INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, April 24, 2006 - Life as an elite Formula One driver sometimes has its perks. Not only does Californian Scott Speed drive a fabulous car on the racetrack - his Scuderia Toro Rosso Cosworth - he also has a cool car to drive ...
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, April 24, 2006 - Life as an elite Formula One driver sometimes has its perks. Not only does Californian Scott Speed drive a fabulous car on the racetrack - his Scuderia Toro Rosso Cosworth - he also has a cool car to drive around Europe.
Red Bull drivers David Coulthard, Christian Klien, Tonio Liuzzi and Speed all have Maserati Gran Sport coupes to drive around Europe. An Austrian Maserati dealer loaned them the cars for the year. The drivers could choose the color of their cars, and Speed picked red.
Speed also tried his new motor home for the first time. Most F1 drivers stay in hotels on race weekends, but 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve, David Coulthard, Jenson Button and one or two others stay in their own motor homes at the track at the European races.
"The advantage is that you have less stress," Speed said. "You have your food exactly as you want it. You can travel light - your clothes are already there. It is easier, but we will see how it turns out. This is the first time we tried it."
Speaking of stress, Speed and Coulthard have smoothed things over following their run-in at an officials' meeting after the Australian Grand Prix.
"It is water under the bridge," Speed said. "I am over it."
Speed went into the San Marino Grand Prix weekend with loads of confidence.
"The confidence level is much higher," he said. "To go through the first three races without any huge mistakes or big crashes means that the confidence is building exponentially.
He was 23rd quickest in practice Friday, April 21.
"It's really hard to tell what our real performance level is at the moment," he said. "It's hard to compare with the others. The balance of our car is not too horrible. I think we are pretty close to where we need to be. It's the usual compromise on setup here to deal with the curbs, but our car is handling them quite well, although I don't know how we stand down the straightaways right now."
In qualifying on Saturday, April 22, Speed set the 18th-fastest time and just missed being in the group of 16 drivers that moved on to the second round of the session.
"I would have easily made it into the second part of the session, but I got held up at the chicane by someone trying to get a good lap," he said. "It's unfortunate, but that's the nature of qualifying this year, and we have to deal with it.
"The team is improving every day, as the whole setup was new at the start of the year. Now we have three races under our belt and are back close to home, the improvement in the way everyone is working is clear to see, and there's still more to come."
Speed finished 15th in the race Sunday, April 23.
"I might have passed (Nick) Heidfeld if I had not gotten so badly held up around the pit stops," he said. "I was unlucky in that I let Michael (Schumacher) by a couple of corners before he pitted so I lost about five seconds there, and then when I came out of the pits I had a bunch of traffic. The car's pace was good; we were quicker than Heidfeld and quick enough to keep up with our 'senior' Red Bull team! To add to my bad luck, my drinks bottle didn't work all race."
The next race is the European Grand Prix in Germany on May 7. Speed's home race, the United States Grand Prix, is July 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
2006 USGP tickets: Tickets are on sale for the 2006 United States Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday, July 2.
Fans can order tickets online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or at the ticket office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.
Hours for phone orders and the ticket office are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday, while online orders can be made at any time.