Hot on the heels of Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix, the Formula One circus is already heading down to the second part of the North American double-header in Indianapolis. After a host of different venues down the years, the US Grand Prix settled at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the historic home of American racing, in 2000. The F1 circuit uses part of the famous banked oval before snaking round the twisty infield so the challenge for teams is always to set up the cars to work well around both contrasting sections. The Indianapolis circuit has been kind to Panasonic Toyota Racing in the past. In 2003, Olivier Panis qualified third, the team's highest grid position before Jarno Trulli's front row slots this season. Olivier followed that with our best individual race result of 2004 with fifth place. Now race drivers Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli will be looking to make the most of this season's improved form to bring home an even better result this weekend.
Jarno Trulli arrives in Indianapolis holding onto third place in the world drivers' championship. This music fan can usually be found soaking up the sounds of the city's blues bars in the evenings.
Jarno Trulli (Car 16): "I always enjoy the atmosphere in North America, and this double-header provides a welcome contrast to Europe. Indianapolis is a special venue which plays host to one of the most important races in the world, and I also enjoy the atmosphere in the evenings because the people are so friendly. The Indianapolis track is also different from the rest of the calendar. It is not particularly technical – it is slippery, and downforce levels are quite low. When it comes to setting up the car, we try to get good speeds down the main straight, and work hard on the mechanical grip in the slow corners to allow us to take off downforce for straight-line speed. It's my first season at Panasonic Toyota Racing so I can't predict exactly how we'll perform at Indianapolis until we do some running there on Friday. But we remain positive. Toyota has gone well there in the past, so we'll hope for another good result here this year."
SPEEDWAY OF SOUND
Fresh from his sixth place finish in Montreal on Sunday, Ralf Schumacher heads to Indianapolis seeking to build on his impressive collection of points from 2005 so far.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 17): "Toyota has always performed well in Indianapolis despite not having had a particularly strong car in the past. So that certainly bodes well for us this season. The challenge of the speedway is juggling the set-up of the car to make sure we reach a good top speed along the banked start-finish straight into the first corner while making sure that the car is stable through the slow and twisty infield section. But I have no doubt that we have the tools we need to perform well at Indy. Our RVX-05 engine has proven reliable and powerful, which will benefit us on the straight, whilst our aero efficiency has been gradually improved to cope with the infield. As the home of motor racing in the US, Indianapolis is a special venue and, like Montreal, has a unique atmosphere. Since its arrival on the F1 calendar in 2000, Indianapolis has been an unlucky track for me. But this season is a different story and I am confident we can rectify this unfortunate record."
COWBOYS AND ENGINES
Engines come under fire along Indy's famous banked corner but both Toyota's drivers will benefit from the power and reliability of the team's recently upgraded RVX-05 engine.
Luca Marmorini – Technical Director Engine: "The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of the toughest circuits on the calendar for the engine department. Over the entire lap, the percentage of full throttle is not as high as Spa or Monza, but the 1km banked straight which links the final corner of the preceding lap and the first corner of the next means that we are running the engine at max power for almost 24 seconds without a break. This naturally places a unique stress on the engine, so we have worked a lot on the test bench in Cologne to simulate this. Top speed along the start-finish straight requires us to run with lower downforce settings which should aid overtaking possibilities down to the first corner. But this will have some knock-on effects in the slower, tighter section where grip is important. We have seen in previous years that we can be quite competitive at the US grand prix. I do not think that a podium is out of the question this year, even if many other teams have made performance gains in recent races."