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Scott Speed's Monte Carlo Diary 29 May 2007

Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 24 May 2007 Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 26 May 2007 Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR02 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Monaco Grand Prix, Race, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Sunday, 27 May 2007 Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR2.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 24 May 2007 Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR2.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 24 May 2007

American achieves breakthrough performance in Monaco

Toro Rosso's Scott Speed put in his best Formula One performance yet with an outstanding charge from 18th to ninth round Monaco's tricky street circuit on Sunday.

Four days earlier, during Thursday’s morning practice session, Speed turned 27 laps and posted the 12th-best time in his STR2. In the afternoon, he added another 40 laps and was 18th quickest.

“The most important thing on this first day at Monaco is that I did not hit the wall!” he said. “We have some new parts on the car since the Paul Ricard test (in France), and they worked quite well. I’d say that the car is now turning much sharper, which is useful around here. Now I just need to find some more pace for Saturday.”

The Formula One cars don’t run during Friday in Monaco, so Speed had the day off. Despite the rain during Saturday’s morning practice session, Speed clocked the fifth-quickest time in that session. But in qualifying that afternoon, he was eliminated in the first of the three sessions.

“Confusion in the pits cost me a lot today,” he said, “as I got called into the weigh bridge and then ended up coming into the garage just before (my team mate) Tonio (Liuzzi) arrived in the pit stop position. On top of that, my brakes were on fire when I came into the weigh bridge. Just a bad day all round!”

Giorgio Ascanelli, Toro Rosso’s technical director, explained what went wrong: “We tried to give the drivers as much time as possible on fresh rubber, but we made a mistake, as our plan for him was compromised when he was called to the weigh bridge. I think we should have sent him out again immediately, but we did not. The factory has worked hard for the past two weeks to get us something new that only arrived last night. It’s hard to tell whether it works or not, but it seems to have had a positive effect.”

Speed lined up in 18th for the 78-lap race. Team mate Vitantonio Liuzzi, who made it through to the second qualifying session, started 13th. Speed, however, didn’t stay 18th for long. At the end of the first lap, he was already up in 14th place. After that, he drove a steady race, picking up positions. He finished an outstanding ninth.

“My engineer and I did everything right today,” Speed explained. “We guessed really good on the front-wing setting. One pit stop was the way to go. There was no other option from where we started. At the end, my brake pedal started to go to the floor, so for the last four laps I stopped pushing. I knew that the guys behind be weren’t going to pass me, and I knew that I was not going to catch the guy in front of me. I had a couple close calls because I could not control the brakes like I wanted to.”

Normally, quite a few cars retire from the Monaco Grand Prix. But the eight cars in front of Speed kept going to the end of the race, and therefore he just missed scoring a point. While he was disappointed not to earn his first Formula One point, Speed was pleased with his race.

“I didn’t expect to be this competitive in the race,” he said. “We have made a good step forward.”

The next races on Speed’s agenda are the Canadian Grand Prix on June 10 in Montreal followed by his home Grand Prix in Indianapolis on June 17.