Newman/Haas Racing Edmonton Pre-Event Notes, Quotes

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Edmonton City Centre Airport runways

2 WINS, 1 POLE, 6 PODIUMS IN SIX EDMONTON EVENTS
The 2011 Edmonton Indy will mark the seventh Edmonton event for Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) who has competed here since 2005. NHR won the inaugural race here in 2005 when Sebastien Bourdais drove to victory from a 10th place start. Bourdais won again in 2007 from a second place start and set the fastest race lap. In total, the team has earned TWO wins (Bourdais 2007, 2005), ONE pole (Bourdais 2006) and SIX podium finishes (2nd – Bourdais 2006, Servia 2005; 3rd – Wilson 2008, Rahal 2007).

Oriol Servia, Newman/Haas Racing
Oriol Servia, Newman/Haas Racing

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Telemundo driver Oriol Servia returns to compete in his fifth Indy car race here. In his four previous races at the track, he has three, top-five finishes with his best of second place coming with NHR in 2005. Sprott driver James Hinchcliffe will make his Indy car debut in Edmonton after having won the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights race here from pole. It will be his sixth year to race in Edmonton and eighth event (two races in 2007 and 2008). He has three poles and four podium finishes here including his 2010 win.

NEW LAYOUT FOR THE 2011 EDMONTON EVENT – AN ENGINEERING PERSPECTIVE
From 2005-2010 the track has largely been a 1.96-mile, 14-turn temporary airport circuit with minor modifications. The 2011 event will feature an all-new layout utilizing different airport runways and Newman/Haas Racing engineers Craig Hampson and Bruno Couprie comment on the expectations for the team this weekend as well as the season to date.

Hampson is in his 18th season with the team and fourth as senior engineer and is also the race engineer for the No. 06 Sprott entry for rookie James Hinchcliffe. Prior to being promoted to senior engineer, he spent the previous six seasons as a race engineer, four of which were championship-winning seasons with Sebastien Bourdais. Couprie is in his sixth season with the team and first full season as race engineer for the No. 2 Telemundo entry for Oriol Servia. He was race engineer for Hideki Mutoh for six events last season when the team expanded to two cars with the addition of a program for Graham Rahal.

HAMPSON AND COUPRIE ON THE TEAM’S PAST SUCCESS & CURRENT EXPECTATIONS
“Well, we had a one-two at the very first race here in 2005 when it was a new circuit,” said Craig Hampson. “And in the past Champ Car era, Newman/Haas was quite good at simulating new tracks and developing setups for them. Even though we're a smaller engineering group now, we do still try to apply those tools and methods.”

“The team has always been on the podium there, apart from the last 2 years, and this year we certainly have two podium-capable cars,” added Couprie.

COUPRIE ON THE NEW LAYOUT
“Edmonton used to be a tricky road course, very fast and very bumpy. The setup used to be very specific to this track.

This year will be very different. I would say it will be the same level of difficulty, but very different challenges for the setup and the drivers.”

TOP SPEED AND POTENTIAL PASSING AREAS
“We predict a top speed somewhere above 170 miles per hour,” said Hampson. “The new layout is just very different than the old one. That track was fun to drive on, and it was a good place to watch an Indy car stretch its legs and use the aerodynamic grip to get thru corners at a high level of acceleration and speed. But for the entertainment of a spectator for passing, it wasn't very good at all. From a fan's point of view, the new layout will be much more entertaining.”

“The top speed will be above 170 mph with a lot more passing,” added Couprie. “There are three good places to pass as opposed to one in the past. The passing will be easier since there are not going to be walls all around. And with the wide track and run offs, drivers will be encouraged to take more risks to pass.”

WILL EXISTING EXPERIENCE AND SUCCESS AT EDMONTON HELP?
“Other than knowing how to find our way from the hotel to the City Center airport, and what restaurants are best to eat at, I don't think prior knowledge is going to help any more,” said Hampson.

“Some if it will, because some turns are common to both tracks,” added Couprie. “But that is very minimal. Our better chance of success comes from Newman/Haas Racing’s ability to do well on new tracks.”

DOES THE NEW LAYOUT COMPARE TO ANY OTHERS WE HAVE COMPETED ON?
“I don't want to give anything away in terms of our plans, but the cornering speeds are much slower than in the past while the straights are faster,” said Hampson. “This drives us to a very different type of setup for Edmonton.”

“We have a good database of setups and corners, so we have been able to do some homework and come up with some good setup directions.”

DO WE GIVE OURSELVES A GOLD STAR FOR OUR SEASON SO FAR?
In two different mid-season reports on how each IZOD IndyCar Series team has fared to date, Newman/Haas Racing received high marks. The team was the only full-season entry that received an “A” from Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star. Robin Miller gave the team a “B” in his midseason report for www.Speed.com which was his highest grade for a full-season team. What grade do we give ourselves?

“We certainly appreciate all the good wishes and positive press that we have received but I believe Newman/Haas Racing has always been very self critical, and doesn't get too inflated with compliments,” said Hampson. “To that end, I think we are actually a bit ticked off with how things have gone because we know our potential is actually higher than we have achieved. Oriol should have had a much better finish at Iowa but we slipped up on the last pit stop. We had two decent finishes on the hook at Toronto then had both our cars crashed out in the same incident. James was generally very quick in Toronto, but we didn't put it together in qualifying for him. So until we win a race with Oriol and get James into the lead for Rookie of the Year then I'd say we're not yet pleased and still scratching pretty hard to improve the team, and improve our results.”

“The competitive nature of this business means that however good we are doing, we always want more,” added Couprie. “Take Indy for instance -- front row felt great but we were close to pole and did not snatch it. So we started thinking about what we should have done to get that extra 0.5 mph. Also Oriol should have had many more podiums than Milwaukee. Like Iowa where we had a bad stop, or Long Beach where we got taken in the Helio/Power incident. Oriol and the whole team really want a win. Until it happens we cannot be fully happy. However let’s face it: it is a great joy to work with James and Oriol, and know that every weekend we are contenders at least for the podium, and we have a shot at winning it. Be it on a road/street course or ovals.”

HOW COMPETITIVE DO WE EXPECT TO BE AT EDMONTON?
“It’s a new track,” said Hampson. “No one has a setup for it. None of the drivers have ever been there. It’s anyone's race to win and a lot will depend upon who figures it out the quickest and who makes the fewest mistakes. Traditionally we've been pretty good at evolving the car thru the weekend. Hopefully that holds. It really helps that the old-guard Indy car teams don't have reams of setup books for this track, and that they won't have been testing here over and over. We probably stand a better chance this weekend than others.”

“At least as competitive as we have been this year, so we aim at the podium,” added Couprie on the team’s expectations at Edmonton. “Also we have very good records at new tracks, and we certainly put a lot of effort and science into them. I personally love the challenge of a new track!”

HAMPSON AND COUPRIE ON CARRYING OVER THE “ACTION” FROM TORONTO
“Edmonton is not going to be surrounded by walls, and the track is wider, so I don't think it will be yellow packed in the same way that Toronto was,” said Hampson. “I'm sure a few people may mess up the braking for Turns 1, 5, or 13. But as for "retaliation" -- I just don't see that happening. It’s too easy to damage your own car as well. The parts are so expensive, and getting in short supply as the life of the current Dallara winds down. If a driver decides to outright retaliate, it’s probably because he is too dim to see the big picture.

“But I DO think the race is going to be exciting, and that's because of the new track layout. Three long straights followed by three slow corners. That's three solid places to pass, which is better than almost anywhere else we go. Even if you don't qualify well, there will be chances to move forward. So I think the fans will be a lot of passing. I'm really pleased that the citizens of Edmonton reacted in the way that they did and that this race returned to our calendar. The crews and drivers like to go where we are wanted, where the fans come out and watch and care. I remember that in our first year in 2005 there was one practice where it was cold and raining and we couldn't even run the cars yet thousands of fans were up in the grandstands, hanging in there -- eager to see us. It makes you feel good. I think we should be able to repay them with an entertaining show.”

“I think Indy car turned into a contact sport in Toronto so only the future will tell us whether it was a one-off or not. Contact and acrimony make good headlines but on the other hand there is a good camaraderie between most drivers -- they know and respect one another. There is a good atmosphere in the paddock so I would think that the drivers will move on.”

By: newman/haas racing

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Series INDYCAR
Tags alberta, canada, edmonton, haas, hinchcliffe, indycar, newman, servia