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Firestone Indy Lights: Grand Prix of Long Beach

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Grand Prix of Long Beach

Firestone Indy Lights: Grand Prix of Long Beach

Esteban Guerrieri
Sebastian Saavedra
Tristan Vautier
April 15, 2012


THE MODERATOR:  We're joined by our Grand Prix of Long Beach Firestone Indy Lights podium.  In third place we have Tristan Vautier, in second place Sebastian Saavedra and in third place Esteban Guerrieri.  Tristan, this is the third consecutive podium finish for you this season.  Talk about your great start to your season in Firestone Indy Lights. 
TRISTAN VAUTIER:  Yeah, it's been very good so far.  We had a very good speed on every circuit we've been to.  Been a tough weekend.  A lot of work for me today because I made a mistake yesterday, I crashed in qualifying, so my bad, and just got my fastest slot canceled and put me seventh on the grid.  So from that I am pretty happy to be on the podium.  I think it's a very good recovery. 
We had a good run at the start of the race.  We were down low and tried to pass, so of course I hurt my tires more than anyone else, so I was hanging on a bit.  But very happy to be on the podium.  A big thanks to the Schmidt guys.  It's very good to have an 11 car with Esteban winning and Sebastian with us on the podium again, so déjà‑vu as we were saying.  Big thanks to the guys for fixing my car yesterday, both during qualifying and pit lane in 15 minutes and yesterday night.  So I owe them a drink, and yeah, I will remember my mistake from yesterday, try and not do that again, and move on from there. 
It's interesting that we're all tied up in points.  I think Sebastian is one or two points ahead of me, and I'm very close with Esteban.  So very good.  I know we have to focus on the ovals.  A lot to learn.  It's going to be confusing for me.  We're going to Fontana on Tuesday, I think almost every team.  It's going to be my first laps in Indy Lights on an oval.  It's going to be very interesting.  And yeah, it's going to be a lot of work.  We're looking forward to being in Indianapolis for the Firestone Freedom 100, and thanks to Sam Schmidt Motorsports, thanks to Mazda Road to Indy and Mazdaspeed for allowing me to be here and to the invited guests that were my sponsor for the event and were here cheering for me all weekend.  It was very good. 
THE MODERATOR:  Sebastian, we'll move on to you.  This is a career best finish for you at Long Beach.  Your previous best finish was fourth in 2010, and it's also your third consecutive podium of the season, also off to a great start this season so far. 
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA:  Feels great, I'm telling you.  Again, congratulations to my good friends from Sam Schmidt to Guerrieri after a very good race for Tristan.  As he said, big déjà‑vu.  It's funny to say, 15 days ago when we were on the podium, Guerrieri came to me and said, okay, next time it's my time.  Well, here he is.  He completely did it, deserved it, and he did an awesome job there. 
From our side, the start was a bit tough.  I thought I had him for a while, and out of nowhere this guy just comes passing through me with no problem.  From then on we push each other to our limits.  Great race from Guerrieri not doing one mistake.  I was trying to push him to do that and it never happened.  Very happy for the points, to the whole AFS Andretti Autosport car No.27.  We're right now in the lead.  Not going to be easy.  These guys are pushing our limits, and we'll just try to keep going. 
Next up will be ovals, and I hope my experience on the ovals will pay off.  We'll try to bring the car home and try to continue working on a good year, three podiums out of three races means a lot to us, and it's time to celebrate, I guess, after a great weekend. 
THE MODERATOR:  Obviously you've now put a race down on all spots on the podium, third at St.Pete, first at Barber and second at Long Beach, so you're making your way around the podium. 
Esteban, this is your first win at Long Beach and your fourth career Firestone Indy Lights win, winning last year at Milwaukee, Edmonton and Trois Rivieres. And you finished  second in your only previous start here at Long Beach. How good does it finally feel to get up top? 
ESTEBAN GUERRIERI:  Yeah, it definitely feels very good after I think last year I started on pole and then couldn't manage a very good pace in the race.  But we got experience from last year.  We understood well probably how the tires would work, and we just went for low downforce setup to try to gain the position in the start from Sebastian, to be under pressure to race with those guys like him and like Sebastian and like Tristan, because there is respect there.  So it's good.  That's what you‑‑ mostly need, and more not on the ovals when you learn so quick.  So respect is the first thing, and I'm really happy for that. 
Then when I go to first position, just try to keep a good pace, like try to make a gap.  I just managed to do that, and then just stay about 2.5 to 3 seconds‑‑ I was pretty sure it was going to be a yellow flag, which came eventually, then after the restart I got a while for my tires to come in again, so I just tried to be cautious, not create any mistakes.  I knew Sebastian was pushing me, so I was putting times consistent, and I predicted that the tires would go away a bit in the end, which they did, they were a little bit fighting.  But it was good.  It's good for the Firestone Indy series that the tires go off in the end so you have to manage them, you have to think in the car.  It's not always 100 percent, and you have to drive it, which is the most difficult part. 
I'm very happy to be able to win.  My first win in the system.  I'm thankful to my sponsors from Argentina which only a month ago I wasn't here.  I wasn't going to do Indy Lights and then we put everything together.  So really thanks to my sponsor, to my country, of course, Latin America.  We've been here with Sebastian on the podium, so it's a surprise for Latin America, as well.  Thanks to all the people that came here, and let's keep pushing for the next races. 
The ovals, they are coming, so we try to learn as quick as we can and make the job the rest of (indiscernible). 

Q.  It looks like from the start of the race you did have that low downforce setup.  Looked like you were working hard behind the wheel to keep ahead of Sebastian.  Did you change your setup from qualifying into the race to go low downforce or did you run the same all weekend? 
ESTEBAN GUERRIERI:  Actually, yeah, we changed a bit of setup for the race, as I said, to try to manage a good start and try to get the run in to San Juan.  We achieved that, so that was good. 
Then I think, well, in my first stint let's say I could open a gap and then I could control it, which was great.  Then with the tires a little bit gone after the restart, after the yellows, then the tires were gone, so probably was less downforce obviously we'd have better speed on the straight but then we'd have to fight more on the corners so that's a compromise.  When Sebastian was pushing I didn't want to go over the limit because it was very close sometimes
Yeah, in the end we just did it like a good strategy I would say, and then in the end probably Sebastian knows something with the tires because he was pushing and I would open a gap again, five laps to go, and that was it. 

Q.  With five laps to go you were ahead of Sebastian by .57 seconds.  The next lap you were up by a second and a half.  What happened there? 
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA:  Of course I came to the position as I thought I could pass him, and I was pushing everything I had and tried to make him do something wrong. Of course we knew that we had no straightaway because we had more downforce in the car, and it was not going to happen on Turn 1 or on Turn 9.  So it was going to be a matter of him making a mistake and me passing through.  Never happened.  He drove a very clean race, and he came to a position that I made a small mistake on the fountain, lost a little bit of traction, and he took at least a half a second from my side, and I watched my mirror, so the third guy got behind me and said, it's not worth it, I'm not going to do any mistakes from now on, and I'm very happy with the points, and of course being in the lead for the championship means a lot, and that's what I wanted and that's what we achieved.

Q.  Tristan, how did you get the news that you were going to go to third place, and did they explain to you why you were bumping one place after Yacaman?
TRISTAN VAUTIER:  No, I got the news in Turn 10 after turning into pit lane.  I heard that he lost a mirror and got called into the pits, but he didn't have a spare one so they decided to rather have that view rather than pitting.  That's what I've heard.  But I've not heard anything official.  So good fortune for me I'd say, position on the podium.  So unfortunate for him, but that's part of racing, I guess. 

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