Top-three press conference with Sebastien Bourdais, Bruno Junquiera and Oriol Servia Part 2 of 2 Mauk: We'll throw it open to questions for the media. Q: Sebastien, what has been the key to your early speed? Bourdais: I think Cristiano ...
Top-three press conference with Sebastien Bourdais, Bruno Junquiera and Oriol Servia
Part 2 of 2
Mauk: We'll throw it open to questions for the media.
Q: Sebastien, what has been the key to your early speed?
Bourdais: I think Cristiano proved last year the car was really good. They didn't win the championship only because Cristiano was good. I mean, it's always a package. Bruno and I are also good also, I hope. Hopefully we will use the material we have as well as possible. We just hope to be like this in occasions once again. It's also a confidence thing, like when everything goes well, it's a cycle. I think we are on the positive way, so let's just keep going like this.
Q: What are your thoughts on the St. Pete track?
Junqueira: As I said, I think this track is very good, a lot of satisfaction on turn 11, 12, that fast chicane is pretty cool. I'm quite happy because, to be true, last year when I went to Miami and Denver, the tracks were not that good, and they need a lot of changes for this year. But this track doesn't need any change for next year, I think. I don't know going out of the pits, maybe you can study something to be a little bit safer. Apart of that, the track is perfect. I'm quite happy that it's for sure one of the best street races of the year.
Servia: Yeah, I think about the same. To me, the best street race we go to is Australia, Surfers Paradise. This is not Australia, it's shorter. I think a good racetrack has to be a little longer. Apart from that, it's a perfect racetrack. As Bruno says, it needs no changes. Maybe for me the back chicane, it's fun, but they need to move the walls for next year so at least we don't have a big wreck there in the race if anything happens.
Q: Is it an exceptionally tight track?
Servia: It is very challenging. I mean, if any of you go there to watch the cars, I'm sure it's quite spectacular. Has to be.
Bourdais: I think it reminds me of La Piscine in Monaco a bit - even quicker.
Q: Sebastien, are the walls a big worry for you.
Bourdais: Not really. Once you did Macau once in your life, you will never get any trouble in a street course because it goes like wide as an airport and as small as the entrance of the building. You know, you don't struggle anymore.
Q: How do you feel about being the favorite this year?
Junqueira: I mean, as I said early on, Newman/Haas won the championship last year, and it's natural that you continue doing well this year. Same in Formula 1. As Oriol proved in spring training and today, he's fast. I think the Forsythe team will be fast, Adrian Fernandez, Jourdain. There's going to be a lot of competition. Jimmy Vasser. Don't think it's going to be easy. Like this morning, I was fourth quickest and the car wasn't that good, then we had to improve. I mean, it's not easy. For sure Newman/Haas has a very good setup, that helps. I have some experience. Sebastien is very fast. It's a good combination to get another good year. We have to work hard to do it.
Q: Did the rookie drivers cause much of a problem for you today?
Servia: I think it's not a problem. Actually, the biggest problem I had today in qualifying was many times with one of the most experienced drivers (laughter). I think as a rookie, they will make mistakes. This series is complicated. There are lots of things that you think you know, and suddenly they come to you. I think they are all very experienced and they are all quick. They are showing it.
Junqueira: So far I have no problems with the rookie drivers.
Bourdais: Just one.
Junqueira: Just one, Sebastien is going too fast maybe. He needs to slow down a little bit (laughter). I mean, on the track, I had to pass some of them. Every time they let me go. I mean, so far they are doing a good job. For sure, qualifying, I got traffic, and I had the red flag. When you put 19 cars in a one-minute track, it's always going to be difficult - especially when we start with cold tires, all these things. I think this is difficult, but they're doing a good job.
Q: Sebastien, is it a big change for you from the F3000 cars?
Bourdais: I would say it's a big F3000 car, not the one from the last year, but the one between 1999 and 2001. It's just like more the force and twice the power. Power is not always an issue. Power is something you get used to pretty easily. For the first time I jumped into the Champ Car, I was just getting back from Europe, testing the F1, so it was not a big deal.
It's more the weekend, the schedule, the organization, the general way of how it works, which is different. No, I don't have big problems about the car. I think it's just quicker, and that's about it. It's more technical. It's always more interesting.
Q: Are you surprised by your quick start?
Bourdais: I don't know. Last year I did four poles out of five on the first half of the season. The car was really good. I think it's an exercise I really appreciate. Today we were able to succeed very well. I just hope to continue like this. But for sure to be compared as a Mansell, it's really nice definitely.
Q: Are you enjoying the track?
Servia: I think it's a driver's track. It's one of those places, at least for me, that you can really attack, you can really enjoy, go fast.
Junqueira: I think it's technical, especially on the fast chicane. For sure it's not like a road course like Road America or Mexico City. But I think for a street track, it's quite technical. It's quite challenging. Fast corners, slow corners, medium corners. You have everything here.
Bourdais: I agree. There's a lot of variety. You have slow, medium and quick corners. We really enjoy. With the short track we have, to have such a diversity, it's really nice.
Q: Has the loss of traction control made much of a difference?
Junqueira: I mean, the cars are a little bit more difficult. I think just once I went straight on turn seven this morning. Lock the wheels, yes. I mean, I'm pushing, trying. Now I'm pushing more on the brakes than before and locking more. I think this track is difficult. You have to go to brake really hard on turn one, turn four. You have big braking, then high-speed corners. This year with no traction control, it's really difficult, especially the last turn, because the track has been repaved, just the airport runway is a different pavement. When you come out of the last turn, the front tires get on the airport pavement, then you get more grip, then suddenly it just snaps, it's really difficult to do the last turn. Same as braking to turn one because you brake with one level grip, then you have a transition between concrete and asphalt, then you lose a little bit of grip. It's kind of difficult to find a good balance to be good on these transitions.
Mauk: That concludes our press conference today. Thank you, gentlemen. Congratulations. Tomorrow the Champ Cars are back on the track at 10 a.m. Final qualifying takes place at 1:45.