Round nine - Indianapolis here we come
Red Bull are one of the few teams that will feature major changes this weekend, as the action follows so hard on the heels of the Canadian Grand Prix, heading south to the legendary 'Brickyard'.
After David Coulthard and Christian Klien came home seventh and eight in Montreal, Cosworths Dave Prigg said: Our finish provides Cosworth with the enviable position of being the only engine manufacturer to supply a team with an uninterrupted sequence of engines from the start of the season. An unmatched level of reliability from the TJ2005 10 series engine, at its final race. Red Bull Racing will enjoy a significant performance step with the introduction of the TJ2005 12 series engine next week at Indy.
Sources within the team speak of a 30 to 40 bhp power hike, which could be worth up to three-tenths of a second off the lap times of Coulthard and Klien. Scott Speed will again take on the role of Friday test driver, and the presence of the young Californian is expected to be a major boost for American race fans who have not had a driver to cheer in Formula One racing since Michael Andretti with McLaren back in 1993.
McLaren expect to be very quick in Indianapolis, and Kimi Raikkonen said in Montreal that he is really looking forward to the race. Indy will suit our car better than this circuit, which hasnt been our strongest of the season, the Finn commented after winning in Canada. Our car has always been good there, and this years car is the best yet. I think we will do very well there.
Team mate Juan Pablo Montoya needs a strong result to put his catastrophic outing in Montreal behind him.
At Renault there is a very high level of determination to hit back with a strong result after the double retirement on the Ile Notre Dame suddenly reduced the points advantage over McLaren to a mere 13 points, while Ferrari say they are optimistic but nobody really quite knows what to expect from the red cars. They too have always been strong at Indianapolis, but despite their 2-3 result in Canada it was clear that this would not have been the case had the Renaults and Montoya made it to the flag, or had the safety car not intervened.
Toyota will be strong at Indy, where horsepower is important on the long drag through the banked final corner and all the way down to wide Turn 1. It will be interesting to see how quick the Williams cars are there, and BAR and Sauber should also be strong there as they have potent engines too. Dont forget that Jenson Button led a grand prix for the first time here two years ago, and his team is one that is getting desperate for a strong result after all its disappointments this year.
In the Jordan versus Minardi stakes, it remains to be seen whether Jordans Toyota power overcomes Minardi Cosworths good handling.
The Grand Prix circuit at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is very hard on engines and brakes. The section from the infield, through the banking, and down to Turn 1 is the longest full-throttle section in Formula One racing, and that in conjunction with frequently high ambient temperature makes life tough for power units. That may also favour those runners using a fresh engine for its first race, rather than having an engine that raced in Canada too. The brakes also get a hard time, under retardation for Turn 1. On the positive side, however, the width of the track for that corner allows a variety of entry lines and fosters overtaking.
The infield that follows is very tight, to the point where drivers use first gear three times a lap there.
This fast section-slow section nature of the track creates a paradox for engineers and drivers; you need low drag and high speed on the straight, and therefore low downforce, but you also ideally need high downforce for the infield. The popular compromise is for the former, otherwise you get passed on the straight and the overtaking driver can usually block you through the twisty stuff.
The race will be held over 73 laps of the 4.192 km circuit, and starts at 13.00 local time which is five hours behind GMT.