An interview with Justin Wilson Indy Racing League Teleconference Transcript July 16, 2008 MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. We have several guests joining us ...
An interview with Justin Wilson
Indy Racing League Teleconference Transcript
July 16, 2008
MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. We have several guests joining us today. Starting the call with us is Firestone Indy Lights driver Ana Beatriz, and joining us in a few minutes will be IndyCar Series driver Justin Wilson.
Ladies and gentlemen, we're joined now by Justin Wilson. Good afternoon.
JUSTIN WILSON: Good afternoon.
MODERATOR: Thank you for giving us a call. Justin is in his first season in the IndyCar Series drivers newer Newman/Haas/Lanigan racing, has four top-10 finishes including seventh on the short ovals at Iowa and Richmond, and he's qualified in the top three at the two road-course events.
Prior to this season Justin competed for four years in Champ Car, recording wins and poles in each of the last four seasons and he also competed in Formula One in 2003.
We talked to you on the teleconference shortly after the unification announcement, right before the season started. Now that we're slightly past halfway, maybe kind of give us your impressions of how things have gone so far in 2008.
JUSTIN WILSON: Obviously we haven't had the results we were looking for. We knew it was going to be tough. We knew the situation was very difficult, and you know, this is just where we find ourselves. I think we're pretty much in line with what I expected through this transitioning year, and hopefully we can put it together in the next couple of courses and finally get on the podium and improve the results, because I feel we've shown well in a lot of races but don't have anything on paper to say that.
People that know, watching it, will understand what we've done, but to the casual fan they might not realize what we've gone through and what we've achieved.
The aim now is to try and translate that into something a little bit more substantial, and hopefully we can get some good results here.
MODERATOR: The remainder of the schedule has four road or street courses, two road courses, two street courses. You've qualified well on each of those types of courses this year, third on the Streets of St. Petersburg and second on the road course at Watkins Glen. Is there kind of a generally different approach to take between a road course vs. a street course?
JUSTIN WILSON: No, I think you approach both of them very similar. You go out there and you try and get a good setup and work through it. It's just the fact that we're coming from a background where we have setups for the road courses and we're able to translate them and work them out much quicker than we can with the ovals. We just don't have the experience, either myself or the team, to really advance our setup on the ovals in a tight time frame.
I think that's also a part of the schedule is the oval weekends generally are a little bit more rapid fire in the practice sessions and qualifying, whereas the road sessions seem to happen a little bit slower. You get a little bit more time to think about it and work a setup out, whereas on the ovals, you're on the backside the whole weekend.
It's just tough, and it's what we expected, and hopefully, like I said, this off-season -- in fact, before the off-season we have a couple of tests planned to really go and address that and work on our weak areas because we want to be out there winning races and fighting for the championship.
MODERATOR: This weekend will be your first visit to Mid-Ohio, although the team has raced there in the past with a different race car. What's the process that you go through personally and as a team when you prepare for a new track? And obviously, this year especially, about 10 of the 12 tracks have been new to you guys. How do you prepare to go to a new track?
JUSTIN WILSON: Well, in an ideal situation I like to run it on a simulator. I've got some software which I run and get to drive the tracks. Mid-Ohio unfortunately isn't on it yet, but instead of that, watch some videos, try and get some on-board laps from other people driving, even in saloon cars. It all helps to get familiar with the track. And then if we can look at some data, walk around the track, get a view from real life what it's going to look like and try and piece all that together so that when we go out there you're ready for it and you know what the picture looks like, you know which corners are intimidating and which ones are wide open and lots of runoff, so you get to build that picture pretty quick.
MODERATOR: After Mid-Ohio the IndyCar Series goes to Edmonton for the first time, but it's a place that you and several of the other drivers in the series have been to several times, and you especially have had some great success with a victory and two podium finishes there. Tell us a little bit about the circuit in Edmonton and your expectations for that weekend.
JUSTIN WILSON: Obviously this is going to be the first race that we're going to that we've really known the track and get to compete on our home soil, if you like, what we're used to doing.
In the past I've run strong there, and between Newman/Haas/Lanigan and myself, we've won all three races, so I'm hoping we can translate it into a good weekend.
It's a very fast circuit. It's an airport circuit with some sections that are like a permanent road circuit. And then there's other places which are like street circuits because you have the wall so close you can't afford to make a mistake.
I find it a really interesting track, and it's just getting the aggression down -- if you get too aggressive you're going to make a mistake and go off the road. If you don't push hard enough, you're just not going to be quick enough. It's a fun track and a fun setting.
MODERATOR: Yesterday it was announced that Paul Tracy would be back racing in Edmonton. What are your thoughts on his return for the race?
JUSTIN WILSON: I think it's going to be really interesting. Paul is always an interesting guy to be around and race against. He's a lot of fun. I like him and am looking forward to having him back, back behind the wheel.
In typical Paul fashion I expect a few fireworks along the way (laughing).
Q: It's been a long time since you've been out of Formula One. Is there anything that you miss about Formula One, obviously going back to Champ Car and your current IndyCar racing?
JUSTIN WILSON: Not really, no. I really enjoy the lifestyle and the type of racing over here in America. I find it a lot less politics involved. There's still quite a bit, but that's going to be racing no matter where you go.
But it's more down to getting in the car and racing and making the most of it. We all have the same equipment, same engine, the same tires, and I like being able to compete every weekend. So right now, no, I really enjoy it here and don't miss Formula One.
It's fun to look back on the Formula One days and think, 'That's great, I was there.' But at the time, you don't enjoy it. In this racing, you enjoy it while you do it.
Q: The other thing I wanted to ask you is other than the basic tracks and layouts from ovals to the street courses, do you find any big differences between the Champ Cars of last year and the IndyCars of this year?
JUSTIN WILSON: I'm really pleasantly surprised how well this car is on the road circuits. I really enjoy driving it, and it gives me good feedback, and it's a lot of fun. They're more similar than I expected.
The biggest difference is in the power delivery, the turbo, so that's the biggest thing to get used to. But other than that, it's got four wheels and I like to push it to the limit.
Q: How glad are you to have actually run across to a paddle shift this year and you didn't have to revert back to the old stick shift like they used last year?
JUSTIN WILSON: That's nice. It's nice to have the paddle shift. With my size, that makes life easier. It's one less thing to complicate the cockpit. On one hand you kind of miss the stick shift because it was a rhythm, a routine you had to get into and it was just one more thing the driver had to do. But this makes life a little easier for everyone.
Q: Without hard work in the garage and on the track, results just don't happen. Are good results just hard work meaning good luck or hard work overcoming bad luck?
JUSTIN WILSON: Well, it's a bit of everything. It's getting everything in order in the right situation, hard work. Everybody in the pits is working hard. But some people may be working hard in the wrong areas and the wrong direction, and that's what a good team can do is they've got the people that have the experience and are able to just put everything together. It's whoever is putting it all together the right way at the right time.
I think Newman/Haas/Lanigan have got some fantastic people, and I feel very privileged to drive the McDonald's car and go out there and be able to attack. From what I've seen, it's not that much different to what was happening in the other teams I drove for, but it's just the subtle details that make the difference, and that's what counts in this sport.
Continued in part 2