Iusgp Notebook:/I Saturday
September 29, 2001 | 11:00 P.M. EST
They have both won the Indy 500, both won the CART FedEx Series championship and both got their Formula One starts with Williams. And while their status with the fans may fluctuate, they both think the CART paddocks are just too busy and prefer the secure atmosphere an F-1 paddock offers.
Montoya noticed the difference last week when he went to his first CART race since moving to F-1 this year. The fans at CART’s Rockingham 500 were surprised to see such driver interaction and didn’t quite know what to do.
"The atmosphere is a lot more relaxed there, and it's quite amazing," Montoya told Autosport magazine. "Some people complain because they don't allow people here (in F1) in the paddock, but there's too many people in the CART paddock - you can't even walk.
”It was quite tough, you know, because it was mainly English fans there, and they are Formula One fans, too, so it's something new for them to see you walking in the paddock."
Villeneuve, who was not at last week’s CART race, agreed that the F-1 paddock is a bit more professional.
”The fans probably feel better because they can walk down the paddock in CART, but it just makes your life very difficult when you're trying to work professionally," he said. "So as a driver, I enjoy being in the F-1 paddock a lot more just because we can concentrate on our work better.”
Different, but the Same
Former Indy 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve is happy to be back at Indianapolis Motor Speedway but said the track used for the Formula One race is nothing like the one he’s used to.
"Everybody immediately asks me what it's like to be back racing at Indianapolis,” said the 1995 Indy 500 winner and CART champion. “OK, we're racing in the same town as the 500 but we're not on the oval so it's not the same at all. The section of the oval that we use is interesting because it's banked, but in terms of setup, you treat it like a straight because it's easy-flat.”
While Villeneuve likes the F-1 configuration well enough for racing, he doesn't think it's ideal for qualifying.
“There was a big turnout for the race last year, which was a positive surprise given that F-1 hadn't been to America since 1991,” Villeneuve said. “The circuit is all right to drive. The infield section is a bit like a kart track, good for racing on but not for qualifying because it's a bit boring when you're on your own.”
God Bless America
Indianapolis Motor Speedway and U.S. Grand Prix sponsor SAP officials will do their part to help the relief efforts following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in America.
More than 110 Red Cross volunteers will be stationed at the speedway this weekend to take donations for the aid of victims and families of the attacks. IMS will assist the volunteers with their logistical efforts and provide them with free tickets to the race. SAP has opened the donation drive with $100,000 and also said it would commit $3 million to other relief funds.
“SAP has gone beyond what is expected of a title sponsor, and their generosity is commendable,” George said. “I know that race fans will respond in kind.”
The first 100,000 fans through the gates on Sunday will receive an American flag for the pre-race festivities.
“At SAP, we are pleased to partner with IMS to help the American Red Cross raise money at this event, and we encourage racing fans to bring America's spirit of generosity with them to the speedway this weekend,” said Marty Homlish, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for SAP.
”More than 400 million people around the world are expected to watch the SAP United States Grand Prix on Sunday. What better way could there be to demonstrate the spirit of America than with a strong display of patriotism, international brotherhood and community outreach.”