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May 8, 2014

Mikhail Aleshin

Scott Dixon

Simon Pagenaud

THE MODERATOR:テつ Defending series champion, inaugural race, nothing gets paid in the first practice, but better to be at the top than the bottom?テつ
SCOTT DIXON:テつ Today doesn't pay (laughter)? テつI thought every day paid.テつ
It's obviously nice to have a home race.テつ I think I mentioned before, apart from everybody thinking you get free tickets for the race.テつ
No, it's been good.テつ Seeing the changes I think through the process of changing the corners of the track a little bit, the reseal, for us it's been a real pleasure to be back at this place starting the month a little bit earlier.テつ
They did a fantastic job on the track:テつ one, with the grip level, and two, the way it's going to race with the long straights and big braking zones.テつ
Car has been decent.テつ Always hard to know what strategies people are on.テつ At the end it was tough for us to get a lap with so much traffic.テつ Hopefully we can have a good go at the pole tomorrow, but weather conditions could be interesting, too.テつ We'll see.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ Simon, you were a title contender last year, but having a strong campaign thus far.テつ Your impressions of the circuit as you went through it for the first full day here?テつ
SIMON PAGENAUD:テつ It's a nice racetrack.テつ It's flowing.テつ There's a nice rhythm to it.テつ It's in Indy, it's at home.テつ
It feels good.テつ The cars are nice to drive here, the IndyCars.テつ It's the smoothest track we go to.テつ I have to thank IMS for doing a good job for us.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ Mikhail, welcome to Indy.テつ You heard a lot about Indianapolis, but your first taste gets to be on something you're a little bit more familiar with, a road course.テつ Tell us about it.テつ
MIKHAIL ALESHIN:テつ Yeah, actually I've had a half day of test already, yeah, last week.テつ I really like this track.テつ It's amazing.テつ Very smooth, very nice.テつ Nice curving, nice configuration, interesting.テつ I think there's going to be a lot of overtakes in the race.テつ There is definitely like two good places to overtake.テつ
I think it will be very interesting, yeah, for sure.テつ I like it.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ Questions for our guys.テつ

Q.テつ Scott and Simon, both of you ran at Sao Paulo.テつ We saw how great the race was because of the long straightaway.テつ Compare that with this one and how you expect the racing to be because of that long straightaway.テつ
SCOTT DIXON:テつ I guess it's times two.テつ You have two straights of similar length.テつ
Brazil was a little different, a little bumpy.テつ A street course with different tires.テつ
I think this layout, because it is smooth, the grip is quite high, you'll see some really good racing.テつ You may not have the contact that you would have had at Brazil in those confined spaces.テつ There's a little area to run off.テつ
I expect it to be one of the best races we have this year just because of the layout of the track and how trim the cars have to be and even the different configurations that teams may choose to run the race.テつ
SIMON PAGENAUD:テつ Yeah, Brazil was fun.テつ It was fun to go there.テつ I think this track is even better for passing actually.テつ Obviously going to be something interesting at the start.テつ Every restart is going to be quite exciting, as well.テつ We can definitely run two-by-two for quite a while around the racetrack.テつ I think we'll really make the show exciting.テつ
I mean, like Scott said, such a long, straight line, you can really pick a level of downforce that can be different to the competition.テつ That's obviously going to make the racing even better.テつ

Q.テつ Mikhail, so far you raced in Europe.テつ How difficult was it to adapt to IndyCar?テつ Dallara has a simulator.テつ Did you use it in Italy?
MIKHAIL ALESHIN:テつ I used the simulator which we have in the team.テつ And HPD also helped me because they have a nice simulator as well.テつ
I think the main difference I found here is for sure the tracks.テつ I think the tracks and the car.テつ I haven't been to any of the tracks, so every race I go it's completely new for me.テつ It's just Sonoma and Barber that we tested before the season.テつ All the other tracks are completely new.テつ I think this is the main difference.テつ
The other difference is the car.テつ I think it's a bit bigger than I used to.テつ Actually, it's very nice.テつ It's good fun to drive.テつ
I think the style of racing here is a bit different, as well.テつ It's much more harder.テつ The drivers are not giving you any easy time during the race.テつ I think that's what makes it exciting.テつ

Q.テつ We've had warm conditions today.テつ It's supposed to be potentially rainy tomorrow and cooler race day.テつ Do you have enough data and enough of a feel for the track to get an idea in three different conditions what it's like?テつ
SCOTT DIXON:テつ I think if it's wet, obviously that will be a big difference.テつ The temperature difference, the horsepower is not as high, the downforce is not as good, the grip level is maybe not as good.テつ When you add heat, it just feels worse.テつ Everything about it feels worse.テつ Today being probably the hottest we're going to see, adapting to those conditions...テつ
If it gets cooler, I think the biggest difference there when it gets cooler is how much you're going to be game to trim.テつ It will make a big difference come the race.テつ It gives you a bigger window because you don't have as much degradation on the tires with less heat, things like that.テつ I think that's going to make the biggest difference.テつ
SIMON PAGENAUD:テつ Obviously compared to the test, a lot warmer, for sure.テつ We always come back with what we tested the last time.テつ For us, it works pretty well, so we're happy.テつ We're working on details now.テつ I think we have enough data to keep improving in the dry condition.テつ In the wet, you just deal with it really.テつ There's not much you can do.テつ
Usually a good car in the dry is good in the wet.テつ Hopefully it's the case tomorrow if it rains.テつ
MIKHAIL ALESHIN:テつ Yeah, I agree the same.テつ I think that Schmidt Peterson Motorsport will have a good car for us, for heat and when it's a little colder.テつ Doesn't really matter for us.テつ If it's going to rain, it's kind of a 'grand cassino' for everyone.テつ Everyone needs to get used to it and try to find the best line around this new track, which is new for everyone.テつ
It's going to be exciting for sure.テつ I think the weather forecast says it's going to be raining at least once maybe tomorrow.テつ It's going to be a lot of fun, yeah.テつ

Q.テつ Mikhail, is it correct you never had been to the U.S. before you put this deal together?テつ
MIKHAIL ALESHIN:テつ Exactly.テつ First time I was to the U.S. was November probably of last year.テつ I just came for tests, yeah, in Sebring.テつ That was my first time in U.S.テつ

Q.テつ Pretty great welcome.テつ
MIKHAIL ALESHIN:テつ I never raced here, so I had no point to come (laughter).テつ

Q.テつ Having never been to the U.S., what was your knowledge or thoughts of Indianapolis Motor Speedway?テつ Had you ever heard of it?テつ
MIKHAIL ALESHIN:テつ Oh, of course.テつ It's very popular.テつ The Indy 500, everybody in the world knows about this race.テつ Everybody in Europe watching this race.テつ I know even when we have a race, when we have free time, we watch this event on the track.テつ No, everybody knows about this race, about this place for sure.テつ
Actually, when I had my ROP test, I understood why it's so special because it really is very special.テつ

Q.テつ Why did you think it was special?
MIKHAIL ALESHIN:テつ It's just amazing.テつ You drive so fast.テつ Well, I think I'm a little bit far from the limit at the moment, but we have a lot of time to work on this.テつ I think I really like the oval stuff.テつ I just can't wait till I going to be racing with the guys around because that's going to be exciting, I think.テつ

Q.テつ Not recent news, but what happened with you and Bourdais at Barber?
MIKHAIL ALESHIN:テつ What happened?テつ

Q.テつ In your opinion.テつ
MIKHAIL ALESHIN:テつ Well, I think replay can show very clear what happened.テつ I mean, I was just braking.テつ I was not even watching in the mirrors because he was like five car lengths behind me.テつ He was like way too far to attack.テつ Unfortunately, camera didn't show that.テつ Camera just showed the end of it.テつ
Even in the end, it's very clear what happened.テつ He over-braked and ran into the back of my car.テつ That's racing.テつ Happens sometimes.テつ

Q.テつ Scott, you're from New Zealand.テつ Simon, many thousands of miles away from France.テつ Mikhail, many thousands of miles away from Russia.テつ What is it about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that would bring three guys to the middle of America to be here?テつ Is there any other event that you could think of that would do that?
SCOTT DIXON:テつ I think it's undoubtedly the biggest race in the world.テつ I know being a kid, coming from New Zealand, you still knew exactly what the 500 was.テつ I think the best racers for many years have been coming here to try and win back in the day, from many different formulas which we don't see as much these days, which I think would be cool in the future.テつ
But, yeah, if you're competitive and you do well and you want to go to the main stage of any racing career, I think the Indianapolis 500 is the biggest race in the world, which sets the bar of what you want to try and achieve.テつ
SIMON PAGENAUD:テつ I think growing up in France, as a Frenchman, I think Le Mans was a big race obviously.テつ It still is.テつ It is one of the worldwide events with Indianapolis exactly on the same level, I would say.テつ
As a racecar driver, I think if you could get the 24 Hours of Le Mans trophy and then the Indy 500, I think you've pretty much achieved something exceptional.テつ
As drivers, I think it's a dream.テつ As people, as fans, I think it's also the (indiscernible) of racing.テつ It's truly an honor to be part of it.テつ
MIKHAIL ALESHIN:テつ I agree.テつ I think 24 Hours of Le Mans, Indy 500, Monaco Grand Prix, that's what you need to have to be completely happy.テつ Yeah, so nothing really to add.テつ

Q.テつ Mikhail, your first time in America was in Sebring.テつ I can't imagine that was really a great first impression.テつ You had to think, Is this really America?テつ
SIMON PAGENAUD:テつ They took him to Caddy Shack.テつ
MIKHAIL ALESHIN:テつ You know what was the most amazing thing, because I came to Indy because I needed to do the seat with the team, I was amazed about the weather here.テつ I came out from the plane like in the shorts, in the jeans, no sweater, nothing else.テつ I was like, That's the same as in Russia, Moscow, even colder.テつ That was really amazing.テつ
But I'm living in Indy since January.テつ Actually I'm enjoying it seriously.テつ It's a nice place to live.テつ It's great that I live here because I can work with the team as well.テつ I'm actually almost every day with the team, so it's good.テつ

Q.テつ Colder winter in Indy than in Russia?テつ
MIKHAIL ALESHIN:テつ Yes (laughter).テつ When I came, especially in January, that was like the worst.テつ Some people tell me it's not so usual for here.テつ I don't know.テつ I hope not.テつ

Q.テつ Mikhail, now as the first Russian in Indianapolis, what do you think the media is following in your country?テつ Can we expect a big crowd of Russian media?テつ You said you came for the first time last year to America, but Indianapolis, the area around the racetrack, is there anything you can compare it with a city in Russia?テつ
MIKHAIL ALESHIN:テつ Well, about Indy, I mean, it's hard to compare because it's a different country, first of all.テつ Yeah, different traditions.テつ Many different things.テつ
But I think I really like the people here, that's for sure.テつ Everybody is very nice, very friendly.テつ I think that's very important when you change the place where you live like I did this year.テつ
IndyCar was never showed on Russian TV so much.テつ We had a couple Indy 500 races a long time ago.テつ But from this year it is on TV already, so people start to follow.テつ Actually, they start to open this category also, and they comparing it to Formula One.テつ Actually, a lot of people say to me it's a little bit more interesting in case of fighting, activity on the track, which I can actually completely agree.テつ
Yeah, for example, for the 500 race, there is a lot of media coming here from Russia, as well.テつ

Q.テつ With the rain in the forecast, the only obvious passing zones are in turn one and off of the back straightaway.テつ Where do you think the next passing zone will come up?テつ Which corner lends itself most to that?
SIMON PAGENAUD:テつ In the wet you can pretty much pass anywhere because there's more lanes basically.テつ You can try things on the outside.テつ You can find areas that you wouldn't have thought about in the dry where it might be grippy and you can make a pass.テつ
Yeah, as long as there's enough real estate, I think you can make it.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you very much for coming in.テつ

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