Drivers' Quoteboard: Thursday
By: V8 Supercars
The Aussie invasion of the USA has begun, with the V8 Supercars circus settling into the magnificent Circuit of the Americas for this weekend’s historic Austin 400.
As the teams on Thursday checked over their cars and prepared for Friday’s (US time) Practice, several drivers faced the US media for the first time.
Here’s what they had to say in response to a wide range of questions.
Mark Winterbottom on changes since he visited the circuit last year when it was being constructed:
“It has changed massively obviously. We were here in June or July last year to check out the place and it was 11 corners completed at that time and the other corners were still being rolled and there was no bitumen. So it’s great to see it completed and they have done an amazing job. I know how hard the guys were working because it was about 110 degrees, which is over 40 in our language.
“I can’t wait to put our cars on there and actually have a go. Driving around it, walking around it feels fantastic. Putting the cars on it should be fantastic.”
Fabian Coulthard on the reception from the Austin community:
“It’s been awesome so far. Everyone has been very hospitable, if we ever need anything or we need to go anywhere, everyone steers us in the right direction which helps when you are relying on GPS so heavily. It’s been a massive highlight coming here, and driving the track a couple of weeks ago was quite an experience.”
Todd Kelly on the priorities in Practice and Qualifying:
“You need to get the car right and learn how to drive the place. It is a very, very different circuit to what we traditionally drive on, a lot of different corners that take a while getting your head around setting up for. There’s not a lot of time to get that right and it takes quite a lot of time to change things on our type of cars so there is only a handful of things you can change during the session and not lose too much time.”
Jonathon Webb on what American fans should enjoy about V8 Supercars racing:
“The comments we get everywhere we go in the world is how much the fans love the bumping and rubbing and everything that goes on out there. I think V8 engines are always going to be a good thing over here. It’s the home of the V8.”
James Courtney on the unique aspects of COTA that will be a challenge for the drivers:
“Probably the craziest thing is turn one. It looks pretty steep but when you are sitting in the car you are down even lower that is probably the biggest impact on the track. It feels like you are driving up the side of a mountain. So braking markers and stuff for that are really quite unique. And then quite late in the stop the track flattens out a lot.
“At the start of races I think we are probably going to be 28 cars wide going in to there and three cars wide coming out because it is a lot wider on the entry than it is on the exit. So the way it is shaped promotes quite a bit of lunging. Also being uphill off the start if you don’t get a good start you will sink quite deep into the pack and cause a bit of drama.”
Mark Winterbottom on the critical factors that will come into play in the races:
“It’s obviously very wide so the passing is going to be one of the big keys. The right-handers are all very long so I assume the left-rear tyre is going to cop a lot of punishment.”
Fabian Coulthard on speeds at COTA versus tracks in Australia:
“Top speed? I am not good with speed; I don’t look at the speedo because it scares me! But 250-260km/h on the front straight. That’s not slow, that’s getting up there.”
Maro Engel on improving the pace of the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG:
“It’s safe to say the main focus still needs to be on the engine. In (the last round of the Championship) in Perth the straight-line speed was still lacking quite strongly. That was making the racing aspect quite hard. On pure pace in Qualifying we could run top 15 quite consistently over the weekend, and to crack the top 10 in Qualifying was a great achievement. But to go forward from there we need more power.”