An interview with: SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS WILL POWER SIMON PAGENAUD THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland, Presented by LaSalle Bank. We'd like to welcome our top three qualifiers from today's ...
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland, Presented by LaSalle Bank. We'd like to welcome our top three qualifiers from today's qualifying session.
Earning the provisional pole and a starting spot on the front row for Sunday is driver of the #1 McDonald's Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. Qualifying second today, driver of the #5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone for Team Australia, Will Power, and his teammate, driver of the #15 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone for Team Australia, Simon Pagenaud, qualified third today.
We'll start with Simon. You ran in Atlantics. In the Champ Cars, how hard is it to run laps around this track without many reference markers?
SIMON PAGENAUD: That's a very good question. Basically this morning I came on this track, which I knew - I thought I knew it, but it was a lot narrow. Every corner popped up pretty quickly to my eye. I had to review my reference points, my brake points, all of that.
But after eight laps, I would get back to speed and was able to score a top five this morning. So I think we're already on a good pace. Can't wait for tomorrow already.
THE MODERATOR: Down to Will. You were the only driver here in the top three to actually improve your time when you went out for the second stint. You actually turned your top time on your 13th lap. How was it out there late in the session?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I mean, as the track gripped up it became a little bit more understeer. My first run, it's easy to overdrive this track because there's so much room on the entries. All I had to do was put a lap together. I sort of did that in the second run, but I still sort of just got to work things out a little bit better in my head, just do a nice neat lap.
THE MODERATOR: Sebastien, you guaranteed yourself a spot on the front row. The infamous turn one here. Is it good to be up front?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I don't know if there is a safe place, but I'd rather start on the front row than back in the pack. We'll see what happens. I think the McDonald's team did a good job. The car was pretty good. I think it was a little harder to do it on the second run because there was a lot of traffic and I didn't kind of slot in the right place on the racetrack. I had a slow car in front. You know, it was just kind of playing yo-yo a little bit.
It's never really easy when you can't put a string of laps around here. You really need to get in the rhythm and get it a little bit faster lap after lap. I think we were pretty lucky we held onto it on the last run. We'll see how it goes. But it seems to be going on for a good weekend.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.
Q. You all did a standing start in Portland, how do you think it is going to go here in Cleveland with Turn One?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I don't think it's going to have much of an affect on what happens in turn one. The truth is, it's still wide. It's very tempting. It funnels down. It's a pretty tight corner, especially when you can't take the line you're kind of used to all weekend long. Everybody just kind of feels like a hero in there. Look, I can brake later than the other, but just never makes it.
I mean, we'll see. But I'm not expecting a clean start. I think it's always going to be a little bit of a mess here anyways.
Q. Sebastien you are less than one second from the track record do you think you will beat it tomorrow?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't know. It's very close to last year. I'm actually a 10th and a half down from the pole I did last year on day one. You know, it's not like the car is really much quicker. You know, it's actually, I think since the beginning of the season, a touch slower than the Lola was. But it's only the first year. It's not like we can do a whole lot on the car. We can set it up, but not make it evolve, so it's a little difficult.
I think if the conditions are right tomorrow, yeah, it might be very close. It's hardly going to be automatic, that's for sure.
Q. Sebastien, why did you come to a stop in the practice before the qualifying session were you out of fuel?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, it was a new car because we had a problem on chassis No. 2, which is not a very good thing. Never good to get the first chassis anyway. We had to send it back. They sent us a new one. You know, we had to check the fuel pickup. We had to run it out of fuel at some point.
Q. Do you feel the car is slower here than earlier in the season?
WILL POWER: Just like Sebastien said, we can't do any wind tunnel testing. You're very restricted. It's not like the Lola where you can change a lot of bits and have special dips. Everybody's got the same. Basically you've just got to set the car up.
I thought these cars would be actually quicker on the faster circuits It's looking like they're basically the same speed.
Q. Simon, can you go through the problems you had on the red tires.
SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, it was not a problem, it's just that we had a very, very good run on the black tires right behind Sebastien. We were expecting to have a shot at the pole. We tried with red tires, which seemed a good strategy for tomorrow. Unfortunately, it didn't work the way we wanted. It's not a problem. It's just something we need to look at tonight.
We're going to try to understand the problem overnight and improve it for tomorrow. But it looks like here the blacks were a little bit better for the setup we have on our car. We'll see tomorrow. I hope that with more rubber on the track it should work better for the reds. Usually I really like these kind of tires. We'll see what did happen.
Q. Simon, do you feel as the races go by that you are creeping up on Sebastien?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Well, I hope you see I get more and more confident in the car. This car really suits my driving style now - especially with all the tests we did with Team Australia. We're trying to get the car -- it should fit better to my driving style. We're getting there. I feel very, very confident, especially on this track, which was the track where I did my first pole in Atlantic last year.
Hopefully we're going to have a great day tomorrow and we'll be able to get back to speed and try to worry Sebastien a little bit.
Q. Has it happened at other tracks where the red Bridgestone tires were not as quick as the blacks?
SIMON PAGENAUD: You know, red tires are pretty new for me. I don't have any experience in this series. It's kind of hard for me to say exactly what we will need to do. Usually the red tires work pretty well, especially for me in the race; I always use them really well.
I don't really know what happened today. We really need to look at that. Maybe I will be able to tell you tomorrow.
Q. Traditionally there are a lot of incidents here, are you surprised that the session went trouble free?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think control is, you know, kind of a very fine line between spinning and not spinning. A lot of people going in the grass, a lot of dust rising. Between keeping it straight and going for a spin, I don't think you can really say that. You might see a bunch of spins tomorrow when people start trying a little harder.
Historically they run just kind of a little quiet, and then everyone gets out of control, and in the race it's even worse. It's one of these places where you feel like you're pushing the limit more and more and more and more. Then you get close to the white line and you pass it. Once you cross it, it's too late. It's a fine line and a tough game.
Q. What is going on between turns 4 and 5?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think the crown is really, really pronounced. It's one of these places where you feel like the car grips up, you go over the crest, the crown, and it kind of washes out and you lose the grip very rapidly.
If you are already holding onto it and then all of a sudden the front steps out, it's wide, but at the speed we're traveling, it goes very quickly a few meters up the racetrack.
Q. Is it a taxiway?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I think it's the taxiway.
WILL POWER: Six and seven you're talking about or three and four?
Q. Coming out of four.
WILL POWER: It's a crown, but it's like all the exits six and seven, five and six the same. You come over the crown, you wash wide. You only have to put half a width of tire over, you get straight off in the grass.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think the biggest difference is at six; it's just wider.
WILL POWER: Yeah.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: You have a bit more room to recover from that.
Q. The new DP01 chassis was conceived to help provide more passing opportunities, what do you think?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think they've done their best to try and reduce, to rebalance things around, take more downforce from the bottom and a little less on the top. The truth is it's a very, very fast place. It's pretty hard to make a move here, because as soon as you get in the dirty air you lose the grip.
Even if you're quicker, if you manage to go just as fast as the car in front of you, when you get close, it's already an achievement because you lose about 20% of downforce the closer you get. I think that's the main worry.
But it seems to be a car that races a little nicer than the Lola. We've seen quite a bit of passing. In the meantime, it doesn't suck up, you know, as good as the Lola. It's very variable. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. I was a little surprised at Portland. It didn't just seem to really get you where you quite wanted to go, to get the move done.
Q. Do you feel the ability to pass in this car?
WILL POWER: I think they definitely got it right as far as when you get close, you don't have as much understeer, but you have just overall less grip. You know, it's also to do with the horsepower of the car. I mean, in a hairpin you can be almost touching the guy in front, but then the speed difference comes in because of so much the horsepower, you accelerate, and there's a massive gap.
I think when you get to this level of motorsport everyone is a pretty solid driver. It almost takes someone to make a mistake to pass. I think 'push to pass' helps, for sure, a little bit. But, you know, you're really relying on someone else's mistakes.
Q. How much push to pass this weekend?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: 60 seconds, as usual. I mean, there's only, I think, Elkhart and Mexico City.
Q. Sebastien, you are one of the guys that doesn't use a lot of push to pass, is it track related?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It's not track related really. You use it if there is any advantage in using it. Obviously, when you use it, you burn more fuel. If you're trying to go a lap further than everybody else, that doesn't help.
It's one of these things where you have to balance things around and really use it when you feel like you've got a shot or you're in danger.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys. Spectacular run by all three of you.