CHAMPCAR/CART: Lexington: Friday top three press conference, part II

An interview with Patrick Carpentier Cristiano da Matta Christian Fittipaldi Part 2 of 2 Q: How is the Reynard chassis and what are your thoughts? Patrick Carpentier: We're pretty confident actually here. I think it's a track that suits...

An interview with
Patrick Carpentier
Cristiano da Matta
Christian Fittipaldi

Part 2 of 2

Q: How is the Reynard chassis and what are your thoughts?

Patrick Carpentier: We're pretty confident actually here. I think it's a track that suits the Reynard pretty well. The faster racetracks, like Mid-Ohio, Elkhart, Laguna Seca, Portland and Cleveland all seem to suit our car better.

What we're struggling with is more on the street circuits. We seem to be having a problem producing downforce at low speeds when the car needs to be a bit higher from the ground.

I'm pretty happy here, but we tested fast. We're hoping we're going to be fast. Team Player's is working really, really hard to develop the chassis and keep making it better. I think so far they've done a pretty good job.

Q: Can you comment on the traffic issues today?

Patrick Carpentier: I didn't think there was going to be that much traffic at the end. I thought on this type of track there would be more opportunity to run by ourselves. But it seems like everybody was kind of all around the same pace, and traffic played into it a little bit.

But from the time we did on the first set of tires to the second set of tires, that indicates to me it was better to wait today. It's always a risk you take. Sometimes it's better to get a clear lap than to get a little bit more rubber on the track.

Cristiano da Matta: I think this track, for a road course, it is a little bit more sensitive than other road courses. I'm not sure if it's because of the concrete patches. But I always feel like, even throughout the weekend, it's bigger difference here on lap time from Friday to Saturday to Sunday in this track than you usually see in other ones. So maybe that's why everybody was waiting all the way to the very end.

I think maybe there's a place, a road course, that makes it a little bit more different. I think this is the place.

Q: What are the chances you and Cristiano go out early tomorrow in order to avoid traffic?

Christian Fittipaldi: That's a good point. That's what we did in the last race. I don't know if you noticed, but both of us went out in the beginning of the session - I can't remember - five or 10 minutes into the session. I think that made everyone else come out after us. So it changed the whole format of how it was last time from Friday to Saturday.

But here I think the difference in the track from the beginning of the session until the end is a little bit bigger than in the last race. Historically in this place, the more rubber you have down, the quicker you go. It's not a matter of picking up one-tenth, sometimes without even touching a car, just because you run about 10 or 15 minutes later, there's a lot more grip out there, you go up to half a second quicker.

Merrill Cain: Cristiano, will the tactics change tomorrow?

Cristiano da Matta: I don't know. I wish it changed, but I don't want to be the first out (laughter).

Q: Any news on your situation for next season?

Patrick Carpentier: It's always a bit of a distraction when you're in the unknown. But I think that's life in racing. I think there are a lot of guys in the same situation. I think a lot of us won't know what's happening until later in the year.

I just have to drive the car the best I can and do the best job I can. Right now I'm trying to focus on getting as many points as possible and moving up in the championship. That's about the only thing that is going to work for me. Besides that, I've kind of been talking, a lot of people have been talking lately, but I don't know anything and I think it's a bit early.

I'm just going to drive the car and try to win races and get some points. We're going to see what happens more later in September and October.

Christian Fittipaldi:  The latest and greatest rumor out there, I heard
Pat being linked to a Newman/Haas drive.  That is true or not?

Patrick Carpentier: Next question.

Q: Will you try and improve your time tomorrow even though you're starting on the front row regardless?

Patrick Carpentier:  We're going to work hard.  We're going to try to get
another point.  If we can do that, to confirm it, that would be
fantastic.  If not, we're starting on the front row.  We're going to
try.  It's going to be a long race, so the tires are important to be in
good shape, too.  We're going to try to improve the car.

I mean, if I'm second tomorrow, but I'm a second and a half off of the top 10, then it's going to be a long race. We've got to keep working hard and try to get the pole again tomorrow.

Q: What are your thoughts on the increased race distances?

Cristiano da Matta: Personally, I think the races are getting a little too long. A race like Cleveland, for example, you see everybody was pretty much just waiting for the race to finish after the fourth pit stop.

I would prefer to have the races a little shorter like used to be in the past. I think we talked about that in the drivers meeting. Most of the drivers actually prefer it, too, because we have road races over two hours, two hours and 10 minutes. Normally the time for those things is an hour and a half or an hour and 45. It makes a difference for equipment, for reliability on the cars, engines and everything. It changes it a little bit. It's not so much of a sprint.

Patrick Carpentier: The thing is that Cleveland was really, really tough. I think this course is one of the toughest races we get all year because we're always turning, with elevation changes, hard braking and heavy G-loads. If it's really hot on Sunday, I think it's going to be a really tough race. It's a longer race. The pace, unfortunately, doesn't seem to be coming down at all. It's like every lap's like a qualifying lap. You run pretty hard. We have a stretch of four races. It's tough on the cars and everything.

Christian Fittipaldi: I'm not the best guy to answer you that question because my short races from next year onwards are probably going to be three and a half hours. So I'll pass on that one (laughter).

Q: So they wanted this race to be longer, maybe over 100 laps?

Cristiano da Matta: That's the same expression everybody used in the drivers meeting. They shortened the race 92, 93. It's a little bit better. [CART Chief Steward] Wally [Dallenbach] is taking care of us (laughter).

Merrill Cain: Gentlemen, thank you very much. Good luck in the final round of qualifying tomorrow.

-cart-

Top three press conference, part I

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Christian Fittipaldi , Cristiano da Matta