IZOD IndyCar Series: Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestlé
Topics: Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestlé
April 29, 2012
SAO PAULO, SAO PAULO
Q. Ryan (Untranslated)?
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY: Absolutely. Well, first of all, it's great to be in Brazil. We love coming down here to race. It makes for a fantastic event, some of the best racing that we have all year. Thank you for welcoming us to your country.
As a team, we absolutely love this track. We've been very good here every time we come. It's been a strong event for us, and once again, we were pretty strong today. But we're not really happy enough unless we win.
I was certainly going hard, giving Will Power every bit of fight that I had in me going into turn one. I tried to get him around the outside, but everything was clean. We all raced clean, and it was a good race. It was a lot of fun, but came up just a little bit short. We're happy to take the points, though.
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY: Well, we're certainly focusing on the championship this year. We're points racing. Last year at this time we were 20th in points going into Indianapolis. This year, I don't know where we are right now, fourth or fifth. So it's the way we wanted to start the season, and if we just keep consistently finishing on the podium, finishing in the Top 5 like we have been, then I think everything will be very good with three or four races left to go. So we take it one lap at a time, one race at a time. So we're not looking further into the future. Now we have our sights set on Indianapolis.
Q. Takuma Sato (Untranslated)?
TAKUMA SATO: Thank you. It's really great to be here. As Ryan said. But it's something like last year that I was leading the race a lot, but it didn't happen for us to win here. The weekend didn't start out in our favor. At practice, we had a few problems, and we had to start from the back of the grid. We found it very difficult.
It wasn't a strategy, to be honest, because we just needed to move up in position. But the first part of the race was really difficult, just hanging on. Then some opportunities after the pit stop, which we pitted earlier, which makes it a fuel stop strategy. And we need to work on that to be able to have success on that strategy. We have to overtake a lot, and you need to be premier to have a very good run.
It was very close, but at the last stage I got a penalty, and it dropped me right back, and the leader Will Power was catching, and I was almost lapped. But I was just hanging on till the yellow comes and that's what secured me.
In the end, it was just working on the time, and the one before the last, after the great opportunity with Helio and Dario Franchitti to go into turn one that I made the move from the inside and made it.
So that was really exciting, and I'm very excited to be here because we had a few problems in the start of the season. This is the first time I've seen a checkered flag. The first time this season, and to be in third place is fantastic.
So I would like to wish congratulations to a great team. We always need speed and finally we had a good result today.
Q. TAKUMA SATO (Untranslated)?
TAKUMA SATO: Yeah, I think everybody we've seen this year so far, there are so many actions on the track. The car has a very good design. It's not really affecting badly for the turns that are in front of the track, so you're actually able to follow the car very closely which makes a fantastic exciting race. Here in the last two seasons so many overtaking, for sure whatever the car is. But I was able to move up at St. Pete and last Long Beach I was able to overtake as well.
It was great to have the consistency in the braking, and the car was really good. Now, of course, we move into Indianapolis which is a completely different scenario. I don't know how you affect on this car on the oval, but I'm sure it will be an exciting race.
To be honest, the team didn't have as much of the experience in the last races on street and the road course, but we showed good speed and we showed some potential. 500 is different maybe in taking part a long time, and the great history with winning too. So I'm sure our engineer and the preparation for the car will be much stronger than the last four races, and certainly I'll try my best to go for the achievement we want in the Indy 500.
Q. Ryan Hunter‑Reay (Untranslated)?
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY: Yeah, absolutely. I really did enjoy this track. It's a beautiful street circuit. It's probably one of the nicest that we go to. It's very well done, very well thought out, and the passing zones are massive. So it makes for a great show for the fans and that's what's most important.
Fortunately, we found a good set‑up here that's worked. We missed it a little bit in qualifying, we weren't very happy about that, but we definitely stepped it up today, and we were challenging Will for the win. I knew I had to get him on a restart, and I tried my best there at the end.
I think it was a good show for the fans today, and that's what matters most.
Q. In all the races with Will Power trying to pass you, I'd like to ask if what is your opinion about being in the front of the race, there is no problem, no wind, the race could go and all that. Your opinion about that?
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY: First of all, Will is very strong here. The down force package and the grip that he had coming out of the corners, we couldn't top that. It was just so strong out of the corners, especially in turn four and turn ten where you set up the passing.
So I had a couple of laps on him, I was catching him on a couple of the laps. But there was no real chance to make a go at it.
As for the rain and the weather, we were expecting a total downpour all weekend, and for it to be only one session in wet conditions, if you made a bet with anybody in the IndyCar Series, everybody would have lost because they thought it was going to be wet all the time. So it was a nice surprise, and I think it made for a better race.
Q. Ryan (Untranslated)?
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY: It was certainly strong, very strong, and we've seen that in qualifying with Will Power and the Penske 12 team. They're very strong in qualifying. The pace that he had in qualifying was something that we couldn't even do even do. He did it on old tires in the Firestone Fast Six; we couldn't even do on new tires.
So he's got something clicking there very well. I don't think it's a coincidence at all that they've won as many as they've won this season. So what is it, 3 out of 4 they've won now? Yes. That's astonishing and certainly tough to beat.
If it weren't for Will Power, I'd have a quite a few more wins on my resume, for sure, so I'm not happy about it. But we need to beat him. That's the bottom line and we're trying our best. They've got something working right now, and they're taking advantage of it.
THE MODERATOR: Will Power, nice to have you here. (Untranslated).
WILL POWER: No, I wouldn't call it dominating at all. I was driving and giving it everything, absolutely everything I had to keep Ryan behind. I knew I had to pull some sort of gap, because if you keep him at tow, he would most definitely be able to pass me.
So it just happened to fall into a two‑stop strategy for Ryan and myself. I'm not sure about Takuma, but that was the right strategy, and we both had to save fuel but maintained a pretty good lap time. Yeah, just a solid day when you look at it, very solid, no mistakes.
WILL POWER: Yes, when I look at the last two seasons, the first one of the last two is definitely a weakness on ovals. But I would say last year that wasn't the case. It was just bad results were really bad. We won more races than anyone.
I just think we never expect‑‑ don't expect it, definitely not this year. We've had some great starts to this season, the last two years and fell short both times. So keep the head down, just try to enjoy it, enjoy my race.
After Vegas last year, really changed my outlook on things. I try to just enjoy each race, and you know, just have fun with it rather than be so intense about it.
TAKUMA SATO: I don't know. But last year we tried to qualify, but obviously it was a very different scenario. And Monday it was due to heavy rain. At least I was able to move up. It was the first time I put on a rain tire in an IndyCar race, and I enjoyed it. Like, Will said, enjoy the race, really, and that was the key.
This race course is really well done. Lots of tight corners, but the long straights with heavy braking, I was able to overtake the maneuver. And Will and I had a great restart, and at last I was leading the race. It was great fun. Unfortunately, today I made a mistake in the strategy or didn't work the strategy, that's why we didn't win.
But here we are. We come back again, and we started at the back of the grid, but reaching a third today was a great achievement for the team. I'm really proud of the team. The strategy worked really well.
We didn't have as much speed as these two guys today, but we came back in the race. That was a very, very strong recovery. So hopefully very soon we can challenge with these two guys, and the oval will make a very different scenario, so I'll keep on pushing.
TAKUMA SATO: I don't know how many laps I did. But just a few laps, and we kind of had to stop to check the gear box, which I wasn't really happy with. Then, of course, before the qualifier, six laps on the second session or third session, shall we say, then we had to program the engine. So we had to change the engine.
Then, in qualifying, I was very frustrated. And I didn't have a car knowing what you're going to have for the race because you never experience the tire, but the set‑up check you wanted in the package session.
But this morning we had a nice, dry practice session that we are able to feel the car's reaction, and both of the tires different. Unfortunately, the rain doesn't come, and I didn't feel the car. But the engineer was trying to make it happen with an unknown.
So you have to wait to see how the car reacts after the race start. So we gradually only can you do the tire pressure, and engine adjustment, which we both did on three stop strategy. But if you look at the props on the race start, in the beginning it was very struggling to overtake people, and perhaps we carried too much down force maybe.
But by the end of the day, I was able to move up quite a lot. This race stop strategy seems to be working well. And I was just about lapping me when I had a penalty, so it was lucky we didn't have a lap down, then it would have been impossible to be P3.
So both strategy and wheels, I think, were in our favor. In a pit stop, I was able to overtake. So like I said, it was an eventful adventure and very exciting race. In the end at the restart, it really helped me a lot. The restart the one before the last, that is the one I made the push. Otherwise I would have probably been P6 or something. I don't know.
It was a good day, a good day. I don't know. There is no secret for that, but we were very happy after today.
WILL POWER: Yeah, it's been such a different race every year. I don't think there is any secret to racing, but being mistake free, having the right strategy and having a good car and getting all the little details right when it comes to qualifying and laying down good laps.
I think that that's‑‑ you know what I mean, it is no secret. We have data that we can overlay amongst the teammates and understand where it can go quicker and where we're struggling. If we can put all that together, ultimately you're the quickest.
But racing, you need a bit of luck, good strategy, no mistakes, and that's how you win races.
Q. Sato (Untranslated)?
TAKUMA SATO: Okay, I knew that that was a very special day. I knew the oval was something completely different. Obviously to be at a very high speed, 340 kilometers or whatever it is, but it's different. The first time when I went to the oval, I thought I couldn't do it because it was so much different, but just gradually made it through. The engineer gave me the car actually driving an oval. Ultimately, you don't, really, because you try to make the car turn itself to minimize the struggle.
But the very first day, we had the car that I have to drive on the oval, just gradually my speed is moving up and moving up, and in the end I was very happy with it. After the first (Indiscernible). But the race is a very different scenario. You can drive the oval running around it by yourself after you run the test. For sure, it's easy.
But when you go to the race with the pack, and you need to know so many things, it took me quite a long time to get used to it. But now I have the two seasons with some proper experience on the ovals that I'm ready to try something to decide the race. It's just completely different. You have to know so much things, but in the end, after I experience this year, we're starting to enjoy it running side by side with high speed battles.
Q. Sato (Untranslated)?
TAKUMA SATO: Sure, it's been encouraging to be honest. This year in the beginning of the season I was able to lead the race. Ultimately, we didn't achieve what we wanted, but we showed a good performance. It's a one‑car team, and sometimes it's difficult, especially coming from last year, I know there is an advantage. Like Will explained, you can split the program with the testing and see where you're quick and where you're struggling and put all those things together. That was the whole idea of having a teammate. Especially this year, having a new car it is difficult to judge by yourself whether right or not, a lot of things you have to give up for the tradeoff.
But we showed a good performance so far, and I'm very happy with the challenge, and if the guy leading knows how to win the game. Although the time is different, he's very good on the strategy, and I'm very confident that we have such a strong engineering side.
So to be in the right car is a little difficult, but we'll get there with the 500, and hopefully that will boost it up a lot.
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY: First of all, every race we've had, we've missed Dan Wheldon. He's a great champion of our sport. We miss him every day, every hour. He's the defending Indianapolis 500 champion, so to not have him at Indy will be the hardest since Vegas. But he's been with us every step, inspiring us to go on.
Inherently what we do is very dangerous. It is. We have open cockpit cars. It's dangerous. It could happen here as a car goes flying over a fence, it could happen anywhere. All the drivers know that. It's very dangerous, number one. You could die any day on the job, and we all accept that.
But moving forward, to have enacted a couple of different procedures to‑‑ I should say, inhibit‑‑ to inhibit this from happening, to keep it from happening, we're trying to make it so we don't race so close together. But this car I think it will be good on an oval. It will be good, from what I've heard, a lot of drafting.
But we don't need three‑wide. As long as we don't have everybody stuck on top of each other, things will be okay. But I think the bottom line is that our sport is very dangerous, and it comes with it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, you guys. Congratulations for your results.
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