Champ Car World Series: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
Topics: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
April 15, 2007
LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA
ERIC MAUK: All right, ladies and gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post-race press conference. We have our top three finishers from today's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, second round of the 2007 Champ Car World Series campaign. I've been instructed to turn things over to Mr. Harris before I get started. Michael Harris.
MICHAEL HARRIS: For those of you who don't know, this is Eric's last official act as the Champ Car PR team. I just want to, as the representative of the masses of media here, thank you for your years of service here. You do a great job. We'll tell you we'll miss you on this side though we'll see you on the other side.
ERIC MAUK: Thank you very much. I'd like to thank Oriol for putting in the effort to come up and join us today.
We have our top-three finishers today. We'll start with our third-place finisher, driver of the #5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone for Team Australia, Will Power. Will's third career podium, second in a row to start the season. He holds a 19-point lead in the championship.
Will, before we talk about the overall day, talk about that last-lap pass to get you onto the podium.
WILL POWER: Yeah, I had 'push to pass' left. I got a really good exit. Yeah, I had a chance and I took it. It was a clean pass. No problem. Got round the corner. I must say, it felt like a more satisfying day than last week because it's such a hectic race for me. I made the mistake early in the race on the restart. I couldn't get first gear. I spent a lot of time, almost lost two spots. From then on, I was just fighting, sitting behind Tag, then Justin Wilson.
I had the car to do it. We had a really quick car. It's so hard to pass around here. I sat behind and saved fuel. It didn't matter in the end because we had a yellow stop anyway. So for me it was a busy day sitting behind cars. It was a good result in the end, good points, another podium. We can look forward to the next race.
ERIC MAUK: How important was it to you to come out and end up on the podium, run well today, given how well you ran last weekend?
WILL POWER: Yeah, it's important to be just consistently quick. And that's what we are. We've been quick in testing. We've been quick in every session. You know, we have this car sorted out. We're also learning new things all the time.
I think we're going to be strong all season. But I think other people are going to catch up, some of these rookies from Formula One are going to come on pretty strong, too, towards the end of the year or halfway through the year. I think it's going to be a really good, competitive championship.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations, good run today.
The runner-up in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, driver of the #3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, Oriol Servia. Oriol led seven laps on the day, earned his 14th career podium.
Oriol, unbelievable run, unbelievable day for you. Tell us a little how it feels to end up here after what you've been here through this week.
ORIOL SERVIA: Well, as you can only imagine, I wasn't expecting to be here. I wanted, but I wasn't expecting to be here when I came on Friday. So just very happy. You know, I mean, I was given the opportunity. And I knew that the car was going to be good and the team was going to do a good job. I knew that if I wasn't too rusty, I could do a good job, too. So, you know, I took the opportunity.
First I want to thank the whole Forsythe team and especially Mr. Forsythe for trusting that I could do the job. Then, as I said earlier, I want to really thank the fans because, you know, in Vegas was very hard for me just to walk around without a ride. And every step in the paddock, I would find a fan that would come to me and just give me their support. And same happened here on Friday. So that kept my, you know, energy and motivation up. And I want to thank them very much.
I want to thank Mr. da Matta for showing up today and throwing the green flag, who obviously gave me a lucky charm and I'm going to have to ask him to come to every race and do the same now (laughter). But I'm sure he won't agree because I'm sure he want to be on the grid soon. Not much else. Just very happy.
Just, you know, obviously I hope Paul gets back soon. I hope I find another ride. But I hope he gets back soon. He's a good friend. And I'm, you know -- you always feel bad when a driver gets hurt, and especially him.
ERIC MAUK: You pitted on lap 10 after Dominguez crashed. When the first set of stops cycled through after Sebastien had a big lead, cycled through, you found yourself up front. At what point did you know, Okay, I've made up those spots and I've got a chance to be up here the rest of the day?
ORIOL SERVIA: Well, to be honest, I didn't really know much. I knew I was out of sequence and I knew I was pushing hard at that time of the race. But I was on my own so I didn't really know if I was making much time or not. I didn't know what the lap times were.
You know, at Forsythe, they don't use too much the pit board. They go a lot with the radio. My volume was very low. I couldn't hear. Sorry, Neil Micklewright, but I couldn't hear one word of his advice today (laughter). So I didn't really know, you know, till we went on the restart and I just find myself behind Sebastien, then I realized I was second.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Great run today.
ORIOL SERVIA: Thank you.
ERIC MAUK: The winner of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach for the third consecutive year, the three-time defending champion of the Champ Car World Series, driver of the #1 McDonald's Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. It's his 24th career win. Moves him into a tie with Bobby Rahal for 12th on the all-time win list. His 36th career podium in just 61 Champ Car starts. He's the first driver to win three consecutive Long Beach Grand Prix since Al Unser, Jr. did it from '89 to '91. He led 58 laps on the day. That also moves him head of 'The Gasman' Tom Sneva for 16th on the all-time laps-led list for Champ Car.
Sebastien, you rebounded strong this weekend. How does it feel to come out and put one on top of the board?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It feels really good for the whole McDonald's team. They worked their tails off all winter and I really, really couldn't feel any worse than what I was feeling after Vegas, making all these mistakes. And I think we worked a little bit on the car to make me a little more comfortable and we got things figured out.
I can't thank the team hard enough for what they've done because, again, they went to bed way past midnight and woke up at 4 this morning and they were there at the track to get the cars ready. It's just unbelievable how much effort they put into it. It's really definitely a team effort that's been rewarded today and I really enjoyed the ride.
ERIC MAUK: Take us through that last lap restart.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I guess all the restarts today were a little tricky. First we were kind of getting the word late. Tony was trying to restart the race as early as possible. But also because of the cool temperatures, every time you would slow down, the restarts -- at the restart, the car was sliding all over the place, and especially at the hairpin. So it was a little bit of a struggle. I think Oriol nearly collected me when I slowed down to get the car to turn.
ORIOL SERVIA: I tried (laughter).
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: That's what it looked like.
But I knew if I could just get the car to turn and get a good launch of the hairpin, I was safe. But it didn't prove that easy. I'm just glad everything turned out all right and we just kind of turned things around a little bit.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Great run today.
Unofficially top five in points, Will is the points leader, he has a 15-point lead over Alex Tagliani. Will has 59 points, Alex Tagliani second with 44, Sebastien moves into third with 40, Bruno Junqueira fourth with 36, and Robert Doornbos is fifth with 35. Again we go racing next week at Reliant Park in Houston, the Grand Prix of Houston, race three of the 2007 season.
We'll take questions from the media.
Q. Oriol, when you got out of the car, first comment you made was something to the effect of, I keep proving myself. I wish it wasn't that way. How tough is it - obviously very tough - to have the performances you've had in the past and not be able to find a regular ride?
ORIOL SERVIA: Well, I don't know what else to add to your words, you know. Yeah, it is a little frustrating, especially, you know, I feel -- you know, I used the most of every opportunity I had in these seven seasons I've been in Champ Car. So as a driver you feel frustrated when you look, you know, 10 years back and you see drivers were making all those millions (laughter). You know, but --
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: You're not talking about me, are you (laughter)?
ORIOL SERVIA: But, you know, it is what it is. And, lucky for me, you know, I have a good family behind, you know, that supports me, good friends. And, as I said, the fans out there that, you know, just honestly I thought it was going to be a lot tougher.
I was talking to Vasser I think it was Friday or Saturday in Vegas. I told him, Hey, I should be feeling a lot worse. And I have a feeling that something good will happen. I was telling him, you know. And I may sound stupid, but I guess I better feel this way.
There's not much more I can say. I'm just going to try to do the best I can and it will be whatever it will be.
Q. Sebastien, your car was clearly the class of the field. So much faster than everybody else. Yet everyone is supposed to have the same equipment. What do you think was the difference?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't know. It doesn't take much, you know. These cars are very sensitive. Very little differences make a huge impact on how the car behaves on the track.
I think we really took it small step by small steps, and it really paid off this weekend. We got ourselves together and didn't panic after Vegas, which was really crucial because many teams could have completely blown up and, you know, fell apart, and we didn't. So I'm just really glad that we stayed together and got it done here again.
Q. Oriol, has Gerry said anything about being in the car next week or when Paul comes back? Anything at all about that?
ORIOL SERVIA: Not to me. I think he told Robin Miller that if I win at Houston, maybe I can keep the ride.
Q. Oriol, you started 14th and you finished 2nd. What did you have for breakfast?
ORIOL SERVIA: Breakfast in I didn't have McDonald's (laughter). I had nothing special.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Easy, easy (laughter).
ORIOL SERVIA: I had nothing special. Maybe I had something special Thursday night, but I cannot really say it.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: There's a pretty good story about that because Cristiano came to see me and he was like Oriol was just ready to go party and everything. He said, You never know, might something happen. And the next morning he's in the car. So actually it was a good thing he didn't go party all night.
ORIOL SERVIA: I didn't say that (laughter).
Q. Compare this year's car to last year's car.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It's still very much a Champ Car. I guess everybody's going to tell you the paddle shift system, when it works, it makes life a lot easier physically. I think everybody got out of the car and it was a pretty easy day.
But it's still very much a Champ Car. You just can't do everything we used to at Newman/Haas. Identifying a problem and then fixing or making a new part, that you can't do. So you've just got to use the same equipment a little better than everybody else, and that's not easy. But I think we're getting there, and hopefully we're going to keep on getting better.
Q. Sebastien and Will, the start appeared to be a little ragged. You avoided what happened last year. Was there any confusion at the start?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't know. From what I could see, I was pretty happy. In my mirrors there were about three or four rows, I think. So we were ordered to have two car lengths between the rows, which I think is the way to go on that kind of, you know, start because otherwise everybody's bunched up and for sure it's the recipe for disaster. So, you know, once I kind of got going on the gas, I hold my line and that's it. But I never really quite checked my mirrors after that.
Q. Sebastien, obviously a different car from last year, but still perhaps a similar performance with the rest of the field. Is it a case of not transferring the settings from last year to this year but knowing what you need out of the car in terms of performance and feel during the course of the race that maybe transfers from last year to this year?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I think you're right. I think I kind of have the experience and I know what a good car at Long Beach feels like. And it's going to happen again at quite a few other places. So when you know what you're looking for, it's obviously a lot easier.
But it doesn't mean you can achieve it all the time, so we're going to have to keep, you know, working at it.
Q. Will, as points leader here, what do you take out of this weekend that might be able to translate next week at Reliant Park?
WILL POWER: We had a quick car all weekend. We just, in qualifying yesterday, didn't get it quite right. Something happened in prequalifying, so we made a lot of adjustments to the car. Maybe we shouldn't have. But the car was still quick enough for pole. Today we had a quick enough car in the race. I just sat behind Alex Tagliani for the whole race. I was just coasting. You know, I could have kept with Sebastien no problem. I'm not sure that I could have gone to the same number with the fuel as him, but for sure we had a car good enough to keep with him. But, you know, I just sat. I could not pass. It was impossible. You know, it was just the last lap I had a shot at it.
Q. Will you take that to Houston?
WILL POWER: Yeah, basically we're just going to continue on what we're doing. We have a strong car. I think Houston's going to be a little bit more bumpy. But, yeah, we're going to take a similar car there because this is a street circuit and so is that. I'm confident we'll be strong there, as well.
Q. (Question to Sebastien regarding the use of the 'power to pass.)
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, I think it's always the same strategy: you use it when you need it. Up until the end of the race, I didn't really feel like I needed to protect or to do anything. I tried once on Tristan, and he was on it, too, so it was kind of a wash. After that, since he was going quite fast, I didn't try again.
But, yeah, I mean, sometimes you make great use of it and sometimes it can't help you at all. So there's no need to melt the engine if you don't have to.
Q. Sebastien, this three-race stretch of street races in a row with new cars, it seemed like Las Vegas and here were not very filled with incidents, do you expect people will be bolder next week?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I think we still kind of running low on spare parts (laughter). I think it's great for racing, to see all 17 cars go through the first turn without an incident. It puts on a much better show and a much better race. So hopefully people are going to, you know, keep their mind and hold their lines like they've done so far. I think it's been quite a good beginning of the season for Champ Car and it would be good if we could keep going this way.
Q. (No microphone.)
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't know. They were not talking to me much actually. I asked for updates a couple of times. I was a little surprised. Usually Kenny keeps me informed a little better. But I guess they were not -- they might have been busy on the other side. So I never heard of it. But they might have changed the strategy, yeah, for sure.
I was saving quite a bit of fuel, so might have given them quite a bit of flexibility.
Q. Oriol, the next-to-the-last restart, I guess your final pit stop, it all cycled out, you came out just head of Tagliani. Looked like he made an effort to get around you down in turn one. Take us through that.
ORIOL SERVIA: Yeah, I was on cold tires. Was faster that lap. We both were on the 'push to pass'. You cannot block. That's the rule. You got to keep your line. But, you know, he made a mistake that I had made in the past actually, which is, you know, to get out of the tow too soon and he got on my right. I stayed in the left.
He kind of put himself in that position. And it's something I've done here before, too. You know, the straight line is so long, the corner, that if you got a good tow, you're able to pull before you should. And he was on my right, so...
And then I think my car was a little faster, so I was just able to pull away a little bit.
Q. (Question to Will regarding the problem with the paddle shifter on the first restart.)
WILL POWER: No, it's strange. It's funny, sometimes on a certain total percentage, it won't go down or you'll get a mutual. I was fumbling around. I got on the throttle so late. Yeah, there was no way. I knew I was going to lose some positions then.
So, you know, I think if I look at the data, I'd say I had my foot on the throttle when I went down gears and that's why I didn't go down. I got halfway around the corner, went out second, massive turbo, into first, then took off. It was just a really, really bad restart. I'll learn from it next time. I'll get into first a lot earlier.
Q. Didn't happen any other time?
WILL POWER: No, no.
Q. Sebastien, reliability was a question mark coming into this week. Did this race answer some questions there?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, I think we're always going to enter the races, until we get fewer problems, with our fingers crossed. I think there are still quite a few things to be fixed. We kind of discover things along, too, as we go through the races. I'm not going to go through the list because it's not up to me to give away any secrets we found on the car. But we keep on finding interesting things, I'd rather say.
It's not always race-wrecking, but obviously when you have stuff breaking on the car, it's never quite reassuring.
Q. Oriol, talk about the middle pit stop.
ORIOL SERVIA: I mean, all my pit stops were great. No, we choose -- we decided to pit early on the first yellow, so we were out of sequence. When you get in the back, usually you have higher probability to work on your way. And if it doesn't, you're already in the back. We had not much to lose there.
Q. What about the short fill?
ORIOL SERVIA: Nothing special. We just had a great pit stop, clean. We knew we had to have a good one there, and the team did perform a hundred percent.
Q. Sebastien, what does it say about the series that a guy like Oriol cannot get a ride?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It pisses me off, you know. I'm a good friend of Oriol, and I think he deserves a ride. I've been trying to help him out all winter. I'm not going to put a million dollars on the table to get him a ride either. It's a little difficult.
But, yeah, I don't think it's right. I think if we were a professional series, we should have professional drivers. And when you hear the figures and you hear people asking drivers $3 million to get into a ride, then it's not right.
But obviously it looks like we're going to have to go through that before it gets better. So hopefully it will get better really soon.
Q. Sebastien, during the time you were behind the rookie Tristan, what were you thinking about? Did you think it was possible for him to make a mistake that would cost you the race?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I did think about that when I was pressuring him to try and go a little quicker so I could have a little bit of (indiscernible) with Oriol. I was feeling maybe you shouldn't be pressing him so hard because if he does stuff it in the tires, you end up in the back of his car, you're really going to look stupid.
In the meantime I know Tristan is quite a good driver. He's got plenty of experience. But I also know he's pretty new to Champ Car. You do think about all those things when that kind of situation happens.
Q. Will, considering how strong you were last week and how strong you started out this week, were you rather surprised you didn't perform better? Were you expecting to win today?
WILL POWER: I was expecting a good fight with Sebastien. You know, my aim was to go to the same lap as him. When I made the mistake on the restart, that just totally finished my race. That was it. And Sebastien just took off. And I was stuck behind Alex.
You know, I mean, it sort of ruined a good race. It would have been a good race. Early on I could easily stick behind him to save really good fuel. Yeah, I'm not that disappointed.
Q. Perhaps a side-by-side dash to the finish?
WILL POWER: He had plenty of 'push to pass'. I probably wouldn't have been able to get him. It came down to getting the pole yesterday because. You know, if you have the pole here, you have a very good chance of being first in the first corner. That was the case.
Yeah, I mean, it's still a good weekend for us. We were just as quick as he was. I think that he's very good at saving fuel around this circuit. He's won the race three times. Not a massive surprise that he won it today.
ERIC MAUK: This brings an end to our press conference. Thank you very much. We go racing again next weekend in Houston.
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