The legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- the oldest motor-racing circuit in the world -- played host to the first United States Grand Prix for nine years in 2000 and was hailed as a great success. Tony George, head of the Speedway Corporation...
The legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- the oldest motor-racing circuit in the world -- played host to the first United States Grand Prix for nine years in 2000 and was hailed as a great success. Tony George, head of the Speedway Corporation and a descendant 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 Speedway by demolishing buildings, erecting a new pit complex and grandstands, and building a challenging road course that snakes through the infield but also utilises part of the fabled Indianapolis oval. Today's Formula One cars enter the banking between turns One and Two, before racing down part of the front straight, over the famous lines of bricks that mark the start-finish line and then diving back onto the infield section of the circuit.
* The Team
While Jacques Villeneuve is a past master of the track, this will be the first time that Olivier Panis has raced at 'The Brickyard'. Both drivers tested at Silverstone last week to give them the best possible chance of securing crucial Championship points this weekend.
"Last year's US Grand Prix was great fun and we achieved a good result here. We hope for an equally successful race here this year on the back of our points finish in Monza two weeks ago. The circuit presents a few interesting challenges for all teams but nothing that should dramatically affect the normal order of events. As usual, tyres will be a major factor in this Grand Prix. Generally, we go into this weekend feeling positive and hope we can translate our hard work in testing last week into another valuable points finish."
Jacques Villeneuve on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Last year saw the triumphant return of Formula One to America, however for one driver the atmosphere of The Brickyard and the passion of the American fans was nothing new. British American Racing Honda's Jacques Villeneuve had tasted it all before.
"It felt a little like a home Grand Prix because of the Canadian fans that came. Also the US fans know me quite well too. The crowds were great last year because, before, F1 in the States hasn't meant much."
On his first visit to Indianapolis in 1994, the experienced Al Unser Jr beat Jacques into second place by the narrowest of margins. A year later he became the youngest winner of the Indy 500 and the first Canadian to triumph at The Brickyard on his way to capturing the 1995 PPG Indy car title. To this day, his Indy 500 win remains a career highlight: "As far as racing goes, the Indy 500 had been the most significant race of my career. It got me into F1 and was then the most important race in the world."
Jacques remains a big fan of US racing and still tunes in whenever possible: "I watch it as often as I can. It was good fun and I still have great memories of racing on ovals."
Jacques acknowledges that the new for F1 version of Indy is a much different experience than blasting around the oval he knows and loves: "The F1 circuit doesn't feel like the same track at all. We do use one of the corners so when I go through there I have memories of how it used to be. You try to explain to other drivers what an oval represents and they can't grasp it. Only Montoya will really understand."
Last year, both cars came home in the points and Jacques will be looking to surpass his own fourth place finish: "It would be nice to finish on the podium and I'm positive that we can if we improve our qualifying performance."