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Kanaan: F1 test a dream come true 29 Sep 2005

IRL driver Tony Kanaan (BRA) prepares to test for BAR tomorrow. Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday 28 September 2005. World ©  Hartley/Sutton

Tony Kanaan, the 2004 IRL champion, is in Jerez with BAR this week to get his first taste of a Formula One car. Ahead of the session, the Brazilian star spoke to the team about his 2005 season and what he is expecting from his drive in the BAR 007.

Q: How has your season been going in the IRL Indy Car series this year?
Tony Kanaan:
“It's a different season for sure than last year. When you win a championship, you come into the following season expecting to do the same otherwise you are really doing worse. It's been a good season so far for the team which is great, we won ten races, Dan Wheldon won the championship and I am sitting second right now. So I think it has been a positive year, not probably the way I wanted it to be, but you know this is racing and you can't win every year and as long as we are competitive and on the chase for the championship then I feel good.”

Q: Do you think you can keep your second position overall at the final race?
TK:
“I have to! That's possible and we have a fair advantage over the third guy - 26 points. But there is 50 points for a win so we have to watch out a little bit but it's very achievable.”

Q: How does an Indy car differ from an F1 car?
TK:
“The technology in F1 is completely different. Our Indy Cars are a little heavier and our top speeds are probably a little higher. We don't have a lot of the technology of F1. The biggest difference is that we race mainly on the ovals where we average speeds of over 400 kph for two hours. That doesn't happen here in F1 where you have a lot of braking, shifting and cornering.”

Q: And what about the circuits - most of your races are on ovals but you also have some road races?
TK:
“We do. Our record is pretty good at the road races, out of the three this year we have finished second, first and second so it's not that bad! We just added the road courses to the Indy Car series this year. We have one street course, which is our Monaco - at St Petersburg in Florida - and then we have two road races that are permanent courses. It's a lot of fun so hopefully they are going to add some more.”

Q: Are your race plans finalised for next season?
TK:
“Yes, I have a contract with Andretti Green Racing until 2008 so I am staying there for a long time, I hope. The goal is to try and win the championship again.”

Q: Has it always been a dream of yours to drive an F1 car?
TK:
“I've always followed F1, I'm very good friends with Rubens and I knew Ayrton Senna well and used to go to the races with him. I raced in Europe as well in 1993, 1994 and 1995. My main goal when I was little was to come to Formula One and obviously as time goes by, you don't get a good opportunity or a chance to do it so you've got to try to make a living out of racing. I've got a good opportunity in America but F1 has always been a dream and this test, thanks to Honda, is definitely a dream come true from me.”

Q: What are you expecting from your first drive in the car?
TK:
"I want to have fun and enjoy the opportunity. There's no pressure, I'm not here to be tested and I just want enjoy something that I earned. It started between myself, Wada-san and Robert Clark, who runs Honda Performance Development in America, that if I won the championship they would give me a test. I'm expecting to enjoy it a lot and be able to tell my friends, and probably my kids one day, that I've driven an F1 car.”

Q: Tell us a bit about your relationship with Honda and the successes that you've had with them?
TK:
“I started with Honda in 1998, left for a year in 2000 and then returned in 2001, so basically all of my years in the big series, Indy Car and KART, have been with Honda. I won the most important championship of my life with Honda. I gave them their first win in Indy Car and their first pole position so there's a lot of history between us. Wada-san has been a big part of my career, helping me and believing in me. Through the hard times he pulled me up, kept me in the Honda family and gave me the opportunity to have a good car. So between himself and Robert Clark I've got to thank them a lot.”

Q: You used to race against BAR Honda's Sporting Director, Gil de Ferran, what was he like as a racer?
TK:
“Gil was a tough racer. He was the type of guy that if you were following him and putting pressure on to pass him, he would never make a mistake. He's very methodical and very talented. It's good to race against good racers and Gil as definitely one of them.”

Q: Has he given you any advice about this drive?
TK:
“To enjoy it! It is going to be my dream come true - like when you take a kid to Disneyland. I'm going to take it seriously obviously, I want to help the team if I can with the testing, but I'm going to enjoy myself.”