ABOUT ADJUSTMENT TO HAVING TEAMMATES: “It’s a new challenge in itself. A lot of people look at our new group at CFH Racing and said, ‘Well that’s automatically be better.’ I think we have a lot of very good people and we had strengths and weaknesses on both sides. Hopefully we kept all of our strengths and reduced some of our weaknesses together as one group. It is still difficult. You have to figure out how to make two cars run well. Most of these teams that have multiple cars have had multiple cars for many years and they know the system they work with and it works well for them. For us, we’re still figuring that out and how to maximize having two cars during a weekend. We’re so used to working with just one car that it’s a little different when you have someone to look at and two data sets and two sets of engineers. It’s still positive but it’s difficult to get the most out of that. We’re trying to work the strengths of both sides. Luca is a little bit different than me, which is good, because we can learn from each other. He’ll do something better, and then I’ll do something better and we’ll improve from it. As a driver it’s nice to have during a weekend. To look at someone’s data and finding out how to improve."
ABOUT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 2014 AND 2015 CARS: “I think practice speeds are already a second faster from last year’s first practice. There’s a noticeable speed increase and that’s from downforce without a lot of drag penalty. They’re very efficient packages and Chevrolet and Honda have spent millions of dollars into making the best aerodynamic pieces that they can. They are quite impressive. They do things better than before. They brake better. You can go deeper in corners and carry more speed through a corner. The rear end is a little more secure. Everything on the car is lot more refined and it’s just faster. That’s the big difference in plain terms. But trying to get the most out of it is what everyone is struggling with. Probably looks straight forward, but there’s a lot of work that everyone is doing to get the most out of the new aero kits. It all depends on the team and driver, but it has changed how you drive the cars. You have to use what the kit gives you. You did before, but it’s even more so now. There’s also an engine battle going on as well and there’s some differences on both sides. It’s not all about aerodynamics, it’s about making the engine work well with that."
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE YOU TO FIGURE OUT HOW DEEP CAN YOU GO?: “Really about two laps. In winter testing you could feel that you could immediately brake deeper in Turn 1 (at NOLA). It was like 50-75 feet deeper. My neck was really sore after one day of testing. Usually I’m not and I get used to the downforce level of a car. The back of my neck from braking was not used to it. It took a day or two to get used to it. All of these guys are so good, if you give them four or five laps to figure it out."
HOW WILL AERO KITS AFFECT RACING: “I don’t think we know yet. That’s the big hot debate and certainly I’m interested. I think after this first race gets over with, we’ll know if the racing is better or worse. I don’t think you could beat Indy car racing before. It was the most phenomenal racing on the planet. You could follow closely, the cars were incredible to drive in a race condition. You saw some many passing attempts. I don’t think that’s going to change. That’s what we’ll find out on Sunday."
LUCA FILIPPI, NO. 20 FUZZY’S AWARD WINNING VODKA CHEVROLET: ON BEING AT ST. PETERSBURG:
“As usual, lap times are so close and within a few tenths. We were very close and I think we had an opportunity for one of us to be top-five. Hopefully tomorrow it will be sunny so we can have some more running in practice before getting into qualifying. It’s my first time here so I also need to learn the track. I like the circuit very much. It’s fun to drive and very challenging. Now that we have had this first session, we can get up to speed and try to get a good result."
YOU SAID THIS WAS YOUR FIRST TIME DRIVING THE TRACK BUT IT’S NOT YOUR FIRST TIME HERE AS YOU’VE SEEN A VERIZON INDYCAR RACE HERE AT ST. PETERSBURG. HOW HAVE YOUR IMPRESSIONS CHANGED?
“I came here two years ago to watch the race and when I was looking to get an IndyCar seat. I was in the grandstands having fun and dreaming about racing IndyCar one day, so I’m happy to be here finally. I did some IndyCar races before but now I have a deal for the whole season, so now I can start working and learning from that. Learning tracks is going to be one of the keys this year for me. So far, this is a circuit that suits my driving, so I’m enjoying it. I’ve already learned more or less how to drive around here. I’m hoping tomorrow we can be on the front row."
HOW HAS THE CAR BEEN SO FAR?
“Being one second a lap quicker (than last year) with the new aero kit and with actually less downforce under us means that the work that Chevy and Honda have done is amazing. It’s probably more than two seconds a lap better. This is why IndyCar had to reduce the downforce in order to stop us a little. They’ve done a very good job, and from our side we’re very happy with Chevrolet and what they have done so far."
WITH THE CARS MORE DEPENDENT ON WINGS, AS A DRIVER WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO TO MAKE SURE YOU DON’T BREAK ONE? IS IT A BIGGER FACTOR NOW?
“On our side with Chevrolet, we have less parts in front of our front wing. So if you break a piece, it’s not such a big problem. Our kit is solid. I can say that the downforce that our team has is not coming from the pieces you see on top of it. This is not going to be a big issue for us."
THIS IS THE FIRST SESSION YOU HAD. DID YOU GO OUT THERE WITH ALL THIS NEW STUFF TO LEARN AND TRY DIFFERENT THINGS? YOU WERE BOTH RIGHT THERE TOGETHER TIMEWISE IN THE PRACTICE SESSION?
“In looking at the telemetry, my engineer always keeps an eye on what Josef is doing. Between runs, they can just tell me how to change my driving style, brake deeper here and there, and I can adjust my driving style how I need it between every run. So it’s a big help because there is some of the circuit I hadn’t seen."
HOW LONG DO YOU THINK IT TAKES YOU TO LEARN A TRACK?
“If you’re talking about getting close to the limit, it’s around seven to eight laps. On the limit, I’d say on one set of tires. When you go to the next set, you can get up to speed and be very close to the limit. So that’s about 35 laps more or less. If it takes longer, then you just need to change jobs!"