BAR F1 test driver Anthony
Davidson recently had the opportunity to test a Team Kool
Green CART Champ Car at Road America. This weekend, our
man in the paddock at Hockenheim, Germany, Bob Holder, caught
up with Davidson and asked him a few questions about his
Holder: How did your test
go with CART's Team Green?
Davidson: I did 50 laps in
Dario's car, and was happy with my 1.43.9 at the end of the
day as several established guys were actually behind me. The
team were great, very helpful and I enjoyed my time in the
States. The track was awesome; better than anything I've
driven in Europe.
Holder: What was your impression of the Champ
Davidson: It was fun!
Its quite a lot slower on acceleration in a straight line than
the F1 car and they have less downforce but they are still
really exciting to drive. It was good to get back to doing
manual gear changes again too. We did a lot of work for Honda
on their traction control system and I was able to give them
my feedback. I didn’t do many quick runs as we were testing
different aspects of the car. Dario is also bigger than me so
the controls were quite far away and I didn’t have a good seat
fitting but we were pretty quick nonetheless."
Anthony Davidson - The Road America track was awesome;
better than anything I've driven in Europe.
Holder: Might you
drive for them next year?
Davidson: To be honest, I
hope to get a Formula One drive but you only have to have a
quick look at the current driver market to see how hard that
ambition would be. My focus is on Formula One but I'm
considering all my options and CART would be my number two
Holder: What are you doing here this weekend; we
don't see you in the F1 paddock too often?
Davidson: I'm here at the
request of Eddie Jordan in case Giancarlo Fisichella could not
drive. I don't mind, I'm looking forward to catching up with
Jenson properly as well.
More on the Team Green test
Anthony returned to the U.K. this
weekend after a successful Champ Car "Driver Evaluation" at
the Elkhart Lake Road America track in the U.S.A. Driving the
Team Green Lola/Honda for the first time on his first visit to
the track, Anthony's "evaluation" in the Champ Car was seen as
being most impressive.
The original idea was for Anthony to undertake a two-day test
in the Champ Car on Wednesday and Thursday, although this was
reduced to just the Wednesday because of a historic Formula 1
program that was taking place at the track before the weekend.
Had the program gone to the full two days, one gets the
feeling that da Matta's times would have been smashed.
Anthony completed around 50 laps, nearly 200 miles, and
clocked a best lap of 1m 43.9s around Road America's
4.048-mile layout. The test allowed Team Green to collect data
for the upcoming Champ Car race at the track scheduled for 18
August 2002 without using an official test day, and it also
allowed Anthony to get some miles in a Champ Car, following
the arrangement made by Honda and BAT.
Davidson - It was fun! A Champ Car is quite a lot slower
on acceleration in a straight line than the F1 car and
they have less downforce but they are still really
exciting to drive.
"Anthony is a really smart
driver," remarked Team Green general manager Kyle Moyer. "He
has a great feel for the race car and he adapted well to a new
machine. I'm sure he could have run quicker, but we made a
major change late in the day that wasn't to his liking and we
weren't able to go back on it. I think he learned a lot during
"When the opportunity arose," team owner Barry Green said, "to
give Anthony a chance to drive a CART Champ Car, everyone
worked hard to make it happen."
The best way to get a feel for what the "evaluation" involved
though is from the man himself and he offered these thoughts
earlier this morning shortly after arriving back home from
"It was a lot of fun," Anthony said. "They do not pre-heat
tires over there so it did at first feel very strange having
to go out on cold tires. You do need to go quickly straight
away though on the out lap, to build up enough heat that will
let you 'go for it' on the 2nd full lap. Road America is a big
track. It is over 4-miles long and feels very European to me,
probably a bit like a lengthened Brands Hatch GP track, or Spa
(Franchorchamps). The track was so much fun to drive on that I
never wanted it to end. There are a lot of nice parts, with
flat out corners, places where you have to give slight lifts,
and so on.
The feeling a Champ car gives you is very similar to a Formula
Ford. When the back end breaks away it does so quite slowly.
The slide is gradual and predictable and you can feel the car
moving around. It had a nice balance and you can feel the
wings working beneath you. Thinking about it the Champ car is
a combined mixture of Formula Ford, Formula 3 and Formula 1,
probably more so Formula 3, bearing in mind that the Lola is a
mass produced production car.
The slick tires visually make the car look a lot wider than a
Formula 1 and the wheelbase is longer. I found that I was able
to jump into the car and I felt at home straight away. I was
able to left-foot brake without any problems. You do need to
be very aggressive with the car and I found that the more you
work on what needs to be done, the quicker you go. In Formula
1 for example a little more finesse is needed and you cannot
be quite as aggressive. The brakes though are very impressive.
To be honest there was no real difference between the Lola and
the BAR. The steel brakes were the closest comparison to F1
and were very good."
The KOOL Green team were not expecting Anthony to be that
quick, although his pace apparently came as a surprise to
them. "Yeah," he laughed. "I was within 2 seconds of
(Cristiano) da Matta's times within 15 laps, and by the time
we had covered another 30 laps or so I was within 7/10ths of
him. Townsend Bell was there at the same time and I was 1.3s
quicker than him." Reports from the team have also indicated
that Anthony's technical feedback was second to none.
Will Anthony be racing in America next year? Irrespective of
where he does end up next year, one thing is for sure... He
will be quick!
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