McIntosh reflects on Indonesian A1GP victory Montreal, Canada (February 17, 2006) -- Last weekend's eighth round of the A1 Grand Prix of Nations in Indonesia witnessed what was undoubtedly one of the drives of the season as A1 Team Canada's Sean...
McIntosh reflects on Indonesian A1GP victory
Montreal, Canada (February 17, 2006) -- Last weekend's eighth round of the A1 Grand Prix of Nations in Indonesia witnessed what was undoubtedly one of the drives of the season as A1 Team Canada's Sean McIntosh launched himself from the back of the starting grid to claim the Feature win 36-laps later.
In the process the 20-year-old from Vancouver overcame a drive-through penalty proving to be the class of the field as Canada became only the fifth nation to celebrate an A1GP victory in the inaugural season of the 'World Cup of Motorsport'. A solid top-ten runner at the Sentul International Circuit all weekend, McIntosh found himself at the wrong end of the grid for Sunday's Feature race having been forced to retire on the opening lap of the Sprint event following contact with the Malaysian entry.
Sean, a five-time winner in the 2005 Formula Renault UK Championship and series runner-up, rebounded in style to claim Canada's second A1GP podium finish of the season but more importantly their first standing on the top step. Looking back on a memorable weekend Sean took time out to review his success.
Q: Having had time to reflect on your victory in Indonesia, how does it feel to have won an A1GP race for A1 Team Canada?
SMc: I think the fact that I was racing for Canada makes this win extra special. It's an honor to represent your country and that's what A1GP is all about.
Q: How frustrating was it to start from the back of the grid?
SMc: It wasn't exactly frustrating to be honest because I was the one who put me in that position! I had nobody but myself to blame for going out in the Sprint race on the very first lap. I just had to refocus and drive as hard as I could to make up for it in the Feature race.
Q: Whose decision was it to pit on the second lap as soon as the safety car appeared?
SMc: The team and I had discussed coming in for my pit-stop early. We were really going to let the first couple of laps play out and see what position I was in. If it was worth getting out into clean air by pitting early then we were going to do it. When the safety car came out the crew made the call to pit.
Q: Did you feel your drive-through penalty was fair?
SMc: I didn't think it was fair but the stewards were in a very awkward position. I did cross the white line at the pit-exit which automatically warrants a penalty. But, I was also avoiding an accident because another car didn't obey that I was in the fast lane and had priority!
Q: When did you start to think you might have a chance of winning the race?
SMc: After the drive-through penalty I just put my head down and began passing as many people as I could. When the final safety car came out the team told me that Great Britain and South Africa hadn't pitted and that I was really in second place. I was faster than the Czech Republic car ahead of me so I knew I had a good chance of winning. Cont
Q: How good was the car and what was the difference in Indonesia?
SMc: The car was awesome in the Feature race. We were on the pace in Friday's wet practice sessions but struggled a little bit in dry qualifying. We weren't slow but we didn't have the pace to be on pole. On Saturday night the team had a think about everything and came up with some things to try. After retiring from the Sprint race we decided to take a little bit of a risk on the set-up and see what would happen, we didn't have much to lose starting last. It turned out to be a step in the right direction and the car was perfect and I was able to attack and pass for position.
Q: What was it like hearing 'Oh Canada' from the top step of the podium?
SMc: Well for sure we've been hearing the French national anthem a little bit too much in A1GP this season! You don't really appreciate how special it is to sing your national anthem on the podium until you actually experience it and it was definitely one of the best parts of winning the race. There were even a few Canadian fans down at the bottom of the podium singing with me!
Q: Did you think you'd be in with a shot of winning an A1GP race this season given the team came together a week before the opening round?
SMc: Our first goal heading into the season was to finish in the top-ten. Then after we scored our third-place podium in Germany our expectations were raised. We've been comfortably in the top-ten since then. Every team I've raced for and been successful with has had that will to win and put in the hard work to gain those results, A1 Team Canada is no exception. We didn't get to do any pre- season testing which has maybe hurt us a little bit but we haven't let that bother us. If you work hard enough good things happen and it all came together for us in Indonesia.
Q: Just how tough is the competition in A1GP?
SMc: A1GP is very unique because it brings together drivers from many different series. For example, this is the first time a driver with my experience, coming from a 200bhp Formula Renault car, is able to showcase their abilities on a level playing field against drivers with Formula One, IRL, Champ Car and GP2 experience. Guys like Jos Verstappen, Bryan Herta and Tomas Enge are all highly rated and this year I've been able to show that I can compete against them. The sharp end of the grid is as tough as any other high-profile international open-wheel racing series.
Q: You're handing over to Patrick Carpentier for Monterrey, Mexico (24-26 February), what can he expect and how do you rate your performance for A1 Team Canada so far?
SMc: Well for me Indonesia was the perfect way to hand over! I said before the weekend that I wanted to go out on a high before Patrick took over and I wanted to win races for the team. I think we proved in Indonesia that as a team and a package A1 Team Canada is capable of competing at the front. Patrick can expect the racing in Mexico to be pretty tough. Until you experience the level of competition and know how aggressive the driving is you can't really appreciate it. While I won't physically be in the car I'll still be there supporting Patrick and A1 Team Canada.