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Simon Pagenaud, Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports - Q&A

2 September 2013

A post-race interview with the winner of the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT, Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports' Simon Pagenaud.

Q:
We are joined by our race winner, Simon Pagenaud. This is Simon's second career IndyCar victory and his first victory came in June at Belle Isle, the second race at the doubleheader earlier this year. This is Simon's second start at Baltimore and he finished third in his other start in 2012.

Simon, congratulations on the victory and a great race today. Talk about the race, especially at the end there, it seemed to be a lot of contact, a lot of craziness.

Simon Pagenaud:
Yeah, it was great racing. It was obviously a difficult day for I think everybody, lots of contact. Everybody is getting pretty excited as the season comes to an end, and the HP car was just really, really fast at the beginning of the race, and I really thought we had a good shot at it. I think the whole weekend was incredible.

The engineers has been so good at understanding what we need, and after Sonoma, they just came back home overnight and worked, understanding what we are going to need and here we are.

I think it's the first time of the year on the one lap pace really with the guys, so that's something we have been focusing on, and my hat off to the engineers for making it happen so well this week.

And the race, you know, it was good at the start and then we had a little bit of trouble mostly with brakes and a lot of pick‑up on the tyres when we are on the Red tyres. But I just think it's probably our setup to be honest.

And then the second yellow saved us because we could cool the brake down, change tyres and then basically we got very, very lucky on that restart where we managed to go on the right side of the road and ended up being sixth or fourth, I don't remember.

But then I thought, okay, this is my second chance. You never get a second chance in racing, so you've got to grab this one. And I knew I was on fresher tyres than the guys around me, and I knew I had a faster car, but we needed to get going. We knew my car was really good after a while, after a lot of laps, and we just need to get going.

Passed TK on that restart and then Marco on the second one, and then I pushed as hard as I could with a broken wing, but it actually made the car pretty good.

Q:
Not only was it an important day picking up your second career victory but also an important day points‑wise.

Simon Pagenaud:
Yeah, I don't know what the points situation is.

Q:
I believe you moved up to third.

Simon Pagenaud:
Oohh, yes, I take that. Obviously that was in my head. I knew Marco - I didn't expect Marco to be up there because he was struggling all weekend, so when he was out there, I had finished ahead of him for points.

And like I said, Dix and Power, they were all out, and Franchitti. I thought it was my time, really, and I did everything I could to - I honestly went for the win or nothing, and it paid out. I was pretty aggressive, but it worked out really well. So you know, it's one of those days where everything is with you and it works out.

Q:
Can you talk about the momentum going into today's race?

Simon Pagenaud:
Yeah, I think it's perfect for the HP team. You know, we are showing we can fight with Penske, Ganassi and Andretti, which is a pretty big task for a race team. We certainly don't have as many people working. We don't have people working overnight.

But the people we have are quality people and they are just waiting to work extra hours and they understand really well the problems. They trust me as a driver, so it's great momentum going into Houston.

I think we know Houston is going to be bumpy and we know it should be concrete, so that's very similar to here and I think what we found this weekend should work. I'm excited about it. I just wish we were going next week so we wouldn't have to wait so long.

It's going to be a difficult event, a lot of things will happen there, because obviously there's only three races to go, so a lot of people will be trying to make things happen. Just try to be up front and not be bothered too much by the chaos.

Q:
When the race unfolds the way it does with all the crashes and bumps, is it tougher mentally or physically toward the end, and where do you think you win the race? Do you win the race with your physical skills as a driver or just being able to survive the chaos?

Simon Pagenaud:
Actually I think it's easier when we have yellows because we have time to drink and we have time to rest and recover from a long running on the green. Long running on the green here, you sweat a lot, so you lose water and it's so bumpy, you don't really have time to drink, so cramps could happen. So the yellows are awesome or recuperation and drinking.

The biggest thing on the yellow is to get your energy up again and to understand where your tyres are, how cold they are; the brakes, also, and understanding how to get everything in temperature.

And then the trick is on the restart, understanding who is ahead of you and what they usually do on restarts, so I knew Marco was going to go early, because that's what he usually does, for example - no offense to him, but that's what he does. And some drivers don't do that.

So you know, when you say you restart slow - you've got references like that in your red and you just try to focus on it. So when it's time to go, it's time to go, and you're there.

Q:
Having been out here a couple of times, there's talk next year, there's concern that they are trying to get a date - it sounds like everybody is on board in getting a date -

Simon Pagenaud:
To get what?

Q:
To get a date for this race.

Simon Pagenaud:
Okay. Sorry.

Q:
How important is Indy to have a place like Baltimore given the city and the track?

Simon Pagenaud:
Well, the city is really nice. It's nice to come here to this area of the United States. I personally love the event. I always have good results here. I love the city. It's a nice city and I think the event is really well put together by the Andretti organization.

It's really a good event. It's really busy. People are very close to you. You get to walk within the area of the track, people can walk there and cross your path, and I think that's awesome.

It's very different to the other racetrack. I this I we have a pretty good contact with the fans, and I think that's why the Grand Prix is nice here. I hope to come back.

Q:
You had mentioned the pick up on the Reds, as opposed to the Black tyres. Was it an easier tradeoff to have less grip with the Black tyres than to pick up the garbage on the Reds that you could clean up after a lap or two?

Simon Pagenaud:
Yeah, I think our setup was very good on the Blacks, as you could see in practice, we are always in the top three, and we were really fast on the Blacks - actually did the same lap time on Black tyres as we did on the Reds during practice.

So I knew the Reds would give me what I needed, the Blacks would give me what I needed. The Reds in qualifying was a little bit of a surprise. It changed our balance. We didn't have as good of a car, I would say, and I was having a tendency to lose the rear.

So, you know, when I had the opportunity, I decided just to stay on blocks and I could push. So with the Reds, I had to nurse it a little bit too much and I don't like that.

Q:
Can you talk about the end of the race when you got in the lead, you were challenged by a couple drivers. You can talk about the condition of your car, in terms of the tyres, did you have brake problems, and I know Bourdais got along side of you, could you just talk about what happened there?

Simon Pagenaud:
Yeah, you're going for a race win. I ended up getting some marble on my tyres in turn seven, and honestly, I didn't know it was that close, so I exited the corner and went back to the racing line and he was there. And we touched as he was braking. I got sucked into him, and the second touch put him out of line. It's not great. You know, I don't want to say that it's racing, that's the way it is; it's not great. But in the meantime, I'm not going to open the door. I'm going for a race win. I need this for the championship, and I had a good car and I knew if I could get going, I was going to pull off, pull away. It's one of those moments, out of many moments during the race, that were more hairy than this one.

But always clean; I want to always say, he's a good friend, he's very clean, and we both race and we both race for different teams and when it's time to go for the win, you go for the win.

Q:
You mentioned earlier that you were having some brake problems with brake fade and Josef Newgarden mentioned he was having the same problem. Is it a systematic thing or just because of conditions here?

Simon Pagenaud:
It's very hard on the brakes because we were going so fast down the straight and then we slow down so much, so it's a big stress on the brakes but it's also really hot. There's no breeze, no fresh air to cool the brakes down.

So I had the same thing last year, not as dramatic to be honest, but we were able to recover with the yellows, the yellow. And my experience in sports car helped me understand what to do with the brakes to get them back and they came back and that's why at the end we were so fast. That's pretty much normal.

Q:
You had touched on it earlier, you said you were aware of who was out of the race and who was still in contention. When you know that guys who have won consistently are out of the race and maybe guys like Marco who were trying to push a little, they have not won in a while does that give you confidence that, okay, you can do some things, you're just as experienced or just as capable as they are; or, does it matter who is in front of you or who is in contention?

Simon Pagenaud:
Well, like I explained earlier, I think, you know, you analyze who is your opponent; if it's Marco, I'm going to behave differently than Dario, for example, or Helio, and I'm starting to get to know them better as a racer. So you know their attitude and you know what they are going to do and you know that they are going to be good on exits; like Dixon, for example, is always good on exits. It's important to analyze that.

But today was my chance. I had to go for it. And if it didn't work out, it didn't work out. I would have been fifth in of the championship and the end of the day. It was a big opportunity today to grab and muscle a little bit.

Q:
As you said, you don't drive for one of the bigger teams with the huge resources. I'm sure you have confidence in your own talent but when you've sat down at the beginning of the year, did you envision in your wildest dreams that you were sitting here now for your second winner's interview at this point in the season?

Simon Pagenaud:
Why not? (Laughter) why not?

I know the relationship I have with the team is great. They trust me so well that I'm never in doubt, and that's a big thing for a driver to be in confidence. And I feel like I'm driving well at the moment.

So I'm raising the bar every race and I'm analyzing a lot what's going on and every race, I try to improve a little bit more. So I think, you know, it's fantastic what we are doing for the resources we have.

As I said, we have got great people on board and that relationship with them really helps getting the results. But the results is just the results of the equation. Everybody is just working so well results together.

Q:
You mentioned engineers earlier this year, plural, because Tristan ran really well, qualified Fast Six. What was the feedback of your working with him and how does having the second car here help compared to last year when it was a single‑car deal?

Simon Pagenaud:
This weekend I think was probably our best weekend as a race team with two cars. Alan was very experienced on Tristan's car and Tristan was very fast straightaway here. So we started with same setup. We went different directions. One direction was better. We kept going in that direction and we improved both cars at the same time.

Yesterday in practice, we tried something different that didn't work so we came back to my setup and then this morning, I tried something else that was more toward what he did the day before, and that didn't work. So we have twice as many information.

I think that just helped us to understand how to tackle Houston, for example, and that's definitely - it answers a lot of question when you can have two valuable feedback, and that kind of weekend like we had.

Q:
Thank you so much for your time today. Congratulations on the win.

Transcript courtesy IndyCar. FastScripts by ASAP Sports.


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