After a closely fought Grand Prix in Monza, the US Grand Prix holds a critical key to the outcome of the 2003 FIA Formula One Championship. As every race has been contested with no decisive outcome in either the Constructors' or Drivers' title ...
After a closely fought Grand Prix in Monza, the US Grand Prix holds a critical key to the outcome of the 2003 FIA Formula One Championship. As every race has been contested with no decisive outcome in either the Constructors' or Drivers' title chase, the significance of the remaining two races has risen exponentially.
The teams and drivers who remain in contention are acutely conscious that wins and losses will come at the margins of performance, and no-one can afford anything less than a faultless race in Indianapolis.
Allied to this consideration is the relative lack of familiarity with the Brickyard's F1 layout, and the conflicting demands that long open straights and a twisty infield place on finding positive balance from a race car. The consequence of all of these considerations being thrown together is an expectation that the US Grand Prix will provide one of the most compelling events in recent F1 history.
Juan Pablo Montoya:
"I have some great memories from The Brickyard. First and foremost, my Indy 500 victory back in 2000 was very important to my career, and then of course my years in the CART series thereafter, particularily as my team at the time was based at Indianapolis.The atmosphere is simply fantastic, especially in the grandstands around the oval section which are usually packed with people waving flags and playing music. I consider Indy to be a home race for me so I feel I must give my supporters a good race and hopefully there will be many Colombians in the stands giving me support."
"Our car can definitely do well at the Speedway as the power of the BMW engine suits the long straight, so I am anticipating a close fight with our immediate rivals. We have two main targets to focus on now: the team needs to secure the Constructors' Championship and I have to close the gap to Michael in the Drivers' standings and, if possible, get ahead of him. We need to keep the ball rolling and make the most out of this race becaue Suzuka is a circuit that really suits Michael's driving style. I'll be heading out to Indy a few days early in order to acclimatise myself and to fulfill some marketing commitments."
"After missing the last race at Monza due to the accident I had at the test, I am sure that I will be 100% fit for the US Grand Prix - I am doing everything I can to achieve that. Indy is the home of US motor racing, so it is really something special to race there. I like the track because it has a lot of rhythm, is very quick and there are overtaking opportunities on the long straight as well as at the entrance of the parabolica."
"Indy is, however, a very demanding track from a technical point of view. For the long straight, when you drive at full throttle for more than 20 seconds, you need nothing else but sheer power and thanks to BMWs engine we fortunately have that. On the other hand, for the infield section, you really need maximum downforce through the several corners. As a result, achieving a good set-up of the car can be difficult. Last year was not so kind to us, and in particular me, and with the Championships so closely balanced, I think everybody will be careful this year."
Sam Michael (WilliamsF1, Chief Operations Engineer):
"Indianapolis is a unique circuit with a slow speed infield section followed by a long straight that goes through the oval - something that takes 22 seconds of full throttle. It is interesting for the driver and the engineers as most of the lap requires maximum downforce, while for the straight you want to run as little wing as possible."
"As the championship battle is so tight, any small error by the team will really hurt the title hopes. Points scored at the first Grand Prix are worth as much as the ones scored at the final races, however, at this time of the season there is not enough time for recovery."
"Strategy should be interesting at Indy as it has turned into a game of how little fuel you dare run. This is amplified when the cars and drivers are so close in terms of performance. We will be taking some new mechanical and aero components to help squeeze the last bit of performance out of the FW25 for these two vital final races."
Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director):
"If racing at Monza involved 73% full throttle over the course of a lap, then full throttle maintained for longer than 20 seconds along the slightly curved straight at Indianapolis has to be the decisive criteria for engine load. This is the longest open throttle duration of any current F1 circuit. BMW was extremely pleased to see Formula One return to America in 2000 as the United States is the biggest market for the company. And as a racing venue, Indianapolis is one of the brightest jewels in the F1 crown."
"From a technical perspective, the circuit is very demanding as it comprises sections of the legendary high-speed oval and an infield section with lots of bends. We have been working extremely hard recently and we are now in the fourth year of our Formula One project. The fact that we are in a position to fight for the Constructors' World Championship is the pinnacle of this continuous ascent. Aside from our dedicated commitment, luck will of course play a key role."