Scott Speeds Sao Paulo Diary 24 Oct 2006
Franz Tost hails Speed's strongest drive in season finale
Scott Speed rounded off his debut Formula One season in Brazil on Sunday with what Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost called one of his best races. Speed qualified 17th and finished a solid 11th in the final Grand Prix held at the 15-turn Interlagos circuit.
Another new track for me, explained Speed, who was 26th quickest on the opening day of practice. It is very tight and right now very slippery. So going for a full lap without missing a braking point or sliding off line has been difficult. I had heard about how bumpy this place is and that fact that it is an anti-clockwise track, but after two hours out there in the car, Im feeling fine physically. In terms of car performance, it felt on the edge everywhere, and although track conditions will improve, it will always be tough for us as we usually struggle on this type of circuit.
In qualifying the next day, the American barely missed the cut to reach the second session. He was 17th quickest. His team mate Tonio Liuzzi, who was 16th and advanced through to Q2, was just .001 of a second faster.
Speed was encouraged about the progress he and the car had made. It was a good qualifying for us, he said. This morning, we really improved the car from the first day. My compliments to the guys who sorted it out with lots of hard work overnight. I made a small mistake, but I got 99 percent of the potential of the car. Before we came here, I thought this might be our worse race, but now I think we have a chance to put up a fight, because the car is a lot better than I thought it would be. Ill be hoping to make a good start and pass a few cars on the first lap.
Speed started the race 17th and was up to 14th at the end of Lap one thanks, in part, to the two Williams drivers retiring. From there, the Californian climbed to 10th and spent 19 laps in that position before briefly running in ninth. Pit stops dropped him to 13th, but he managed to cross the line in 11th, one lap down. Team mate Liuzzi, who had tangled with another car, finished 13th.
Scott drove one of his best races this season, Tost said, with consistent lap times, and he also fought well. The team did a good job with both cars finishing. In reliability terms, we are the fifth best team overall this season and have ended up ninth in the constructors championship. The team itself has learnt to work together, gathering useful experience over this season, and that will be a good starting point for next year.
On Monday, Speed flew back home to California, aiming to immediately start preparing for the 2007 Formula One season. In addition to physical training, Speed will keep his skills honed by racing karts, before he returns to the cockpit of his Formula One car at the first winter test session, due to be held at the end of November in Spain.