Crash.Net IndyCar News
Day one a grind as qualifying postponed
13 March 2010
A tricky road surface in Sao Paulo has seen race officials decide to postpone qualifying for the opening round of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series delayed until the morning of raceday.
The knock-out session will now take place just four hours before the scheduled start of the Sao Paulo Indy 300, after drivers reported that they were unhappy with the slippery concrete surface of the Anhembi Sambodromo straight, particularly the transition from asphalt to concrete, and the 180-degree turn eleven leading onto the front straight.
"We continue to work with circuit designer Tony Cotman and the promoter to fine tune the track with the feedback we've received from the drivers," an official IRL statement explained.
"This process is no different than any other new circuit we visit for the first time. Tony has done a great job creating a fast and racy track that will be a challenge to these world-class competitors, while putting on a great show for our enthusiastic fans. We appreciate our drivers' feedback as we want to make this a track they will enjoy to drive."
Cotman requested that grinding equipment be brought in to roughen the surface at the end of the day, and qualifying was replaced by an hour-long practice session, the third of the weekend, taking track time over 200 minutes for the entire field.
"We want to have the concrete have a little bit more bite to it," Cotman commented to the official series website, "We're also dealing with concrete that's a little uneven, as you do when you lay it in sections."
"This is probably the first time the concrete is actually shiny and the rubber compound is not sticking to the concrete for whatever the reason.
The earlier sessions had seen Verizon Team Penske's Will Power topping the timesheets, ahead of Andretti Autosport veteran Tony Kanaan. The top 14 runners were split by a single second.
“I like the circuit, [but] I think it was a good decision to [let us] qualify [on Sunday]," Power admitted, "It is a little tough going down the slippery start/finish straight. Everyone got closer towards the end of [final practice], which will make qualifying tighter.”
Not everyone was happy with the decision to postpone qualifying, however, with third-fastest Ryan Hunter-Reay admitting that he would have been happy if the session had gone ahead as planned.
"I wish we had qualified today because this team really deserved to qualify today," the American claimed, "We came out prepared, the cars are great, the team is doing a great job and we have two cars in the top three.
"But you play the cards you're dealt - it is what it is. Team IZOD and everyone at Andretti Autosport really did its homework over the winter and, hopefully, with the changes to the track, it won't be a completely different game tomorrow."
Eighth fastest on his first appearance with the new FAZZT Race Team, Alex Tagliani paid tribute to the organisers of the Brazilian event.
"I think the promoters have done a fantastic job to facilitate the travel, the teams, the garages - it has all been great," the Canadian noted, "The track itself is very unique with the long straightaway, the longest in the series, and it's going to make for a good race and a lot of action.
"We have little issues here and there with the track, but everyone was very good and responsive and said they would get it all fixed overnight. Those are just first year glitches for a new track, in a new city and a new circuit but, for the long term, it is going to be really good to be racing here in Sao Paulo."
The veteran was also happy with his own performance.
"We were very pleased today," he reported, "This is the first year for the team and the FAZZT crew has just been fantastic so far - I'm very proud of the boys and the job they have been doing.
"The Bowers and Wilkins car has been good since we rolled out and has been in the top eight pretty much all day long. We finished the day with a very strong car and, even though we didn't get a clear lap, I think we're looking to be very strong tomorrow. We'll see where we stack up tonight on the charts, but I think we have a very good car for the race tomorrow."