US GP: Williams preview

The Event The legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the venue for the 10th round of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the United States Grand Prix, the second North American race in succession. Constructed in 1909 from 3.2 million...

The Event

The legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the venue for the 10th round of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the United States Grand Prix, the second North American race in succession. Constructed in 1909 from 3.2 million bricks (hence the nickname "the Brickyard"), Indianapolis has nearly a century of motorsport history and is also the largest spectator sporting facility in the world.

Despite its iconic status in the States as host to the Indy 500 and the Brickyard 400, Indianapolis only debuted on the Formula One calendar in 2000. With just five starts to date at the Brickyard, the WilliamsF1 Team will be seeking to capitalise on the inherent pace of the FW28 which was frustrated at last weekend's race in neighbouring Canada.

Between the races

Despite the American back-to-back not affording the team's drivers much downtime between races, Mark and Alex will join the Discovery Channel Pro Am Cycling team for three days at their training camp in Colorado Springs immediately after the Canadian GP.

The pair will participate in a special cycling meets motorsports athlete testing and training programme alongside two cyclists from the Discovery team, Tom Danielson and Jason McCartney, as well as three NASCAR drivers, Carl Edwards, Bobby Labonte and David Ragan. Meanwhile, Nico Rosberg turns 21 on Tuesday and will celebrate the occasion with his parents in the States before heading to Indianapolis on Wednesday.

Making the car go faster

Without time for a test session before the US Grand Prix, the team head to Indianapolis this weekend armed with data collated from recent test sessions and the updated components which were run on both FW28s in Canada.

Indianapolis from a technical perspective

Located in the state capital of Indiana, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the oldest motor racing circuit in the world but experienced major modifications in 1998 to accommodate Formula One, including reconstruction work to the original oval layout to incorporate an infield section. The drivers now negotiate 73, 2.6 mile laps consisting of 13 turns, nine right and four left, and some of the longest straights on the calendar.

Similar to Montréal, Indy is a power circuit which demands a medium downforce set-up, but its rhythm is broken by the twisty infield area where, contrastingly, good traction is key. Inevitably, finding a balance between the two will therefore be the challenge that the drivers and their engineers will face over the weekend.

Engine power is undoubtedly rewarded at this revered circuit which sees the cars reach 335km/h and endure 55% of the lap at full throttle. With such events lasting up to 23 seconds, the longest seen over the season, engines must be able to withstand the extremes of thermal and mechanical pressures.

The unique nature of the oval's 9° banking also places certain loadings on the tyres. Combined with an intense build up of heat from the high speed straights, reliable, softer rubber which offers grip in the infield section is critical to complete the challenge of one of America's finest institutions.

Mark Webber:

"It will be good to be back in America this week and I hope that we can put on a good show for the fans, they deserve it and Formula One needs it. As a team, we also need to do a lot better than we did in Canada, primarily by benefiting from a better tyre choice. I think we can be quite strong in Indianapolis, providing we make the right decisions in our preparations. I like racing in the US, even if the Speedway was not designed for Formula One cars, and I respect the history of the track. It's important that we come home with some points from these two flyaways."

Nico Rosberg:

"Again, Indy is a track I haven't yet raced at but one which I've learnt on the simulator. It seems to be quite different from the other circuits due to the very long straight and the banking. It will be interesting to see what Michelin and Bridgestone will come up with after what happened last year. I really hope that the fans will come back this year because I have watched several Indy 500 races on the TV and the atmosphere is just great with all those huge grandstands packed with people! For a driver, the bigger the crowd, the better it is!"

Sam Michael, Technical Director, WilliamsF1:

"Indianapolis is a unique circuit, one which has a slow speed infield section followed by a long straight that goes through the oval, with around 23 seconds of full throttle time. It is an interesting proposition for the drivers and the engineers because most of the lap requires maximum downforce while, for the straight, you want to run as little wing as possible. Minimising drag on this section will be important."

"We have analysed all the data from the last Grand Prix to ensure that we have a strong tyre choice with Bridgestone and we will take well tested and proven constructions to cope with the aggressive surface on the banking.

"Car specification for Indy will remain similar to that which we ran in Montréal as the downforce levels at both circuits are fairly similar to each other. Set-up will also be similar as both tracks are dominated by slow speed corners and fast straights."

Simon Corbyn, Head of F1 Race Engineering, Cosworth:

"The Formula One circuit at Indianapolis is a combination of the longest straight on the calendar and a tight infield section. It is therefore a demanding track for engine performance and reliability, while it's also challenging in terms of optimising the engine control systems."

"Both CA2006 Series 4 engines will carry over to their second race events at the US Grand Prix. Nico's engine did not suffer any damage from the accident in Canada so it will be a strong second event engine. Cosworth are proud to have a long history of success racing at the Brickyard. Let's see if we can add to it this weekend with WilliamsF1."


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Mark Webber , Nico Rosberg , Carl Edwards , David Ragan
Teams Williams