CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto: Top-three finishers press conference (part 2)

Continued from part 1. Q: Sebastien, you touched on it just a second ago in a joking fashion, but how much did the chaos going on behind you affect what you were doing and how aware of it where you? SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, apparently I...

Continued from part 1.

Q: Sebastien, you touched on it just a second ago in a joking fashion, but how much did the chaos going on behind you affect what you were doing and how aware of it where you?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, apparently I missed a lot of it. I saw it was bad, but when I hear the comments of P2 and P3 guys saying it must have been really bad out there. You know, I just really tried to keep my nose clean and just focused on what I was doing. You know, that was the key for me. There's been a lot of restarts, and it's always difficult with a bit of fatigue and everything. It's always possible to do a mistake. So that was really the only thing I had to do, to stay fast, but also keep the thing on the racetrack.

Q: Sebastien, it seems like your team really changed their pit stop strategy because it always seems that Paul Tracy's team has had him go longer than Newman/Haas to kind of get in front, yet it almost seems, I don't know if there was much risk in what you did, but can you explain why you made that change?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think we faked it a bit. This time we knew the window was really short at first because of the fact that we had -- you know, with the two-stop strategy, we had like a five-lap window also. Basically the buffer rule we were applying since the beginning of the year would not have prevented us really to get in trouble in case after late yellow.

We said, "You know what, we're going to try this time." You know, we pushed really hard on the first one, and then we've been able to be conservative on the second one because I was very fast. So I pulled away. Once the gap was built, we were able to pit early without exposing ourselves. I was pretty happy with how things went. But it might have been different, you know, if Paul and Wilson did not get into each other. I think when they did that, it really was much easier and straightforward for me. Obviously, you know, we are very fast, but it would have been probably harder.

Q: Sebastien, certainly you have a good run of luck here. Well-known in racing: Nothing is as easy as it looks. What have been the one or two major adjustments you've didn't compared to '03 that you've done this year?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I think I said we really improved the general street course setup over the winter. We applied kind of a different philosophy. The setup actually we have here is really, really, really close to what we had in Long Beach, so I'm really glad of that because that means we're not going to get lost in any kind of, you know, guessing process which is really confusing for a team.

When I showed up in Newman/Haas Racing, they were really able to give us and provide us some very good cars, but we had like 10 setups going on. And right now I'm really glad that we've achieved something, a very strong baseline that we know to work around and make it better on every racetrack. That's probably the biggest part of the success we have right now, both Bruno and I.

Q: All three of you, what do you each think of the 'push to pass' experiment and would you make any changes to the amount of time you have a 'push to pass'?

PATRICK CARPENTIER: To me it was fantastic. Some guys use it early on, some guys save it for the end. It's really different. I think that's why for sure there's a bit more crashes or guys that get together I think because of that, because it gives us the opportunity to make a pass, where normally it might not. It's not a lot, but it's enough to succeed making that pass or to keep from getting passed. To me it's a fantastic thing. It just makes the races more exciting.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I guess you've seen a lot of passing. That's just a result of that. Guys see opportunities because they can have a small advantage over the other guy. That's good enough to make a pass. I think, you know, Jimmy showed how good it was.

JIMMY VASSER: I think it's a great thing for the series. I think it's good for the young ones to connect with because it's like a video game, right? You can push the turbo boost, take off. I think in some places it's not as effective than it is in others. Perhaps maybe a little more boost (laughter). Tracy came up with an idea that maybe it was a good thing on the first lap, with full fuel, cold tires, cold brakes, some people are on it, some aren't, it could promote pile-ups. That might be something we need to look at. I thought it was a good point.

PATRICK CARPENTIER: It's good to have the back light flashing so everybody knows which one's using it and which one is not.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: At the end of the day, everybody is using it, so...

Q: Sebastien and Jimmy, we kind of seem to believe that you two guys were the only guys that didn't actually touch anybody during the race. Is that true? Did you get away without any contact?

JIMMY VASSER: I didn't touch anybody. No, I didn't touch anybody. Paint costs money, I don't want to get hit. I don't want to scratch the PKV Gulfstream.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, for me the only incident was with Paul when I got kind of slow at the apex of turn three at the start. It was already yellow, but looks like he didn't get the message. I was backing off, but he run into me. Not too bad. It was all right.

Q: From the point of view of you two guys and Jimmy, the last restart, any chance, were you worried at all about Jimmy at that point? Jimmy, did you have any feeling that you could do anything with Sebastien at that point?

JIMMY VASSER: I'll take it first. Sure, I'm always trying to stay with him, if he makes a mistake, to be open. But I was just trying to save my life through turn one. I mean, it was treacherous. I actually at the exit coming out of the back straight, I was trying to stay on the power because I didn't have any 'push to pass' left. They told me Hunter-Reay had 12 left. He had an opportunity, if he got a good exit, to have a run on me.

I was out of the power coming onto the back straight, completely in the marbles, trying to stay off the wall, figuring I was going to get overtaken. Sebastien was taking off. I looked at my mirrors. Much to my surprise, they weren't really there. I had seen the baloney going on with Carpentier and Hunter-Reay, and I was like, "Thank God, because I'm in no position to defend myself." Ironically when I got down to the back straight, I saw Sebastien all locked up going into the braking zone. In the final lap, I was like, "Nice if he carries on a little bit." It was a pretty tough restart lap. Not a lot of grip.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, the biggest problem was just that basically we've been piling up in the yellows, you know, and we could never really clean up the tires. So at the end of the day, you just have a bigger tires than usually. With no grip on it, it's marble, it was really tough. You needed two or three laps to really clean up the tires, and we never had a chance to do that in the last 15 laps.

You know, it just got harder and harder, and easier to do a mistake. I'm just glad, I really tried hard, you know, in the first lap, and obviously it worked out okay. I thought I had the control of the race, but I just was afraid to do a mistake over a patch, lose it, just end up in the wall. It's always the big problem.

Q: Jimmy, you said had you a pretty good view of some of the incidents. Would you tell us the best or worst one you saw?

JIMMY VASSER: I saw something with Carpentier and Tagliani.

PATRICK CARPENTIER: That was the wrong car. I was not in this one (laughter).

JIMMY VASSER: I was able to get by him. I think Tag hit the 'push to pass' from way far back coming onto the back straight. I think Pat had three car lengths on him. I was like, "Wow, that was pretty ambitious." But he was flashing all the way down the straightaway. By the time they got to the braking zone, Tag really tried to stick it in there, and Pat wanted to brake as late as he could. Tag kind of forced you into a mistake.

PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah. But he had the right to it, though. He was with the 'push to pass', I was trying to save mine a bit, and I never thought he would get it.

JIMMY VASSER: Came from a long ways.

PATRICK CARPENTIER: Came back from the braking zone. I couldn't stop.

JIMMY VASSER: I saw Hunter-Reay run into the back of Allmendinger. It was yellow. He just ran right into the back of him, spun him out. Allmendinger was really mad. When I drove by, he had two fists in the air, shaking them. Then Tracy and Wilson, I don't know who is at fault, but Wilson had a terrible accident off the concrete.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Got a wiggle or something. He was there. Suddenly when I looked in my rearview mirror, he wasn't there anymore.

JIMMY VASSER: He was very slow. So Tracy was all over him. So I was right behind that. It was a duel down into the corner. I saw what happened.

Q: Sebastien, it's halfway through the year now. You've got three wins in a row. You have the points lead. Are you hoping this is going to open up some doors in F1 for you? Are you hoping to stay here?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I think it's really early to talk about that. People are asking me the question a lot. I mean, even if people are talking about me in the Formula 1 paddock, that doesn't mean that teams are talking about me. The only thing I want to do right now is keep focused on what I'm doing. I have a job to perform. It's to win this championship. You know, if I have a shot in Formula 1, I have a shot. But I've been knocking at the door for a long time. I won the 3000, never got a chance. I got one, but the team collapsed like a month later. Since then I never really had another chance. I think it's really difficult to have one. If it comes, I will consider it. But, you know, first I have something to do and to do well for McDonald's, and I will do my best.

ERIC MAUK: Before we break this up, race day attendance, 72,561 today. Three-day total of 164,218. Thank you very much.

-ccws-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Paul Tracy