Gil de Ferran Q&A

The Champcar title battle has been wide open for most of the season, but Gil de Ferran has now established a lead that could see him crowned champion in the penultimate race at Surfers Paradise this weekend. At the very least he will definitely still be in contention at the finale at Fontana. The marriage between the Brazilian and Penske has worked out better than either of the parties dared hope. The team ended its long drought when Gil won at Nazareth, and consistent scoring has kept him in the frame all year. Once regarded as potential F1 star, de Ferran now seems more than happy with his life in America, and his trips to the British and US GPs this year were purely to see old pals like David Coulthard rather than to sound out future job opportunities. Adam Cooper caught up with him

Gil de Ferran Q&A

"It's going fantastically well. Obviously the results on the track have been good, but overall it's been a great experience for me. We're not at that stage yet where we're congratulating ourselves for a job well done, we're just totally focused on these last races. Anything can happen - it's so close that I may win the championship, but then again if I fall asleep..."

"Completely. You never know what's going to happen. I run well there, I've had good races there before, we've been running well in the street circuits, so I'm as confident as you can be going into there. In our sort of races you can't predict. Being competitive doesn't mean that you're going to win the race, by any means, because you never disappear up front."

"I think probably the best race for us was Portland. It was a great win, and I had to drive the race really hard. And it's always nice when you have the opportunity to do that. I guess all the wins are good. The first one in Nazareth was Penske's 100th, and my first one with the team. It'll be in my memory for many years."

"You could almost see everybody getting two inches off the ground, feeling a lot lighter. I have to say all credit to the team - on the next Monday it was back to business. It's a fantastic team. They have a number of extremely smart people, and the resources they have, human, technical and otherwise are just astounding. Roger himself is a very inspiring individual."

"Absolutely. There are two things about the team that impress me. Firstly, nothing is too much, you know. There is a 'can do' attitude that comes first from Roger, because it's very much part of his fabric. And somehow it's contagious - everybody gets in. Anything you need, or anything the cars needs, it's not 'we can't do this in time.' They'll find a way. That is very apparent in the whole team. And secondly, they work so hard. I think the clock has a little more than 24 hours for these guys. They just work non-stop. It's unbelievable. I guess you can just translate all that into commitment - they are just very, very committed team. There's no waffle, no half-answers. Like I said, those characteristics come from Roger. My relationship with the team has become more and more effective, or more efficient should I say. We've got to know each other better, we're getting better results for the same amount of effort, and things are taking off. I'm very pleased."

"I think it's still very, very strong. What happened is that you see a natural cycle where some of the older guys are retiring or moving on to doing different things, and you get younger guys such as Montoya coming into the series. That's the way it is in every series. It's difficult to get there - and more difficult to stay!"

"Yes, I drove in the last 500 that we were altogether, in '95. There's certainly an aura about the place. It's a very famous place, and you only feel those things in certain circuits. I remember the first time I walked into Monza - I had to stop and look around for about five minutes. Monza, Silverstone... I guess those are places you've heard about since you were young, and you've seen so many photographs and so much footage. There's a certain mystique about them that is hard to explain in logical terms. I certainly feel this way when I go to Indy. I always enjoyed F1 cars. I think it's a perfect combination, and I think the guys in Indianapolis really did a great job to attract the top series into their venue. It's a perfect venue for the GP and it's obvious that the crowd was really supporting it."

"I think it's great. It was really exciting to be back. My heart was beating as soon as the cars went out for qualifying. In my eyes the whole thing hasn't lost any of its excitement."

"I went briefly to Canada last year, but before that it was years ago - in 1993 or '94. But I still very much enjoy it."

"I guess from 1993 to '96 it was always one or the other - possibilities in F1, possibilities over in America. And for a variety of reasons I always ended up doing a deal in America. Obviously now I've got a three-year deal with Roger, so F1 is not in my immediate plans."

"I don't know. It's not spending a lot of time thinking about it. I'm primarily concentrating on bringing Team Penske back to its former glory. We're well on the way to doing that! I'm moving into what will hopefully be the most enjoyable time in my career."

"I guess David is my closest friend there. I'm always kicking the TV and screaming and shouting and all that!"

"Indeed! I tell you I'm looking forward to that one. I spent many years racing in England, and also Germany with F3000 and all that. It's going to be good. I still have a lot of friends over there, and I'm looking forward to that. I'm waiting to see what happens with the weather, and if they're going to be able to put the race in or not."

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