Formula one, 2001 season United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis: Setting the scene: the jpoc report
The journey to Indianapolis was inevitably affected by the terrorist attack on New York but the reality was that this was never going to stop the F1 teams from attending the race. Various people put rumours about that one party or another was reluctant to attend but mostly these were just the typical groundless rumours that flood F1 from time to time. The daftest rumour was sparked by Ralf Schumacher challenging Bernie Ecclestone to turn up for the race. Bernie is the kind of man for whom the expression "hard as nails" is woefully inadequate. He is also a very shrewd operator and even if he was worried about security in the US, he would never show it by failing to turn up for the race.

The logistics of the journey were more of an issue but even that was not a serious problem. The F1 circus has one of the most sophisticated transportation and logistics systems in the civilian world and while the extra precautions had a cost in time and effort, there was never any prospect that the cars and teams would not arrive.

The US GP would see the second F1 race for Tomas Enge, Prost's Czech newcomer. Regular driver, Lucian Burti announced that he would not return to F1 until 2002 as a result of the effects of his injuries at Spa. Prost also signed Jaroslav Janis, another Czech, to work alongside Jonathan Cochet as a test driver for the rest of the year. Of course, with just two weeks available for testing in the rest of the year, that was not much of a test drive deal.

The tight timescales between Monza and Indianapolis combined with the looming winter testing ban to put a real squeeze on the team's testing activities. Nobody had any major new developments to try and instead the teams concentrated on tyre and aerodynamics testing for the Indianapolis circuit. The other interesting activity was that a number of teams were testing out new drivers for 2002. For some, all that was on offer was a test drive but there were also some opportunities for race seats.

The man who looked best placed to pick up a drive was F3000 champion Justin Wilson. Jordan gave him a long and extensive test at Silverstone. His total mileage amounted to about two full race distances and he also got the opportunity to try setting times. That was a lot more of a try out than a driver would expect for his first ever run in an F1 car and Wilson aquitted himself well with a tidy run and a time just half a second off Alesi's best. Jordan also gave a brief run to Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan but there was no prospect of his being allowed to show what he could do to justify a race drive in 2002.

McLaren gave a run to Swiss Driver Marcel Fassler as part of their evaluation of potential test drivers.

Over at Estoril, Williams gave a turn to Antonio Pizzonia and Ricardo Sperafico. The two Brazillians were hoping for a test drive slot alongside existing test driver Marc Gene. The long test ban was already making the top teams look hard at the case for having two full time test drivers.

Yet another Brazillian was given a run. This time, at Mugello, Sauber tried out Felipe Massa. He was in line for a race drive alongside Nick Heidfeld and the team certainly had some kind words about him but there was no announcement about his chances of the drive.


The whole 2001 season All the races and the behind the scenes games
United States GP at Indianapolis September 30th 2001 Who drives what?
United States GP at Indianapolis September 30th 2001 Which engine goes where?
United States GP at Indianapolis September 30th 2001 Business and politics
United States GP at Indianapolis September 30th 2001 Teams and personnel
United States GP at Indianapolis September 30th 2001 Circuit news
United States GP at Indianapolis September 30th 2001 Practice and qualifying
United States GP at Indianapolis September 30th 2001 The starting grid
United States GP at Indianapolis September 30th 2001 Race report
United States GP at Indianapolis September 30th 2001 Results
United States GP at Indianapolis September 30th 2001 Championship standings after the race
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