After achieving the best overall result in the short history of the BMW Sauber F1 Team at the Canadian Grand Prix with second for Nick Heidfeld, in just a few day's time the next race, the US Grand Prix, will take place.
Please Note: All statements in this preview were made prior to race day in Montreal. Therefore, Robert Kubica's accident has not been taken into account. It will only be on Thursday in Indianapolis that a decision can be taken whether the Pole will be able to drive alongside Nick Heidfeld.
Nick Heidfeld: I like it when race tracks have a distinctive character, and that's definitely the case with Indianapolis. The Speedway is an icon of American motor racing, and the high-banked turn is something special for Formula One, although it isn't exactly challenging for the drivers to drive flat out in a straight line. It's far more difficult to get the car's set-up just right. You have to find the right compromise so as to be as fast as possible along the almost two-kilometre full-throttle stretch, yet still have enough downforce for the many corners in the twisty infield.
My memories of Indy are very varied. In 2001 I managed a sixth-placed finish there with Sauber, although I had lost my first, second and, most crucially, seventh gear. That was one of my best races. A less pleasant memory is the accident in 2006. We had done well in qualifying, but shortly after the start I was involved in a collision and turned over for the first and, hopefully, last time in my career.
Robert Kubica: Indy is the second race of our trip overseas and I really don't have any special feeling in my mind for the track. There are long straights, which are punctuated by the last corner which is banked, and then you come into a part where it is very slow. You have to have the right configuration between high speed and slow corners. I think it is a good track for our cars.
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: Indianapolis is a special occasion for Formula One. The Speedway is renowned the world over and symbolises American motor sport like no other race track.
For the BMW Group the USA Grand Prix is of key importance insofar as the United States is our biggest market. We sell more cars there than in Germany and also have our biggest production sites outside Germany.
Another superlative that Indy can claim is in the mechanical loads exerted on the engines. Drivers go flat out for 23 seconds, most of it in seventh gear. That takes the units to the limit of their performance. In the past, BMW has lost a lot of points in Indianapolis as a result of accidents. From that point of view, my hope is above all for a collision-free weekend.
Willy Rampf, Technical Director: The Indianapolis Speedway is fundamentally different from the circuit at Montreal, yet both tracks demand a medium downforce level. In Indy that is the result of a tricky compromise. On the oval section you have a 1,860-metre full-throttle section – the longest flat-out stretch to date on the whole F1 calendar. To achieve maximum top speed, you would want to take the Indy oval with a very low wing setting and minimal drag. But with a low-downforce package of the kind we use in Monza, there wouldn't be nearly enough downforce for the 11 turns in the Indianapolis infield section. If you haven't got sufficient braking stability and traction in these corners, you lose more time than can be gained on the straights. In the infield, where you shift down all the way to first, you want the maximum possible downforce, similar to Monaco or Budapest.
These radically different demands made by the oval and the infield section turn set-up work at Indy into a fine balancing act. In 2006 we made quite a good job of it. For the race, it is also worth noting that there are passing opportunities at the end of the straights. And the transition to the infield the track is so wide that it can accommodate a number of possible lines.