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Scott Speed’s Montreal diary 27 Jun 2006

Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Montreal, Canada, 24 June 2006 (L to R): Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso with Robert Doornbos (NDL) Red Bull Racing Third Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Preparations, Montreal, Canada, 22 June 2006 Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Montreal, Canada, 23 June 2006 Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Preparations, Montreal, Canada, 22 June 2006 Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Montreal, Canada, 23 June 2006

American heads home with high hopes of strong Indy finish

Following a strong finish in Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix, Toro Rosso’s Scott Speed is looking forward to racing in front of his fellow Americans in the United States Grand Prix on July 2 at Indianapolis.

“Even here (in Canada) I felt so much more support than normal,” California native Speed said, “so it is a great feeling being on this side of the Atlantic. Next weekend is going to be the pinnacle for me.”

Speed is the first American to compete in Formula One racing since Michael Andretti in 1993. And he will be the first driver from the United States to compete in his home Grand Prix since Eddie Cheever took part in the 1989 US event in Phoenix. “I am very excited to see how much support I will have at Indianapolis,” Speed said.

Speed finished 10th in the Canada after an intense late race battle with Honda’s Jenson Button and Red Bull’s David Coulthard. An accident brought out the Safety Car with 10 laps to go, and that bunched up the field. Button, Coulthard and Speed ran in close formation. Coulthard squeezed by Button to claim eighth place, but Speed couldn’t quite manage a pass and finished the race less than half a second behind Button.

“The last laps were quite fun,” Speed said. “I could smell the points up there. I was pushing quite hard. It just didn’t work out, and I never got an opportunity to go around Button. He was a bit slower than the two of us, and I was putting pressure on him.

“But I had to let Alonso go by right in the middle of our battle, and that gave Button some breathing room for DC (Coulthard) to get by. Otherwise, I might have been closer and been able to capitalize on their battle.”

The Toro Rosso team put in flawless pit work for Speed. “They did a great job,” he said. “The pit stops they did were really great. It is some thing we have been working really hard on as a team. We have taken a step forward in that area. Other than that, it was just staying out of trouble today.”

And there was plenty of trouble out there as the track became increasingly slippery off the racing line as the race went on.

“It was the most marbles we have seen all year,” Speed said. “It was a treacherous race. I had quite a few close calls. When you went off on them, you lost a second or more. It was very tricky. It was a race of attrition.”

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal is, like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Formula One circuit, a track that calls for the cars to be set up with a medium- to low-downforce aerodynamic configuration. Speed found his Toro Rosso to be more competitive than he thought it would be in Canada, and that bodes well for the race in Indianapolis.

However, the long straight at Indianapolis also calls for lots of horsepower, and that is one area where the Toro Rosso cars are at a disadvantage because they run a rev-limited V10 engine while the other cars run the newer V8s.

“I know that we don’t have as much power as the rest of the guys,” Speed said, “but I don’t think it is going to affect us much. But we will see.”

After the race in Canada, Speed travelled to New York for a couple of days of promotional engagements, and then he flies to Indianapolis. Inevitably there will be more media buzz around Speed at Indianapolis than at other races because it is his home Grand Prix.

“There is going to be more media attention,” he said, “so there is going to be more time I have to spend away from my engineers to take care of that, but that is part of the job and not anything unexpected.”

Of course, there will also be a lot more attention from the fans, as well. “I expect that I am going to have a lot of support from my countrymen,” Speed said, “and I hope we have a good race to give them something to watch.”