by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 193
5 MINUTES GPWEEK: What did you think of the Austin Circuit first time out? ALAN VAN DER MERWE: As a whole I think everybody was surprised at how well the event was organised. From the facilities to the attendance, everything seemed to run really well. The track itself as well was a pleasant surprise. You of course get to drive at a number of tracks that other drivers in lowers categories never get to turn a wheel on. What were your impressions of the track? Some say it's an amalgamation of a number of different circuits. It's incredibly difficult to create a brand new circuit that has character. If you take Suzuka, it’s had years and years to develop little bumps here and there and a lot of the new places we go to lack something that you can't quite put your finger on. In Abu Dhabi there's a good sequence of corners, but it lacks something whereas Austin had it. Little bits of off-camber exiting Turn One, for example, just added a bit of character. I can't think of another event that comes even close in terms of event and circuit. How often do you get to drive at Suzuka? Is during a grand prix weekend the only time? Before I'd driven the medical car I'd never been to Suzuka. While it's a great circuit, I don't like the fact that we've lost a lot of the character through the new surface. It's now very smooth, which is great for the F1 cars, but in general it's lost a little something in much the same way that Spa has over the years. There are less bumps, and I think that brings the difference between the best drivers and the not so good. Like picking your braking points? Yeah. Number one is setting your car up really well and identifying where there's more time. What's better? Having a car that can ride the bumps well? So there's less going on. If you look at British circuits, they're not really hard in terms of the corners, but it’s knowing the little bits about getting the most out of them, whereas all of these new circuits are as smooth as billiard tables, which takes a lot of the challenge away. Obviously you have a program you've got to stick to, but do you try to maximize the time you have in the car when you arrive at tracks like Suzuka? Well my job here is not to get the last tenth out of the car. My job is to be able to drive as quickly as I can and still have plenty of capacity left to talk on the radio and think for a lot of other people. Basically, to be looking in all sorts of directions: not just thinking about our own car but the race cars, thinking ahead, and always having a bit of an exit strategy if something were to go wrong. On Thursday we have an hour to pound around shaking the cars down, plus testing the TV and timing systems along with the FIA marshalling system; basically for me to get comfortable in the car. It sounds trivial, but it makes a big difference. You have to drive within five percent of the car's limit. And from a standing start! Yes, you're basically going from zero adrenaline. Dr Roberts and I have an intercom system that we speak to each other on and other than that just Race Control, so there's very little going on. Even with things going on 5 MINUTES WITH ALAN VAN DER MERWE TRENT PRICE talks to the man behind the wheel of F1's Medical Car 18 GPWEEK.com // 18 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: