INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2000 -- Quotes from prominent Formula One drivers, team owners and personalities about the return of F1 to the United States with the SAP United States Grand Prix on Sept. 24 at Indianapolis Motor ...
INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2000 -- Quotes from prominent Formula One drivers, team owners and personalities about the return of F1 to the United States with the SAP United States Grand Prix on Sept. 24 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
"I haven't seen the circuit in detail. I saw a map, but that is not enough
to judge it on. I am happy to go to America. It is a great country. We hope
we will have good racing there. I hope the circuit is going to be good and
safe. Once we get there, it will be racing as usual. What I love is the way
the American people are, and the way you can live while you are there. You
can take some vacation in the days before (the race), so I'm looking forward
to going there."
-- Michael Schumacher, driver, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
"I'm looking forward to going there because I did my first Grand Prix in the
U.S.A. in 1991 in Phoenix. So it is nice to go back to the States and race
there. We haven't raced at Indianapolis, so we don't know what the circuit
is going to be like, but I think it is going to be exciting. It will be
interesting to see what sort of welcome we will get and what kind of
following Formula One will get from the public. That is going to be
important for the continuation of Formula One in the U.S.A. I hope that the
people will get excited, and I hope at that circuit we will get a lot of
overtaking and exciting racing."
-- Mika Hakkinen, driver, West McLaren Mercedes
"It's great to go to the States. With Indy being one of the centers of
open-wheel racing, it is quite good to go there. The only disappointment is
that we are not going to be on the oval. So it is going to be strange to be
there. It should be great. I just hope that the American fans don't get
disappointed with the show because it is impossible to get the same kind of
overtaking on a road course as you get on an oval."
-- Jacques Villeneuve, driver, Lucky Strike BAR Honda; winner of 1995 Indianapolis 500
"I've seen some video footage of the track, and it looks quite technical in
the infield and quite challenging. And that is contrasted by running out
onto the main straight. I've heard various scary stories of the tire
pressures we need to run to handle the constant G that we are going to have
to pull through Turn One (of the oval). Ultimately it will probably be
similar form in terms of performance (between the cars) that we see during
the year. I'm looking forward to going there because I hear that they have
already sold 250,000 tickets, or something like that. I think that they only
charged a couple of bucks (for a ticket), so that is maybe the race I should
take all my family to!"
-- David Coulthard, driver, West McLaren Mercedes
"It's nice for Formula One to go back to America. It will be interesting to
see how the people receive us there and how many spectators there will be.
The circuit looks OK on the map, but you have to see in reality. I have gone
on holiday in America, and I like America, but it is always nice to go home
to Europe again. Last year I was in America for six weeks, and I had a great
time because it is totally different to what I am used to."
-- Ralf Schumacher, driver, BMW WilliamsF1
"I will turn up at the track on Tuesday and have a walk around it and just
have a look for bumps and things like that. Then I will get out on the track
as soon as I can in practice, which is what everybody will be doing, so
there is going to be a mad rush as soon as practice starts. The race should
be good fun. I really can't wait. It is a new track for everyone, so I will
not be at a disadvantage like I am at some tracks where the others have
raced before. It is going to be pretty spectacular, with the biggest race an
F1 race has ever had. Hopefully we can put on a good race for the fans. I
have raced in America before, in go-karts, on the road course at Charlotte
Motor Speedway in 1995 and 1996. I really like America. If I wasn't racing
in F1, I'd live in America, apart from England."
-- Jenson Button, driver, BMW WilliamsF1
"For me, it is fantastic to go back to America because America is a dream
country for us Europeans, especially people like me from an Italian family.
When we think of America, we think of dreams and good business, so I am
extremely happy to go there. I will be reminded of my battle (for the lead)
with Ayrton Senna in the 1991 Phoenix Grand Prix. I have been to
Indianapolis just once, and I did a lap of the (oval) track in a bus with a
lot of tourists!"
-- Jean Alesi, driver, Gauloises Prost Peugeot
"I am very much looking forward to that race. I guess everybody in Formula
One likes to go there again. It will be very interesting to see how the
people over there like Formula One racing. I have been to America twice
before because my brother was an exchange student in Florida. The track
looks good, but it is difficult to judge it by only looking at a map.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen has been there, and from what I heard he liked the
-- Nick Heidfeld, driver, Gauloises Prost Peugeot
"I always wanted to go and race in America, even when I was in go-karts, and
I never had the chance. So I am really looking forward to it. Finally I get
there. I have never been to Indianapolis before."
-- Mika Salo, driver, Red Bull Sauber Petronas
"It's a great opportunity to go back into America at the highest level
possible. I am sure that the Grand Prix teams will be trying their very best
to give great value for money. I am glad that the straight (at Indianapolis)
is very long so that people can pass. If it rains, it will be brilliant for
the fans that have never seen very quick racing cars race in the wet at
Indy. That should be quite a sight."
-- Frank Williams, team owner, BMW WilliamsF1
"For all of Formula One, it is important to go back to the United States.
For the American market, it is important for us even though America is
already Ferrari's number-one market. I am not sure that Formula One will
really change something for our sales, taking into account that we are
limited in the number of cars we can sell. So it is more important to make
Formula One important in the States because it probably the only country
where Formula One is not so important. Racing at Indianapolis will be very
interesting. There is a long stretch taken at full throttle, so it will be
interesting for the engine, as well."
-- Jean Todt, sporting director, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
"Speaking for Jaguar Racing, Jaguar Cars and the Ford Motor Company, we are
all happy that it is coming back to America. It has been gone too long.
America is potentially an attractive market for Formula One. I think that
there is more interest there than is commonly recognized. We are doing what
we can to properly inform the U.S. auto publications about the differences
and what it is about Formula One that is unique, so we go there with high
-- Neil Ressler, chairman and chief executive officer, Jaguar Racing
"For Formula One, it is very important to be in the States with a serious
race. Everybody knows about Indianapolis. I have heard that all the seats
are sold. America is something we are missing in our (schedule). If we
arrive in America at a crucial point in the championship, it should help a
lot to get more spectators and curiosity from the television and newspaper
coverage. I hope we can put one foot in Indianapolis and consolidate Formula
One's position in America."
-- Flavio Briatore, director, Mild Seven Benetton Playlife
"It is very important to come back to America because we have noticed an
increased interest from the sponsors in the American market. And
Indianapolis is the mecca for American motorsports, so it is very important
to be there."
-- Giancarlo Minardi, owner, Telefonica Minardi Fondmetal
"I worked (with March) at the Indy 500 for four years. It will be funny to
go there for only three days instead of the whole month of May. It will also
be funny to see the cars going so slow. But I am certainly looking forward
to going back. I have a lot of friends there. How the Americans find Formula
One is going to be pivotal because it is a very different type of spectator
sport from superspeedway Indy-type racing."
-- Adrian Newey, technical director, West McLaren Mercedes
"I am looking forward to it because we have not been back in America for a
long time. It is always a challenge to go to a new circuit. It is going to
come at a time that is quite critical in the championship. There will be the
challenge of coming to terms with a new circuit for the drivers and the
technicians at a time that is probably going to be quite crucial in the
championship. I hope it is a success. It is a different form of racing. But
we do seem to have a lot of enthusiasts in North America. A lot of people
come up to Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix."
-- Ross Brawn, technical director, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
"The first question is to know how good the track is, and we can only answer
that after the first lap. But this is secondary. What we are really happy
about is that we again have a Grand Prix in America, and that it will take
place in Indianapolis."
-- Peter Sauber, owner, Red Bull Sauber Petronas
"I think it is great that we are going back to America. I used to love
racing in Detroit and Phoenix. I've been to the Indy 500 a couple of times.
It is a brilliant event. To have such a huge crowd at the Grand Prix will
make a wonderful atmosphere. I have seen the new pits complex, and it is
very impressive. As for the track itself, I will reserve judgment on that
until we have seen the cars going around it. But having a United States
Grand Prix at Indianapolis is great for F1. I am certainly looking forward
to going there."
-- Martin Brundle, ITV commentator; former Formula One, sports car and IROC driver
"The United States is a very important market for us. We mainly sell
Firestone tires in the U.S.A, but now we are starting to promote the
Bridgestone brand, as well, through racing. Brand image-wise, racing is very
important for us as we supply Firestone tires to the IRL and CART and
Bridgestone tires to Formula One. Indy is a historic racing venue, and we
are very interested in racing Formula One there, as well as the Indy 500."
-- Horoshi Yasukawa, director, Bridgestone Motor Sport
"I think it's great to see a return of the Grand Prix to the United States.
There probably is not a better venue than Indianapolis because it's the
Brickyard and the home of American motor racing. I am looking forward to
watching the race on TV."
-- Ken Tyrrell, Formula One team owner from 1968-98
-Indianapolis Motor Speedway