everybody is getting out to the track and doing their jobs very, very well.
Q: What tracks do you perceive for passing?
Dario Franchitti: Toronto, Cleveland, Vancouver, Germany, the U.K., after that, I don't know where we're going.
Q: There was some speculation before the race that with all of the heat that there would be more passing because the tire's performance would go off, but apparently the tires stayed pretty consistent once again.
Dario Franchitti: I think Bridgestone did a great job. That's one of the problems they do such a great job with the tires, you can run it from the first lap to the last lap, it's the same. So the tires are not going to move.
da Matta, Franchitti press conference, part I