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article details
Author floundericiousMI
Categories Honda F1, News, Race Reports, BAR Specific, Motorsports
Create Date October 02, 2002 18:30
Last Update November 08, 2002 14:35
USGP Race Review


Jacques battling with Montoya

RACE REPORT - USGP

Last weekend was a weekend of firsts for me... I got to go to my first Formula 1 race AND make my first trip to the historical and exciting Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The weather was gorgeous all three days, with the exception of rain early on Friday morning.

The IMS Formula 1 circuit is rather boring to watch for much of each lap, but it does have its truly special parts. The sections I'm thinking of are the front straight plus its first two turns and the section right before that where the cars come ripping out of the infield up onto the oval. Other than those two sections, the lap is mostly "follow the leader" as the cars are seemingly always turning.

A typical lap of Indy takes the cars screaming down the front straight to trip the timing clock at the start/finish lines. As they approach the first corner, they are moving at over 190mph. This is an area that is a bit precarious at times, as it is also the exact end of the pit-out lane. Coming into the braking zone, you can hear the cars let off the throttle and throw out the anchors at the 100meter mark. About a second later, and they're going under 60mph entering turn 1.

Coming through turn 1, a sharp right hander, the cars are all fishtailing with big time oversteer. You can see the drivers really fighting the car to get it turned in and settled before having to sling it hard back to the left for turn 2. As the cars come clear of the apex at turn 2, they fight for grip and the traction control systems are put to the test as the drivers try to put full power down at the edge of the track. This right-left complex, I think, really determines who will be fast in the first sector.

As the power comes on, the cars launch around the large-radius turn 3 corner and down a very short straight. At the end of this straight, the cars slow dramatically before taking the very sharp right hander at turn 4 and running flat out through the sharp right hand jog (turn 5) and straight leading into the "S" corners of turns 6 and 7. These two corners are very slow and seemingly awkward compared to the bits before, as you can see the cars don't have adequate downforce for the speeds the drivers want to carry through 6-7.

After sliding through turn 7, the cars slam on the throttle for the run up Hulman Ave. Upon reaching the Bridgestone pedestrian bridge (I didn't get to stand on it for the F1 cars, but the Porsche Supercup cars sound INCREDIBLE there) in the braking zone, the cars hit the brakes hard before diving through turn 8, a hard left hander that saw many cars overcooking their entrance speeds and ending up in the barriers.

After negotiating the 8th corner, the cars jump back on the throttle for around 100 meters before slamming on full brakes for the "S" hairpins (turns 9 and 10). I can appreciate now, better than before, why the drivers don't like these corners: They are just SO tight! The cars seem to crawl around the corners...slow, tedious right hander, short squirt of throttle...brakes, slow left hander, then hard on the throttle driving out towards turn 11.

As they come into turn 11, you can hear them lift off and see them battle the car through this flat, hard right. From there it's all throttle, baby. You can sit in front of the pits and KNOW where the cars are simply by listening to the exhaust notes filtering over the top of gasoline alley. When they hit turn 12 and enter the oval section of the track all you hear is a banshee wail reverberating off the grandstands as they charge around the banked track. Suddenly, they blast through turn 13 and come whistling down the front straight moving at incredible velocity before tripping the timing mark...and not improving their position because they were too slow that lap! ;)

For the different sessions my RV-mates and I sat in different places. On Friday we were up at the top of the N.W. Vista, watching the cars as they came up the front straight and all the way around to Hulman Ave. The most aggravating thing about that spot, aside from the chill breeze Friday morning, was the HSBC sign that was hung over the track between turns 3 and 4. Obviously the organizers don't care about people taking pictures of the cars on track: The sign blocks your view of turn 4 completely, which is a prime spot to catch the cars in profile. At any rate, it was a fun session which saw quite a few drivers miss the turn 1 braking zone and drive past before reentering on a small secondary lane after turn 2. That track marshall had a fun weekend waving those Minardis, Jags, and Saubers through again and again!

On Saturday, we were sitting in the Paddock grandstands directly across from the BAR pits. This is truly an amazing view to have for a qualifying session. The cars are being worked on non-stop throughout the morning. As qualifying approached, the stands became packed with Ferrari and Montoya fans...but we DID see a few fellow Honda/BAR/Jordan fans hanging about. During qualifying itself, the atmosphere becomes electrified inside the speedway. Finally, a moment has arrived when all the track action will actually MEAN something. The experience of sitting there with binoculars, watching mechanics fix coolant leaks and change settings while cars scream by on track, is something special to behold! :)

Sunday arrived and it found us in our assigned seats in Stand H right at the first corner. No one in the stands was sitting at the start of the race and we all stayed standing for at least the first three laps. We saw a great deal of overtaking sitting at the first turn. Much of it took place in the first ten laps, with Minardis embarassing Jaguars and BAR's overtaking Toyotas and McLarens. The Jordans looked to be doing well, battling with Saubers and the occasional Renault. We had the dubious honor of smelling Mark Webber's oil cloud after he blew up right in front of us. Think of the last time you were near a roofing job and the big tar-vat was open...nasty!!!

Ultimately, Jacques was able to keep pace with Juan Pablo (admittedly, JV was on a two-stopper compared to JPM's one-stop strategy) and keep the pressure applied to Jarno Trulli for the last half of the race. This netted Jacques a point for sixth place by race end, not a bad result after starting seventh and only having three backmarkers retire during the race! We were all jumping up and down in tense excitement during lap 2, when RS and JPM had their coming-together. The whole race is a blur..needless to say, I'll be watching the race replay on Sunday on Speed Channel...dangit, I want to see what I missed! :)

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Date Thread Starter Thread
10-09-2002 19:23 First Time   (Score: 1, Normal) magueto
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