CHAMPCAR/CART: San Jose: Top three qualifiers press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Sebastien, a question concerning Formula One. Much earlier in the day at the German Grand Prix, Bernie Ecclestone was quoted saying he'd like to bring you over into Formula One in the coming future. Do you have any...

Continued from part 1

Q: Sebastien, a question concerning Formula One. Much earlier in the day at the German Grand Prix, Bernie Ecclestone was quoted saying he'd like to bring you over into Formula One in the coming future. Do you have any comment on that?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Going to Aguri Suzuki, right (laughter)? Your car that you've had for four years, you should have to pay the price when you go to Formula One - the opposite way.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Maybe I should stay here then (laughter). No, obviously everybody talked to me about that rumor, linking me to BMW. I have to be very honest, I don't know where this thing came from. I did talk to Mario Theissen, and I appreciate him a lot, we've been talking for the last year now. But, you know, as far as I'm concerned, we met again in Indy and nothing came out of it. I'd still like to have a test with any kind of good teams that could foresee me in their cars. It's very nice to see that Bernie is thinking of me. But right now nothing's materialized yet.

Q: For the layman watching out there at home, not as big of a race fan as here, what's the importance between you and the pit crew? You talk about going around, trying to qualify, increase the performance on your car. Can you speak a little bit about that?

PAUL TRACY: We're always relaying the information back and forth of what the car's doing, what we feel as a driver is our problem areas, where can we improve the time, where can we go faster, where can we pick up time. We're always looking for something on the telemetry, in terms of driver feel, where the driver could feel more comfortable to be able to go faster.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Come on, A.J., are you going to say "I agree" again (laughter)?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I agree - a lot (laughter). I think Paul covered it. It is a team sport. Although when we're in the car on the racetrack we're out there by ourselves, you know, without having a great engineering team and having a great relationship with them, you're never going to have a good car. Even if you have a good car and you come in the pits, your pit crew is slow, you're not going to win a race.

As much as it is a single sport when you're in the race car, it is a full-team effort. Without a great team and a great effort from everybody, every person on the team, you're never going to be able to win. You know, I think it's very important to have the best team out there.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: You see, you can do it. I agree. (laughter)

Q: Sebastien, two things. First of all, yesterday you were pretty unhappy with your braking and so forth. You complained about that. Is that much improved today? Is that fixed? Then the other thing was about two-thirds of the way through that last session, you had a big sideways moment at one point. We thought you were going to get the wall. You kept it off. Could you tell us about those two things?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, regarding the braking issues, I guess you can relate it very easily to the number of times I ended up in the escape road. This morning wasn't perfect. I still had a few occurrences. Yesterday was terrible. I spent half of my sessions in these things. During the qualifying, I didn't visit it, so it's a good sign.

Coming back to the moment, yeah, it was -- I was pretty close. You know, it was my last lap obviously on the first run. I was still getting a little bit quicker and quicker. I overshoot turn three. When I got in there, as soon as I turned in, the front didn't respond as I quite expected it. You know, when you go offline, it's just not a good deal. The thing didn't make the corner quite well. When I got back on the throttle to rotate it, it really turned around. Yeah, there's not so much room to do that kind of maneuver. It was pretty close call. That's what it's all about, getting to the limits without overshooting them.

Q: For all three, Paul had mentioned getting that extra five or six miles an hour, getting down to the end of the straight to the hairpin. You now don't have that chicane to deal with. Now you have the outside bumps. I noticed a lot of wheel lock on the right side, then a little hopping on the left side from most of the cars that were going through. How do each of you deal with that type of situation mentally? And then also for the car, how do you prepare for that?

PAUL TRACY: I think, you know, like you said, there's a fairly substantial bump on the outside right at the braking point into the hairpin. Sebastien had alluded to it earlier. The line kind of goes down the middle of the straightaway, then you kind of cut to the left after the bump for braking. You know, making a pass down the inside, you're going to be right up against the inside wall if you're side by side with somebody. So it's going to be hard.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, as I said, it depends a lot on what blocking is going to be issued like. If Tony says you got to stay on the left side if someone is running on your back, give him some room if he wants to try to do a move on you, yeah, it will probably happen. If he doesn't say anything, you can hold the middle of the straightaway, I guess that's going to become a little more critical.

It would be great. I guess that's probably one of the last improvements we could dream of for passing opportunities. If the main straight from the railroad tracks to turn one was really smooth, it would definitely elevate the issues we have and kind of generate some more passing opportunities.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I agree, again (laughter). They pretty much covered it. When you qualify third like this, they take all the good answers.

Q: You guys have all kind of alluded to the first turn and how tough it could be. What can you three do, since you're up front, to help make sure that everybody gets through there?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Well, Paul can move Sebastien in turn one. Helps me out a lot. What do you think? Yeah, no?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Don't think it's going to look a little too obvious (laughter)?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: No.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, I think we can -- Tony (Cotman) was talking about trying to get more space between the rows when I was talking to him about that start like a couple weeks back. I think it's probably the safest way to approach it without ruining the show. Obviously, I think the fans want to see a nice start, paired-up people and everything. If you lose half of the field at the first turn, I don't think you achieve much of anything if you start losing half of the crowd also after lap three.

It's a tough deal. You can see both ways: people coming here to see a big wreck at turn one, and people coming to see a nice race. We'll have to wait and see what Tony decides.

PAUL TRACY: Yeah, I mean, obviously we've been knocked out of the first corner a few times. After all the work you put in on the weekend, to lose out in the first corner is a shame. You know, I want to get through the first corner as well as everybody else because I feel that I have a good chance to score good points tomorrow. The last thing we want to do is have a problem.

Really we'll sit down, Sebastien, myself and Tony Cotman, and figure out what the best solution is to spread the field properly.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Again, I don't think people realize enough, like P.T. and I have been taking a lot of starts together. Usually it goes really well when we're starting up front. It's more the spring or accordion affect that goes from one row to another, like a neat pack, you have to end up breaking at marker 600 if everybody is bunched up.

PAUL TRACY: Really, the big danger zone is row three, four, five is where everybody wants to get racy and make a position. That's usually where the trouble starts. It's the guys at fifth, sixth, seventh is usually where all the action is.

Q: A.J., since you haven't been getting any questions, I thought I'd give you a chance to say something other than "I agree." How difficult is to run a fuel race yet to try to overtake these guys?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I mean, it's difficult. I think these guys said it the best. When you get an early yellow that makes us pit, it becomes in a way kind of boring for us because we're just saving fuel. We want to race, we want the best show for the fans is when we're pushing flat out. But there's always going to be fuel saving in a race. You're never going to get away from it because that's the best way to make a position is going one lap longer. It's been the races that we have that early yellow which allow us not to be able to race the second and third stint. A lot of it's based on the first stint, you know, how far you can go, and then you go racing from there.

You pace yourself off of what the car's giving you. You pace yourself off of what these guys in front of you are doing. When it comes down to the end, you're always going to be flat out by the end of the race. It's difficult, but that's the part of racing that you always have to learn and deal with. That's what has made Sebastien and Paul guys like Justin so good, because they know how to pace themselves, they know when to go and how much fuel to save. That's part of life. And you agree, that's good.

Q: Back to Justin, where he's starting. How tough is it if you start 12th?

PAUL TRACY: Well, it's not an easy position to be in, especially this is probably the worst track that you could start that far back in terms of getting by people. You know, Justin has struggled this weekend.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: That's the biggest problem.

PAUL TRACY: He hasn't been particularly fast this weekend. That was compounded by having a crash in the warmup. You know, he's in a tough spot obviously, starting 12th. He's been eighth, ninth quickest all weekend. Regardless of whether the crash or not, you know, that's pretty close to where he's been, so he's in a bit of a tough spot.

Q: If you were in the same car as him, the same situation, what would be your goal?

PAUL TRACY: I don't think I'd fit in the car with him. I'm a bit too big. He's too big and I'm too big. Maybe the new car, we'd both fit in (laughter).

Q: Do you gamble or...

PAUL TRACY: You just got to go for it. He can't afford to have an accident because he can lose 30 points in a heartbeat.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think, like any of the three, between A.J., Justin and I, we're in the same situation. When you're in an average or bad weekend, you just got to make the best out of it. That's what wins you a championship. If you can come out of this kind of weekend, you know, bring some 15 points home or 20 points, because it's going to be a tough race tomorrow, people are going to make mistakes and fall off. If you have a mistake-free race, you'll pick up some spots.

It's all about making sure you don't dig yourself even further, and just finish, finish, finish.

ERIC MAUK: All right. That will wrap it up. We go racing 97 laps tomorrow. We begin at 12:45. Thank you.

-ccws-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Aguri Suzuki , Mario Theissen , Bernie Ecclestone