How different is the St. Petersburg track from Sao Paulo for things like track surface, passing opportunities, and how different is your policy on what tire compounds to use at certain points? Len Olsen
Alex replies: Len, I would say that the big difference between Sao Paulo and St. Pete is that in Brazil, the track surface was more slippery than it will be in St. Pete. At the track in St. Pete, the surface will change dramatically in grip because we are running three days instead of two…and the more tires on the track, the grip level goes up. So, if the temperature stays consistent, the track will get more grippy toward the end of the weekend and will be less bumpy than San Paulo. The other big difference between St. Pete and Brazil is the length of the track, so there is almost a 30-second-per-lap difference – which means your laps are shorter and the difference in lap time can be a much greater factor. The percentage in your lap times is much smaller so the time gap between cars will be much tighter.
As for the tire compound, this is what I've heard: The black tire is going to be a little bit harder than what we had in Brazil, meaning the difference between the black and red is going to be bigger. That is what the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone are trying to do to make a bigger difference in the tires. So the tire choice is going to be huge, especially in qualifying. If your car runs better on one type of tires, you are going to be penalized on the other. So the team has to work to compromise the setup between the two compounds. That difference in the compounds can create really good action on the track for the race.
I know you tested at Homestead already, but I wondered a) how much of what you run at Homestead can be used on other ovals; b) are you going to do another oval test before Kansas or Indy; and c) what do you think is a realistic target qualifying spot for Indy this year? Roger Martin
Rob replies: The test at Homestead helped define our car specification for the ovals, but the setup is always track dependent. We will test at the Kentucky open test before Indy. Our goal for qualifying is to be solidly in the field on the first day. As a new team going against a lot of experienced competition, I hope that is a realistic target!
After Sao Paulo, can we expect lots of similar performances at street races from FAZZT? Congratulations, btw! Sandy Harris
Alex replies: Sandy, that is a tough question because, internally, we feel we have done our homework very well and the group of people we have in place is tremendous, with very high-quality people. The performance in Brazil and our testing over the winter makes us very optimistic for the road and street races, but having said that, the biggest challenge we have is going up against more established teams. They have seasons of information and baseline setups and it will take us some time to gather that same amount of data.
We have the right people and good cars, but we are not always sure, as we are always trying to find what is best, from the minute we unload the car at the track. I think after three or four races we can accumulate a certain level of data on the street courses and road courses and have information to say, "This is what makes us fast and makes us better and that will help us get closer to the other teams that have all the data and baselines on the Dallara." So, while most of their weekend is fine-tuning and ours is still gathering information, I do think we have the right things in place to be competitive.
What's the schedule like for the truck drivers after Barber to try and get to Long Beach? Simon Keith
Michael “Mack” McCormack replies: Thanks for the question, Simon. The team will immediately load the transporter following the Barber race and my co-driver and I will drive non-stop to Long Beach. We operate with two drivers, which allows us to legally drive cross-country and only stop for fuel, food and short breaks. Our plan is to arrive in Long Beach Tuesday at the Queen Mary staging area for loading into the track.
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