CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach: Top three finishers press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Compare this year's car to last year's car. SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It's still very much a Champ Car. I guess everybody's going to tell you the paddle shift system, when it works, it makes life a lot easier ...

Continued from part 1

Q: Compare this year's car to last year's car.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It's still very much a Champ Car. I guess everybody's going to tell you the paddle shift system, when it works, it makes life a lot easier physically. I think everybody got out of the car and it was a pretty easy day.

But it's still very much a Champ Car. You just can't do everything we used to at Newman/Haas. Identifying a problem and then fixing or making a new part, that you can't do. So you've just got to use the same equipment a little better than everybody else, and that's not easy. But I think we're getting there, and hopefully we're going to keep on getting better.

Q: Sebastien and Will, the start appeared to be a little ragged. You avoided what happened last year. Was there any confusion at the start?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't know. From what I could see, I was pretty happy. In my mirrors there were about three or four rows, I think. So we were ordered to have two car lengths between the rows, which I think is the way to go on that kind of, you know, start because otherwise everybody's bunched up and for sure it's the recipe for disaster. So, you know, once I kind of got going on the gas, I hold my line and that's it. But I never really quite checked my mirrors after that.

Q: Sebastien, obviously a different car from last year, but still perhaps a similar performance with the rest of the field. Is it a case of not transferring the settings from last year to this year but knowing what you need out of the car in terms of performance and feel during the course of the race that maybe transfers from last year to this year?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I think you're right. I think I kind of have the experience and I know what a good car at Long Beach feels like. And it's going to happen again at quite a few other places. So when you know what you're looking for, it's obviously a lot easier. But it doesn't mean you can achieve it all the time, so we're going to have to keep, you know, working at it.

Q: Will, as points leader here, what do you take out of this weekend that might be able to translate next week at Reliant Park?

WILL POWER: We had a quick car all weekend. We just, in qualifying yesterday, didn't get it quite right. Something happened in prequalifying, so we made a lot of adjustments to the car. Maybe we shouldn't have. But the car was still quick enough for pole. Today we had a quick enough car in the race. I just sat behind Alex Tagliani for the whole race. I was just coasting. You know, I could have kept with Sebastien no problem. I'm not sure that I could have gone to the same number with the fuel as him, but for sure we had a car good enough to keep with him. But, you know, I just sat. I could not pass. It was impossible. You know, it was just the last lap I had a shot at it.

Q: Will you take that to Houston?

WILL POWER: Yeah, basically we're just going to continue on what we're doing. We have a strong car. I think Houston's going to be a little bit more bumpy. But, yeah, we're going to take a similar car there because this is a street circuit and so is that. I'm confident we'll be strong there, as well.

Q: (Question to Sebastien regarding the use of the 'power to pass.)

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, I think it's always the same strategy: you use it when you need it. Up until the end of the race, I didn't really feel like I needed to protect or to do anything. I tried once on Tristan, and he was on it, too, so it was kind of a wash. After that, since he was going quite fast, I didn't try again. But, yeah, I mean, sometimes you make great use of it and sometimes it can't help you at all. So there's no need to melt the engine if you don't have to.

Q: Sebastien, this three-race stretch of street races in a row with new cars, it seemed like Las Vegas and here were not very filled with incidents, do you expect people will be bolder next week?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I think we are still kind of running low on spare parts (laughter). I think it's great for racing, to see all 17 cars go through the first turn without an incident. It puts on a much better show and a much better race. So hopefully people are going to, you know, keep their mind and hold their lines like they've done so far. I think it's been quite a good beginning of the season for Champ Car and it would be good if we could keep going this way.

Q: (No microphone.)

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't know. They were not talking to me much actually. I asked for updates a couple of times. I was a little surprised. Usually Kenny keeps me informed a little better. But I guess they were not -- they might have been busy on the other side. So I never heard of it. But they might have changed the strategy, yeah, for sure.

I was saving quite a bit of fuel, so might have given them quite a bit of flexibility.

Q: Oriol, the next-to-the-last restart, I guess your final pit stop, it all cycled out, you came out just head of Tagliani. Looked like he made an effort to get around you down in turn one. Take us through that.

ORIOL SERVIA: Yeah, I was on cold tires. Was faster that lap. We both were on the 'push to pass'. You cannot block. That's the rule. You got to keep your line. But, you know, he made a mistake that I had made in the past actually, which is, you know, to get out of the tow too soon and he got on my right. I stayed in the left.

He kind of put himself in that position. And it's something I've done here before, too. You know, the straight line is so long, the corner, that if you got a good tow, you're able to pull before you should. And he was on my right, so...

And then I think my car was a little faster, so I was just able to pull away a little bit.

Q: (Question to Will regarding the problem with the paddle shifter on the first restart.)

WILL POWER: No, it's strange. It's funny, sometimes on a certain total percentage, it won't go down or you'll get a neutral. I was fumbling around. I got on the throttle so late. Yeah, there was no way. I knew I was going to lose some positions then. So, you know, I think if I look at the data, I'd say I had my foot on the throttle when I went down gears and that's why I didn't go down. I got halfway around the corner, went out second, massive turbo, into first, then took off. It was just a really, really bad restart. I'll learn from it next time. I'll get into first a lot earlier.

Q: Didn't happen any other time?


Q: Sebastien, reliability was a question mark coming into this week. Did this race answer some questions there?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, I think we're always going to enter the races, until we get fewer problems, with our fingers crossed. I think there are still quite a few things to be fixed. We kind of discover things along, too, as we go through the races. I'm not going to go through the list because it's not up to me to give away any secrets we found on the car. But we keep on finding interesting things, I'd rather say. It's not always race-wrecking, but obviously when you have stuff breaking on the car, it's never quite reassuring.

Q: Oriol, talk about the middle pit stop.

ORIOL SERVIA: I mean, all my pit stops were great. No, we decided to pit early on the first yellow, so we were out of sequence. When you get in the back, usually you have higher probability to work on your way. And if it doesn't, you're already in the back. We had not much to lose there.

Q: What about the short fill?

ORIOL SERVIA: Nothing special. We just had a great pit stop, clean. We knew we had to have a good one there, and the team did perform a hundred percent.

Q: Sebastien, what does it say about the series that a guy like Oriol cannot get a ride?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It pisses me off, you know. I'm a good friend of Oriol, and I think he deserves a ride. I've been trying to help him out all winter. I'm not going to put a million dollars on the table to get him a ride either. It's a little difficult.

But, yeah, I don't think it's right. I think if we were a professional series, we should have professional drivers. And when you hear the figures and you hear people asking drivers $3 million to get into a ride, then it's not right. But obviously it looks like we're going to have to go through that before it gets better. So hopefully it will get better really soon.

Q: Sebastien, during the time you were behind the rookie Tristan, what were you thinking about? Did you think it was possible for him to make a mistake that would cost you the race?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I did think about that when I was pressuring him to try and go a little quicker so I could have a little bit of space with Oriol. I was feeling maybe you shouldn't be pressing him so hard because if he does stuff it in the tires, you end up in the back of his car, you're really going to look stupid. In the meantime I know Tristan is quite a good driver. He's got plenty of experience. But I also know he's pretty new to Champ Car. You do think about all those things when that kind of situation happens.

Q: Will, considering how strong you were last week and how strong you started out this week, were you rather surprised you didn't perform better? Were you expecting to win today?

WILL POWER: I was expecting a good fight with Sebastien. You know, my aim was to go to the same lap as him. When I made the mistake on the restart, that just totally finished my race. That was it. And Sebastien just took off. And I was stuck behind Alex.

You know, I mean, it sort of ruined a good race.  It would have been a
good race.  Early on I could easily stick behind him to save really good
fuel.  Yeah, I'm not that disappointed.

Q: Perhaps a side-by-side dash to the finish?

WILL POWER: He had plenty of 'push to pass'. I probably wouldn't have been able to get him. It came down to getting the pole yesterday because. You know, if you have the pole here, you have a very good chance of being first in the first corner. That was the case. Yeah, it's still a good weekend for us. We were just as quick as he was. I think that he's very good at saving fuel around this circuit. He's won the race three times. Not a massive surprise that he won it today.

ERIC MAUK: This brings an end to our press conference. Thank you very much. We go racing again next weekend in Houston.

-credit: ccws

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Tagliani