US GP: BAR preview

The Team Following an intensive period of testing in Spain this week, Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda now head to the United States for the penultimate race of the 2002 Formula One World Championship. The host city of Indianapolis, capital of the ...

The Team

Following an intensive period of testing in Spain this week, Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda now head to the United States for the penultimate race of the 2002 Formula One World Championship.

The host city of Indianapolis, capital of the corn-belt state of Indiana situated approximately four hours' drive south of Chicago, is synonymous with one thing - motor racing. The famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the home of the legendary Indy 500 race and has hosted the Formula One race since the purpose-built infield circuit was opened in 2000.

With the focus of the design team and factory build staff now firmly on next year's car, B.A.R will still be looking to boost their 2002 points tally in the remaining two races. A three-day test in Barcelona (18-20 September) saw both race drivers and test driver Anthony Davidson exploring tyre and aerodynamic configurations for Indy. They were also putting mileage on the latest evolution of the Honda engine, which will be used on all three days at the next race.

In the tightest turnaround period of the season, the race cars returned from Monza to B.A.R headquarters in Brackley at noon on Tuesday 15 September. They were stripped, painted, rebuilt, packed into bespoke pallets and back en route to Heathrow on the morning of Friday 19 September.

Collectively, the teams take enough paraphernalia to fill two Boeing 747s, which are chartered by Formula One Management. The freight is flown directly to Indianapolis and after clearing customs it will be transported to the track by the FOM for delivery on Monday morning. The cost of transporting everything to the racetrack averages $50 per kilogram of cargo and B.A.R alone are taking 22 tonnes!

Jacques Villeneuve finished in the points at the inaugural race in 2000. Last year, his race came to an abrupt end on lap 45 when the team chose to retire his BAR003 as a precaution following a collision with Pedro de la Rosa. Olivier Panis finish the race in 11th place. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a challenge that both drivers relish so they'll be looking for a better result next weekend.

David Richards, Team Principal

"Monza saw another small and very welcome step forward for B.A.R thanks to the latest evolution of the engine. Honda have been working extremely hard to continue development at a time when many other manufacturers have switched focus to next year."

"The team have done a great job this week, testing at two different venues and turning the cars around in such a short space of time. We have made good progress in preparation for this race and hope to maintain the momentum of a successful weekend in Monza."

"Indianapolis is like a second home race for Jacques, and Olivier will be buoyed by his excellent points- finish in Italy, so we're optimistic for the weekend ahead."

Jacques Villeneuve on the United States Grand Prix

"The F1 circuit in Indianapolis isn't a bad track, although I feel it's not as good as it could be. If I'd designed it I'd have used both straights on the oval, not just one of them. However, circuit design isn't my job! Sometimes I wonder how a Formula 1 car would behave on the oval itself. First, we'd need different tyres than the ones we currently use, and we'd have to change the set-up a lot. If you did all that, then I reckon it would be easy to go flat for the entire lap. We'd definitely be faster than a current Indy Racing League car. Sadly I doubt we'll ever get the chance to find out!"

"We had a lot of fun the first year that we raced at Indy, in 2000, because no one knew how to set up the cars. It was a circuit that we had never tested or raced at before. Since then, it's been much easier because we can now hone the cars pretty quickly. There's usually some close racing because the race is at the end of the season."

"It's nice to go to Indianapolis after Europe. It's enjoyable to race there - mostly because of all the American fans. The atmosphere outside the paddock is great."

Olivier Panis on the United States Grand Prix

"The part of the track that we run on in Indy is not used often, so the surface doesn't have much grip. This can make things particularly difficult if the car is oversteering. We have to find a compromise between running enough wing to give us some grip on the tight infield section and still being quick enough on the straight to be able to overtake if necessary."

"We have been working hard in Barcelona over the last week to find the best set-up, so I hope we will be able to make the best of the package that we have. After scoring a point in Monza, I know that we have the potential to do well in the last two races."

The Circuit

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the second oldest motor-racing venue currently in use, but the new 2,605-mile road course that snakes through the infield and utilises part of the fabled Indianapolis oval was only built in 2000.

Tony George, head of the Speedway Corporation and a descendent of the Hulman family that has steered the fortunes of the historic American track, pulled out all the stops to create a world-class racing circuit that could provide a permanent home for the US Grand Prix. In pursuit of that goal, he made radical changes to the original Speedway by demolishing buildings, erecting a new pit complex and grandstands, and building today's challenging road course.

Overtaking is much easier at Indianapolis than most tracks, with clear passing opportunities into Turn 1 and Turn 8, both second-gear corners preceded by long straights. The slowest part of the track is the 40 mph Turn 8, the first part of an extremely tight S-bend, while the fastest is Turn 13. This is the first corner of the speedway and is taken flat-out at 185mph in an F1 car.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Olivier Panis , Jacques Villeneuve , Anthony Davidson , Tony George , David Richards