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2002 Teams & Drivers

Dale Coyne Racing
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Alexandre Tagliani
Patrick Carpentier

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Max Papis
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Bruno Junqueira
Kenny Brack

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Dario Franchitti

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Michael Andretti

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Jimmy Vasser
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Latest News and Commentary

Anthony Davidson compares CART & F1
by Bob Holder
July 27, 2002


Anthony Davidson sits in Champ Car for first time
Photo: www.AnthonyDavidson.info

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 experience.

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 Car?

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.
Photo: www.AnthonyDavidson.info

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 choice.'

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.

 


Anthony 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.
Photo: www.AnthonyDavidson.info

"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 the test."

"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 Gatwick.

"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!

Feedback can be sent to feedback@autoracing1.com

 

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