Champ Car World Series: Champ Car Mont-Tremblant
Topics: Champ Car Mont-Tremblant
July 1, 2007
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to the press conference today for Champ Car Mont-Tremblant. Our winner today is Robert Doornbos. Robert, you are the first rookie to win a Champ Car competition since 2002 in Australia when Mario Dominguez won also in a rain race.
Robert, what we're wondering about, what does it mean to get your first win on a track like this?
ROBERT DOORNBOS: Yeah, great. I mean, obviously every session this weekend we pushed very hard. We were very competitive in the dry, just qualifying fifth. Then the race got going. I felt very confident. This morning in warmup, we were fast. Yeah, the race pace was good. Obviously the weather conditions are very tricky. So when it starts to rain, some parts of the track on slick tires, it becomes a bit special. You have to stay very, very focused. Concentration is easily lost. Mistakes are easily made.
Then with the safety cars as well, to keep the heat in the tires, it's not easy. For sure the good drivers were up front and they did a good job.
Basically the circuit changes so much, the fight got very intense. At one stage we were fighting with four drivers to get back to the pits. We changed like four times positions. Must be great TV footage, great for the fans to watch. In the car it was very close.
We made it back to the pits, got the wets on. We lost two positions unfortunately. The mechanics had a slow stop, but we're going to work on that. Back on track we were just fighting again. In wet conditions I had to pass two guys who overtook me in the pits. Wheel against wheel again. So that was fun.
Then with all the spray, you need to get to the front to get in a good rhythm because otherwise you always miss your braking points. To cut a long story short, I'm very happy to get my first victory. The team deserves it and I feel I deserve it.
THE MODERATOR: You have 145 championship points, tied with Sebastien Bourdais for the championship lead. What does it mean to come into a series in your rookie year and be able to compete for the championship?
ROBERT DOORNBOS: Spectacular. No, it's a great feeling obviously. It's a new car, so that had a little bit of advantage last winter when I made the decision to come to Champ Car and combine it with my F1 activities with Red Bull. I was nervous because it's a new series, new circuits. I don't know the tracks. I don't know the drivers. I know they're competitive.
But the team was also new in the takeover. So, yeah, nothing was really in my favor. Yeah, I think we worked very hard during test sessions. And Michael Cannon deserves all the credit, my engineer. He's helping me through the race. He has so much experience winning, running at the front. It makes life easy for me. I feel very comfortable. I feel that I'm in control with the team. I can motivate them. Obviously the results, the mechanics, they deserve it as well. Yeah, I think we can continue like this.
THE MODERATOR: Sebastien, you finished second today. Had problems early in the race coming back to that restart. How did you fight back to get up to finish on the podium?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I guess in out bad luck we got a little lucky in the conditions, getting out of sync, cycling back to the front helped us. It's a bit of a shame. Obviously the McDonald's car was really, really good under dry conditions. Had it stayed this way, I think it was going to be a really, really good day for us. The boys had done a terrific job and the car was very, very good. We were getting good fuel mileage and good pace.
Then under the yellow, when the track started to get wet, you know, in some places, and they decided to restart the race, I was like, oh, boy that's going to be tough. I was the first one to discover the slippery conditions and I made a mistake. I went for the restart in 14. I wasn't really quick, but the car went straight and ended up in the gravel.
That was disappointing, but I knew the race was going to be long and we kept fighting for it. After that, the condition kept getting trickier and trickier. All of a sudden we saw ourselves in wets and close to the front. So it was looking fairly good.
Just Robert passed me very cleanly on the track. Just left the door open. I was kind of hoping he was going to do the same when at some point I was a little quicker behind him. But that's not what he did. That's the only reason I was very unhappy with him. Still is, obviously.
But that's the way it is. Apparently his F1 experience is playing a little bit. He's not quite used to the way we should be behaving on the racetrack when you're not supposed to move, which he done on three occasions. Race control let it slip. That's fine.
Anyway, he had the faster car. He seemed to do a great job. It's just a shame that as good a driver as he is, he had to do it this way. I think it would have been a much nicer win had he not done it.
But congratulations to all my competitors. I think it was a great race, and obviously a great show. When the conditions are like this, it's always very enjoyable to watch, I guess.
THE MODERATOR: Our third-place finisher is Will Power. Actually, you didn't start well at all. Talk about that, how you were able to fight back for the third-place finish.
WILL POWER: Yeah, I went past my grid, so I had to get it in reverse, trying to get it into first gear. By the time I look up, the third red lights are on. Straight to the floor realizing the light's going to go out in a sec. I think the reason I stalled is because the (indiscernible). So I stalled. Looked in my mirrors. People just missing me. I mean, I thought there was going to be a big accident.
So I took off and went into a lot of fuel save. We ended up -- I think we were running second for a while. This track is just so ridiculous with the weather. It's completely dry and sunny in one spot, then you get to the next corner and it's raining.
I spun. I think I went to the back again. Then there was, you know, a big scuffle of about five or six cars for the lead. Everyone in the pits got wets. The car was all right in the wet, you know. I think it was a lot about driving because everybody had the dry setup on. We ended up third.
The good thing about Champ Car is you just never give up. It's great like that. I mean, you can almost go a lap down and then come back and finish on the podium. It's just really, really good racing.
THE MODERATOR: Was it reassuring for you seeing all the cars in front of you were going off course when it started to get wet?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I enjoy seeing people go off in front of me because I gain a position (laughter). But, yeah, sorry. What can I say? Was it reassuring? Yeah.
THE MODERATOR: We have Simon Pagenaud, who finished fourth today. Team Australia are leading the Canadian Triple Crown standings.
SIMON PAGENAUD: It might be the first fourth car after a race to be with these guys. Pretty glad about that. Thank you.
I really enjoyed the race. As you saw, it was pretty fun with the weather change and everything. We had a great race car, great strategy. I stalled at the start, but we were able to catch up through good fuel mileage and a very good pace. It was a really good day, very fun. I really enjoyed myself, racing with Sebastien, Will and Robert. It was really good.
I'm just really glad to be a leader of the Triple Crown, which is the championship for the Canadian race. I'm going to try with Will to stay ahead and do our best in Toronto next week.
THE MODERATOR: With that we'll open the floor up to questions.
Q. (Question in French.)
ROBERT DOORNBOS: Thank you for the question. I'll answer in English. Of course, I'm very happy with the position I'm in. The team of Sebastien is a great team. They proved it with the hundredth victory in Portland. They're so well-organized. We can still learn from that as a team. We're definitely pushing to stay ahead or to stay close.
Still in the dry we could see at the beginning of the race they had a small advantage, us trying to hold up with them as well. But it wasn't that easy. I think the rest of the championship is going to be very tight. There's still some secrets to be learned about this car. Yeah, we just need to keep on working very hard at it.
Q. Robert, what do you have to answer to Sebastien about those criticisms, saying that you're not racing the way it's supposed to be in Champ Car? How different is it supposed to be? How are you taking this criticism? You did win the race.
ROBERT DOORNBOS: It's very easy. First of all, I'd like to thank Sebastien for all his compliments he made. He congratulate me.
I mean, I fully think that I deserve this victory. I'm very happy for this team and for myself. But to see what happened on track, I know that the rules in the U.S. are different, a different way of racing. In Europe, we race hard. In Formula One, we race hard. It's a sport.
At the end of the day, you're fighting -- you have to be selfish, you're fighting for your own positions. In the U.S. I have to respect the new rules. I paid the price last weekend in Cleveland where I felt that basically I made a mistake and the race director of Champ Car gave me a penalty, a drive-through, so my race was completely destroyed. With a bit of luck and good strategy, we got back on a good result.
So I am for sure respecting the rules of racing in the U.S. In these conditions, though, you cannot predict what happens because, like everybody says, you're driving on slick tires in the wet, you're driving on wets tires on parts of the track which are dry. You're all over the place looking for grip.
If Sebastien feels that he could have passed me, he should have done it. I felt I was quicker.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I only wish I could have. Had you not thrown me in the grass, maybe it would have been all right.
Q. Sebastien, when you went up on the podium, the fans booed you. I'd like to know what your reaction is to being booed when you finish second and you're series champion.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It's too bad, you know. What can I say? I just said things the way I feel they are. I'm just being honest with everybody. You know, I think I'm tall enough to say when I'm making something wrong. Just trying to be honest, that's all.
You know, it's a sport. It's true. There are some rules. We're all supposed to obey the same rules. That's it.
Q. Not to belabor the point, but standing in the pit lane watching the race and with the monitors on, I didn't see the incident that you're talking about.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Fair enough. It happened two times on track and once in the pits. I know exactly what happened. He knows exactly what happened. You know, after that, if race control did not see it either, sometimes it happens. You know, it doesn't stop me from saying what I feel. That's all. When it's dangerous, I feel like we're in sixth or seventh gear, somebody is trying to run you in the grass, to me that's not very safe. What am I going to say about it, you know?
Q. When did it happen?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Going into turn eight and two laps later going into turn 10 when I was on the 'push to pass'. He just ran me in the grass, so I had to back off. That's it.
You know, I'm not going to make a fuss about it. I'm just being honest, you know. All I can say is apparently being honest is not always serving you right, but that's the way I am. I've always been like that. So I'm not going to start lying to you guys because you want me to, that's all.
Q. Simon, can you describe the moment when you were leading and the moment that you lost the position.
SIMON PAGENAUD: That's a bad moment, you know (laughter). It's a very bad feeling. Well, no, the car was great. I was leading. The car was really good. I was pulling away. I think I went a little bit too hard on tires.
The car started going away a little bit. So I saw behind me that Robert was going back, was coming back on me, so I had to push harder. I think I just picked up the wrong place to push harder because you don't push harder in turn 14. I knew it, but I don't know why I did it.
I maybe braked two meters later and locked up the inside front, went straight in the grass. I was quite lucky to get back on track third because I could have hit the wall. But, you know, it's a little mistake which cost me a lot because the safety car was on the track right after, so I could have stayed up front. I think with the spray we had at the end, I could have led the race until the end.
You know, it has to be hard at the beginning of the season to get better after. I'm a believer of that. But, you know, we're improving and that's the most important thing at the moment.
Q. In a situation like the race we had today, from an enthusiasts standpoint when the cars almost never match the conditions, it seems like the perfect situation for the drivers to shine. Is it as frustrating for you folks as it is a delight for those of us watching?
ROBERT DOORNBOS: Well, of course, you know, it's not the best conditions to drive. You're driving very much on the limit. It's almost like you're gambling. With slick tires, when the corners are wet, you arrive, and there's a complete silence when the car is just sliding. You just hope it grips just to stay on the black stuff.
But on the other side, like you say is right. You can show off your talent. You can show off your car control. It is more fun to drive the car obviously in dry conditions or completely wet conditions. But I think races like this don't hurt Champ Car at all. It's very good for the spectators to watch. I mean, so many changing of positions and very close-wheel racing. I think all the drivers respect each other because no big accidents happened, so it's good.
Q. You passed Sebastien, it wasn't for the lead at the time, but ended up being for the lead. Can you describe the pass. What did it feel like to pass the three-time champion?
ROBERT DOORNBOS: I can't really remember. I passed many cars at one stage. We were all fighting and changing positions. Obviously, like I said, even with Justin, we had very close contact, wheel to wheel, I think we touched a little bit in the fourth gear corner, which is quite quick. With Sebastien, as well. There was no harm. We just passed, overtook each other. So perfect.
THE MODERATOR: With that we'll break off to one-on-one interviews.
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