THE CIRCUIT Tony George, head of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation and a descendent of the fabled Hulman family that for many years has steered the fortunes of the legendary American track, has created a world-class road racing...
Tony George, head of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation and a descendent of the fabled Hulman family that for many years has steered the fortunes of the legendary American track, has created a world-class road racing facility within the Speedway grounds. This snakes through the infield, but significantly, also makes use of part of the famous Indianapolis banking.
Compared with North American oval racers, though, the Formula One drivers race the "wrong way round" at the Speedway -- clockwise as opposed to counter-clockwise -- entering the banking between Turns One and Two, before racing down part of the front straight and over the historic line of bricks that marks the start-finish line. They then dive back down off the banking onto the tight infield section of the circuit.
The weekend started with optimism, but ended in disappointment. A strong Saturday qualifying session for Fernando Alonso saw the young Spaniard record the 17th fastest time of the afternoon, putting him ahead of both Arrows entries, a Prost and a BAR Honda. Alex Yoong looked set to improve his time on his final run, but his efforts were thwarted by yellow flags. He eventually claimed 22nd spot on the grid. Alonso retired on lap 36 of the race with a broken driveshaft, while Yoong stopped on lap 38 with gear selection problems.
"The US Grand Prix is a very, very special event. The history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway makes it arguably the most famous race track in the world, and it is almost sacred ground for American race fans! I was at last year's Grand Prix as Renault's reserve driver, and despite what had happened just a couple of weeks before, on September 11, everyone put on such a good show. Formula One only returned to the US three years ago, but the event is quickly becoming one of the favourite races of the year for the teams -- up there with Melbourne and Montreal. The circuit itself has a very good mix of high-speed stuff and a technical, twisty infield section. I can't wait to get out on the track on Friday!"
"We're flying out to the States on Monday, aboard one of Paul Stoddart's 747s, and once I'm there, I've got a busy media schedule lined up. One of my personal sponsors, Foster's, is involved with the USGP and has organised a number of different activities, including a media karting event on Thursday evening. Not that I'm going to be racing against the media, though, as there might be a few too many scores to settle -- I think the idea is just for me to set a time for them to beat! On Friday night, I'm off to watch the USAC Midgets race under the lights at the Indianapolis Park Speedway. That should be good fun, as I really enjoy watching oval racing, particularly on the dirt."
"I've just been relaxing in London and not doing much other than training since returning from Monza. Indianapolis is an interesting circuit to set the car up for. I think we will be playing a lot with wing levels in order to find the best compromise, as you need considerable downforce for the twisty infield section, but then want as little as possible for the long front straight. I enjoyed myself there last year and am looking forward to a good race."