This Week in Ford Racing August 24, 2004 Champ Car World Series Justin Wilson, driver of the No. 34 Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Lola, is recognized as a "rookie" by the Champ Car World Series; however, he has considerable experience racing in a ...
This Week in Ford Racing
August 24, 2004
Champ Car World Series
Justin Wilson, driver of the No. 34 Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Lola, is recognized as a "rookie" by the Champ Car World Series; however, he has considerable experience racing in a variety of European series. After capturing the 2001 FIA F3000 championship, Wilson made 16 Formula One starts last season with both Minardi and Jaguar Racing and tested a Champ Car with Newman/Haas Racing in 2003 before landing a full-time Champ Car ride in 2004. With five top-10 finishes in nine starts, including a season-best fifth in Portland, Wilson talks about making the adjustment to racing in Champ Car and the challenges he has faced.
Justin Wilson - No. 34 Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Lola
YOU'VE GOT NINE RACES UNDER YOUR BELT BEHIND THE WHEEL OF A CHAMP CAR, SO WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF THE SERIES?
"I was expecting good racing, a good level of competition, fun and challenging cars to drive and a good atmosphere and that's exactly what we've got. I really like the series, I really like the championship and how it works and it's a good place to be."
CAN YOU COMPARE AND CONTRAST WHAT A FAN MIGHT EXPERIENCE AT A FORMULA ONE RACE AND A CHAMP CAR RACE?
"I think the fans get a lot more out of the Champ Car races than they do at anything else. There's so much more happening at the track, there's so much more accessibility to the drivers, the teams and the cars, and if this was Formula One you'd never get this close."
DO YOU ENJOY BEING MORE INTERACTIVE WITH THE FANS?
"It doesn't bother me. I don't have a big ego like some people, so it's good for the fans. At the end of the day if the fans aren't here to watch the cars go around then we won't be here either, so this offers them the whole package. You have to look after the fans so they continue to come out to the races."
COMPARE AND CONTRAST CHAMP CAR AND YOUR EXPERIENCE IN FORMULA ONE. THE MOST OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE IS THAT CHAMP CAR IS A SINGLE-SUPPLIER SERIES WHILE FORMULA ONE IS PRETTY MUCH UNRESTRICTED IN THAT REGARD.
"In Formula One you have the cutting technology and all the money to go with it so there's a lot more politics involved. Over here it's still quite technical but there are a lot of restrictions to keep the costs from getting out of control."
SO HOW IS THE CHALLENGE DIFFERENT FOR YOU?
"As a driver it's a lot more challenging because you have no traction control, no power steering, no paddle shifters, and you have to do it all yourself. It's pretty challenging. There's a lot to take in and there's a lot more room for improvement because we rely more on mechanical grip than just on aerodynamics so you're always working on the setup and trying to engineer the car."
IS IT MORE PERSONALLY SATISFYING KNOWING THAT SO MUCH OF YOUR SUCCESS DEPENDS ON YOUR PERFORMANCE AS THE DRIVER AND NOT SO MUCH ON THE ABILITY OF THE CAR?
"Definitely. You feel a lot more involved with the team because it's a lot smaller than a Formula One team and you make more of a difference, so it's a nice feeling."
HOW HAVE YOU ADJUSTED TO RUNNING A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT COURSES - OVALS, ROAD COURSES AND STREET COURSES - AND THE STYLE OF RACING IT TAKES TO BE SUCCESSFUL? I IMAGINE YOU'VE BANGED A LOT MORE WHEELS THIS SEASON THAN PERHAPS YOU EXPECTED.
"I think it's fun. It's interesting to watch, to go from such a contrast in tracks. One week we're at Road America and the next week we're on the streets in Denver and it can't get much more different than that. And then you add some oval tracks in there so we get to experience a little bit of everything. And as you said, there's always a bit of contact, which always makes it interesting for everybody."
COMING FROM A BACKGROUND THAT SAW YOU COMPETE ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY ON PERMANENT ROAD COURSES, WHAT'S YOUR OPINION OF THE STREET CIRCUITS?
"Yeah, and each one is different. Most of them are good fun and quite entertaining to drive. Some of them are tricky to drive because of the concrete patches, but it depends on the circuit."
UP NEXT FOR YOU IS MONTREAL, WHICH MARKS THE FIRST TIME THIS SEASON YOU'RE GOING TO RACE ON A TRACK THAT YOU'VE COMPETED ON BEFORE. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE COURSE?
"I like the track. It's the only track that I will have driven on before this season so in that respect it's going to be a little bit easier. It's got long straights, quick chicanes a few tight corners and there's a bit of everything there and is quite enjoyable to drive."
HOW MUCH WILL YOU RELY UPON YOUR PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE?
"It's quite different so I won't be able to set the car up, but at least I'll know where to turn when I first go out there."
WHAT'S THE KEY TO GENERATING A GOOD LAP AROUND CIRCUIT GILLES VILLENEUVE?
"Straight-line speed is obviously very important because of the long straights, but also you need a car with good mechanical grip because there are a few tight corners and you need the car to hook up trying to get the traction coming out of the hairpin onto the straightaway. There's a few areas that are key to that track, like getting through some of the chicanes, and since there are only a couple of types of corners it's best to try and be good through each type in order to be quick."