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Scott Speed's Hockenheim Diary 02 Aug 2006

Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Hockenheim, Germany, 29 July 2006 Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, German Grand Prix, Race Day, Hockenheim, Germany, 30 July 2006 Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Hockenheim, Germany, 29 July 2006 Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, German Grand Prix, Race, Hockenheim, Germany, 30 July 2006 Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, German Grand Prix, Practice Day, Hockenheim, Germany, 28 July 2006

American jumps more hurdles to finish another race

Scott Speed came 12th in Sunday’s German Grand Prix, but it wasn’t an easy weekend for the Californian who had to overcome handling difficulties in the race after crashing his Toro Rosso in qualifying.

Speed arrived in Germany almost 100 percent fit after his accident two weeks earlier in the French Grand Prix. Rather than drive from his base in Austria to Germany, Speed flew in a single-prop four-seater Cessna plane with a member of the Red Bull team. Speed had a chance to take the controls. “I got to fly for the first time,” he said. “It is a lot harder than it looks. It was really cool.”

However, landing the plane was a different manner. “I won’t try that any time soon,” Speed added. “It’s tough. When you don’t do it, and you see it for the first time, that the runway looks so small from the air. And you think, ‘How are we going to land?’ And when you get there, it’s huge! It’s crazy!”

Once he got to Germany, Speed was happy that he had flown rather than driven because there were plenty of traffic jams on the German autobahn because of road repair. “I just had to drive up to Frankfurt from the track,” he said, “and the traffic was terrible.”

Out on the track on the opening day of practice on Friday, Speed did not complete many laps. “I don’t think that our car is too bad,” he said after, “although our pace did not seem great today. I had difficulty in warming up the tyres and I also had a big lockup, which caught me off guard and flat-spotted a tyre. So I had to deal with a lot of vibration.”

The next day, Speed completed 17 laps and set the 13th fastest time in the morning practice session. In the first qualifying session that afternoon, Speed ran wide on a sweeping corner. His car twitched back and forth and then shot across the track and clobbered a wall.

“When you’re running toward the back of the field, you have to find new ways to get media coverage, and I guess I did that today!” he said. “But, seriously, I had been riding that curb all weekend with no problem, but then today in qualifying I didn’t do anything different in the way I tackled it, but the car seemed to get much more upset, and I lost control of it. At first, I kept my foot down on the throttle, because everything felt normal, but then I had a hard time bringing the car back into line, and it spat me across to the outside.”

The car needed an extensive rebuild, but the Toro Rosso mechanics had it ready for the 67-lap German Grand Prix on Sunday. The problem was that the rebuilt car did not run before the race, so Speed and his engineers had to guess on chassis and aerodynamic settings. Although he had not set a qualifying time, Speed lined up 19th on the grid with three cars behind him that had been sent to the back as a penalty for engine changes.

Thanks to various accidents and spins by rivals, Speed was up to 14th place by lap 2. But his car’s front wing setting was too severe, giving him too much front downforce. He also had a brake balance problem. Both of these were mostly cured during his two pit stops for fuel and tyres, but the car then suffered from oversteer in the closing stages of the race. Still, Speed managed to pass Christijan Albers to claim 12th place with seven laps to go. Speed’s team mate, Vitantonio Liuzzi, finished 10th.

“Tenth and 12th is what we could expect if you look at the list of better cars that finished ahead of us,” team boss Franz Tost said. “Tonio did a really good job today. The whole team did an exceptional job to ensure that both cars got to the finish, considering how much work they had to do in such a short space of time to get Scott’s car rebuilt. They did a tremendous job; thank you to the team.”

Speed, Liuzzi, the Toro Rosso team and the rest of the Formula One fraternity now head straight to the Hungaroring for this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.