Christian Horner Q&A

Arden boss Christian Horner's idea of seeing pit-stops in the International Formula 3000 Championship became a reality in the recent race at Hungary. With Bjorn Wirdheim having sewn up the drivers' title for Arden, it was decided to test out how well pit-stops would work in the final two races of 2003, before they were introduced full-time from 2004. Ironically, Wirdheim was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the new rules, using an early stop to leap-frog much of the opposition. James Attwood spoke to Horner about pit-stops and the future of F3000

Christian Horner Q&A

"I think it went very well, and was received well by both drivers and teams. Budapest has traditionally been a very processional race, as the tight circuit doesn't really allow for passing. But there was more overtaking and action in the race than at any other in the championship this year. I think that was in large part down to the pit-stops, which allowed people to use different strategies, and led to people running at different speeds at different points of the race."

"Yes, we decided to be reasonably flexible on our strategy. Bjorn ended up sixth after the first corner, after having tried to overtake Giorgio Pantano. In a normal F3000 race without pit-stops that's probably where he would have finished. But we decided to bring him in early, and put him in some clear air. This allowed him to lap really fast, and get ahead of the others when they made their stops. However, we knew that because of this approach his tyres would be rooted in comparison to drivers who stopped later. So Patrick Friesacher, who stopped late and had fresh tyres, caught up with Bjorn and was able to get past. But we still managed to boost Bjorn up the order to second, which was better than the sixth place he would probably have finished in without stops."

"I think that it's really important that F3000 is a feeder formula and training ground for Formula 1. Not just for the drivers, but for mechanics and technicians as well. I think it's vital that they play a role in the event, and having pit-stops in the races allows them to do that. It's also really good for the drivers, as they can learn about and practice pit-stops before they get into F1. They'll learn that it's vital to push on in and out laps, and they'll gain the skill of doing pit-stops during a race."

"The F3000 teams unanimously voted to introduce pit-stops straight after the last race at Hockenheim. We started practicing them just after than, and practice always improves things. There is a slight problem with F3000 cars because they weren't designed to make pit-stops during races. The locking nuts on the wheels can be quite fiddly to remove during a fast pit-stop. I imagine that there will be some changes to the cars for next year to make things a little easier."

"Arden is fully committed to F3000 for the foreseeable future. I strongly believe that it is the best feeder category to F1. BAR has shown interest in both our drivers, and is going to test them in September, and Jordan is going to run Bjorn in the Friday test sessions at Monza and Indianapolis. For young guys trying to get into F1, F3000 works. I'm quite confident for the future of the series. There are moves to improve things for the future."

"Yes. BAR has taken a lot of interest, through David Richards, in what we've been doing this year, and that's really good to see. We've worked outside their pits 10 times a year for the races, so I think it's impossible for them not to notice us. It's great that both Bjorn and Townsend [Bell] are to have a run with the team. It's a fantastic opportunity for both of them."

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