Notes from Vancouver Kristian Steenstrup, motorsport.com, Vancouver September 5, 1999 - Canada is famous for its ice skaters. The Vancouver race was a reflection of this national obsession. When Sunday dawned wet and grey everyone knew it was...
Notes from Vancouver
Kristian Steenstrup, motorsport.com, Vancouver September 5, 1999
- Canada is famous for its ice skaters. The Vancouver race was a reflection of this national obsession. When Sunday dawned wet and grey everyone knew it was going to be a messy day. The only drivers who thought it was a good omen were those optimistic ones that had qualified so badly that things could only go up.
- Moreno was all smiles on Sunday morning and seems to have an extra bounce in his step. He was carrying around a large chocolate car through the paddock for reasons unknown before breakfast, and later had his trademark grin on display when receive the Omega watch for fastest lap at the previous round in Chicago.
- The Hogan team had lost five engines in Castro-Neves' car up to Saturday afternoon. Castro-Neves was a bit nervous overnight about being able to start because of a misquote in the local press. It was made to appear that he was quite derogatory about Mercedes engines in a news report. But with five engines gone Hogan was subject to the largess of Mercedes for further spares and Castro-Neves was not helping.
- Magnussen was smiling after the warm up. He had said he car was like a pig in qualifying, but that he likes the rain. After the morning session on Sunday he said his only hope was rain and he was 'wishing it would piss down'. When he got his wish standing on the grid waiting to go off on the pace laps he was all thumbs up and laughing in the rain.
- Kim Green of Team Kool Green spent a few minutes discussing the EXACT rules of navigating the exit lane from the pits so he could relate it to his drivers. Of particular interest to him was whether the lines or the kerbs defined the boundary of the pit lane exit and whether the end of the exit lane would be less enforced than the beginning.
- Green also said they had not talked to Tracy and Franchitti about giving each other room at the start. Only that they had the dilemma of starting behind PJ Jones 'who had nothing to lose' and was not in the points hunt (as he announced in the Saturday press conference). But the opposing dilemma that they could not afford to let Montoya get away.
- The race started in torrential conditions and proceeded under yellow for many laps. The rain was so heavy they even enlisted sump pumps in the pits to clear out water.
- An interesting strategy was played out by the tail end runners in the opening laps. Because it was clear so many laps would run under yellow, those cars at the end of the queue had nothing to lose by coming in for a top up of fuel. This would allow them to run a little longer to the first fuel stop which in turn always gives an extra choice later in the race for stops affecting track position. The first of the early stoppers was Castro-Neves after just a handful of laps behind the pace car. He was followed in later by Richie Hearn, then Jan Magnussen. They ran so long under yellow that Castro-Neves actually came in again for a fuel top up.
- Naoki Hattori had what the Cart officials called 'a communication problem on the track which caused him to walk back to the pits. When he spun out the Cart rescue crew wanted to give him a tow. He wanted a push. He decided that he had to get out and walk back and did so. When he returned to the pits the team very stridently talked to Cart about returning the recovered car to the pits. A few minutes later Hattori and his car were reunited in the pits and he rejoined the fray. He didn't seem to keen to do so, and retired soon after.
- The early out of sequence stop for Magnussen paid a dividend late in the race. When he was becoming due for his final stop the rain was lightening considerably. There were wets tires on the pit wall, but dry tires joined them as the sky became lighter and the track dried. Finally the wets were returned behind the wall and the dry tires were taken out onto the pit lane. The decision had been made, and Magnussen got to seventh by the end of the race. This was his best ever finish in Cart. It looked more good luck than clever management that he could continue until it became dry, but the team was taking credit for it anyway.
- Montoya was majestic at the front of the field. Very often young rookie hot shots are undone when the weather calls for more patience and precision. Montoya proved he was something special by staying neat and tidy even when under pressure from Franchitti and Tracy. First Tracy went past only to spin three corners later, which Montoya said 'surprised me, but I was happy to see it'. Later Franchitti tried a desperate lunge, but it was Montoya who was able to continue unruffled as Franchitti spun after touching Montoya lightly.
- A few of the more experienced driver were seen pirouetting around the track. Unser Jr. was out early, as was Robby Gordon. Pruett had a spectacular spin and recovery at the first turn and Michael Andretti even managed to spin under yellows. Through all this Montoya appeared very stable.