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Brazilian Grand Prix - selected preview quotes 21 Oct 2004

Felipe Massa (BRA) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, 24 September 2004 Ralf Schumacher (GER) Williams BMW FW26 in the pits.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, 24 September 2004 (L to R): Takuma Sato (JPN) BAR with Jenson Button (GBR) BAR and the Honda RN01 Mountain Bike.
Formula One World Championship, British Grand Prix, Rd 11, Preparations, Silverstone, England, 8 July 2004 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, 9 September 2004

The drivers look ahead to this weekend’s Interlagos race, the finale to the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship. Find out what they like, and don’t like, about the Sao Paulo circuit, and how they expect their teams to perform there.

Felipe Massa, Sauber:
"I feel lots of pressure racing in Brazil, but it's also a fantastic feeling to be at home. Running in front of my fellow countrymen is the best feeling I've ever had in racing. There is nothing else like it! When I was racing in other categories the Brazilian Grand Prix was always the race I paid most attention to, and I always hoped one day to compete in it. Drivers such as Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna were my role models. When I finally raced there for Sauber Petronas in 2002 it was only my third Grand Prix, so it was tough for me. I knew Interlagos well because I raced there four times in Formula Opel, but it was still difficult to cope with the pressure then and with learning all about Formula One. I did a bad race and collided with Mark Webber. Now, with the race being at the end of the season instead of the beginning, I have a lot more experience and for sure that will help. The Sauber Petronas C23 is getting better and better and I really think that we can do well there. Scoring points would be nice, while a podium for me would be fantastic!"

Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber:
"Last year gave me one of the most satisfying moments of my life, when I won the race. I have a very good feeling with the track. It's one of the best, and also one of the most difficult. There are all sorts of corners there, and on the first day it is always quite slippery because there isn't much rubber there. You need to be consistent, otherwise it's easy to make mistakes.

"In the past I did very well there. Once third, once second. Last year first! So I really like Brazil, and Sao Paulo, and I like the character of the people. They are very enthusiastic. I am looking forward to the race, and to do my best. I think the C23 will be competitive there as well."

Fernando Alonso, Renault:
(Q: What are your expectations for Brazil?) “I think we will be fast there. The car needs to be efficient aerodynamically, because we run quite low levels of downforce, and you also need good traction in the slow corners of the middle sector, and the out of the final corner to protect your position along the straight. These are areas in which the R24 is strong and we will also have some new parts on the car for the final race. We should be optimistic for the final race.”

(Q: What other challenges do you face in Brazil?) “The big challenge is in terms of fitness. Physically, it is another hard circuit - like Suzuka was. It runs anti-clockwise, there are lots of bumps and also it is at altitude. All those factors combine to make Brazil one of the physically toughest circuits of the season. Your neck can get very tired because the fast corners are all left-handers, so we work on that area in training to make sure I can attack all the way through the race, from start to finish.”

(Q: So will you be aiming to finish the season in style?) “Absolutely. It has been a long season but the whole team is very motivated to do well in Brazil and show everybody what we are capable of. The results have not been so good in recent races but I feel that I have been driving to the maximum and if the performance of the car is where we hope, then we can be very competitive. In Japan, we didn't do well enough in qualifying to fight at the front in the race, but I will be going for the podium in Brazil. That was how we started the year in Australia and it would be great to do it again at Interlagos.”

Jacques Villeneuve, Renault:
(Q: What has been your approach to the final race of the season in Brazil?) “Suzuka was a tough race for me so the team altered the testing schedule to allow me to run at last week's test in Jerez. The aim for that session was to get to know the car better and explore different set-ups but to also to get some more time to help with my physical conditioning. We didn't do as many miles as we would have liked, but it was important to get more experience with the R24. Hopefully, it will enable me to run more competitively in my last race for the team in Brazil.”

(Q: So what sort of performance are you expecting in Interlagos?) “I enjoy Interlagos - it is a tricky, challenging circuit, where we run the cars quite light on downforce, which means they can be delicate to drive over the bumps and through the middle sector of the circuit. It is also tough physically, so my run in the car at Jerez will be important preparation. In terms of results, I want to end my time at Renault with a good performance after two hard races and bring something back to the team. I definitely want to finish in the points.”

Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams:
“It's been a very long season, but it's still hard to believe that the next race will be the last. It's a change for the Championship to finish in Brazil, but I like it because it's close to home and I will see relatives and friends. I'll be flying out to Brazil a couple of days early to fulfil some sponsor commitments in Rio. The race in Japan was good, and we proved our car is competitive. Our aim for the last race will be to increase our points and maintain the gap over McLaren.

“Last year's race at Interlagos was very hectic and unpredictable because of the wet track conditions and all the accidents that followed. In previous years, though, we have always performed fairly well there. It's a track I like, its fun to drive and the atmosphere is always great. I am always amazed to see all those fans queuing up outside the circuit in the very early morning and I'm hoping to see some Colombian flags waving.”

Ralf Schumacher, Williams:
“I really hope we can follow up the great result we had in Brazil in Suzuka, it is definitely possible with the car we have at the moment. If our Michelin tyre is as good as it was in Japan, we could certainly achieve a podium finish. After six years with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team, I would really like to leave them with a strong result.”

Jenson Button, BAR:
"Brazil has always been a race that I have enjoyed. Interlagos is a circuit that has seen some very good racing over the years, especially last year with the wet conditions. It's also a circuit where our car will perform very well, better than in Shanghai and Suzuka I feel. This is the last chance we have of a win this season and probably the best chance over the last few races. You need good braking stability at Interlagos because a lot of the time you're braking and turning in at the same time. I think we have that and so we are looking strong."

Takuma Sato, BAR:
"It is a very strange feeling to be going to Brazil after Japan. Usually Suzuka is the last race of the year and I spend some time in Japan after the race. But this time I left Japan immediately to get back to Europe because the time difference between Japan and Brazil is huge. The Interlagos track runs anti-clockwise and is very bumpy. The weather can be unpredictable, so it will be a challenge for us all. Our focus in recent races has been to score as many points as possible for the Constructors' Championship and we have been very successful with this. I think our car should suit the Brazilian track well. I would love to end the season with a strong race and I am looking forward to it!"

Jarno Trulli, Toyota:
"I am confident that we will enjoy a better race weekend in Brazil. Suzuka was my first grand prix for Panasonic Toyota Racing and with any debut comes the added pressure of having to learn new things, most notably getting to grips with a new car in race conditions. The main hindrance in Japan was the lack of running we completed prior to qualifying and the race, so I hope we can get straight down to business at Interlagos on Friday. We have to get the TF104B set up properly in the practice sessions to give us a chance in the race itself. I always enjoy racing at technically demanding tracks, and Interlagos is certainly a challenge with a mix of high and low speed sections and most notably its anti-clockwise nature."

Ricardo Zonta, Toyota:
"As a Brazilian, it's obviously very important for me to drive in my home grand prix in Interlagos. Every driver always wants to race in the country where they were born, and in this case it's on a track where I have raced so many times. That gives me a good feeling about this weekend's race, although we have to wait and see how the TF104B performs as Interlagos is a bumpy track and we've struggled over bumps so far this year. But in Shanghai I was fighting for eighth place on a circuit that I didn't know. The Sao Paulo track, by contrast, is one I know very well. So if we do a good job and we can have the same speed as we had in Shanghai, it could be quite fun."

Ryan Briscoe, third driver, Toyota:
"I've raced round Interlagos once before, in Formula 3000. It's an exciting circuit, so I'm really looking forward to driving round there in an F1 car for the first time. We expect Interlagos to be dirty on the first day, which makes tyre choice difficult for the whole team, so my input's definitely going to be important. I've been enjoying my role as third driver for Panasonic Toyota Racing in the last few races of this season. I was a bit unfortunate in Japan when the weather meant I didn't get to do any laps, but the other four have been good. I've gained a lot of experience and learned a lot from the team."

Mark Webber, Jaguar:
"It's certainly different going to Brazil for the last race of the season rather than one of the first. But it's a circuit that always provides us with a good race, and I am sure this weekend will be no different. I spoke to some of the Brazilian drivers in Japan and they said the weather there at this time of the year is quite similar to what they have in March, so it'll be something to look out for, as it could be quite tropical. The Interlagos track suited our car quite well last year, so we will be working hard over the weekend to get the R5 set-up well and to get some good results. There are so many reasons why it would be nice to finish the season strongly, not least of all because it's the last race for the team under the Jaguar Racing banner and of course my last race with the team. It's also important we try to stay ahead of Toyota in the championship and if Christian and I can both have a trouble-free weekend, I can see no reason why both of us can't be in the points."

Christian Klien, Jaguar:
"It is hard to believe we are approaching the final Grand Prix of the season, and the last race of my first year in Formula One. It has been an incredible year, and I have really enjoyed working with the team, both away at the races and back at the factory in Milton Keynes. It is a great team, and I know everyone is pushing hard preparing for the Brazilian Grand Prix, where I will be doing all I can to fight for some all important final points. Interlagos is a new circuit for me, and one I am really looking forward to. Personally I have been a great fan of Ayrton Senna since I was much younger, so I am really excited to have the chance to drive at his home Grand Prix. After the last race in Japan, I have been at home in Austria, concentrating on fitness training in the Austrian Alps. I hope that we can get some points this weekend which the whole team really deserve."

Bjorn Wirdheim, Jaguar:
"Since returning from Japan I have completed a three-day test in Jerez, Spain, with the team. It was a busy three days, I drove over 280 trouble-free laps in total. We successfully completed our test programme working on developments for next year's car and we achieved some good results. I am now looking forward to going to Brazil for the final race weekend. Interlagos was the first track I raced at in F3000 and has some good memories for me. I like the circuit, it is a little bit different as it is anti-clockwise. The track is very bumpy, and I have been told it is quite physically demanding – I didn't find this in F3000 but of course it will be different in an F1 car. I will be working on set-up and tyre work on Friday, and hope to get some good results to help the team."

Nick Heidfeld, Jordan:
“Interlagos is one of my favourite circuits because I like the track and also it has the great memory when I scored my only podium so far. I hope the circuit is not as bumpy as it has been in the past. They are always trying to improve it so we’ll see how it is this year and hopefully it’s better. The Ferradura corner is one of nicest in the whole F1 calendar in my opinion."

Timo Glock, Jordan:
“Starting out in Brazil is going to be similar to China and Japan for me as I haven’t been there so it’s another new circuit. My last race was hard and I know I can continue to improve in Brazil. Definitely, I am hoping for rain because we saw in Japan two weeks ago that our car is relatively competitive in wet conditions. My plan is to do a good job and compete with my team-mate. It’s also nice to be racing in the last Grand Prix of 2004. I’ll do my best and hope for a good result.”

Robert Doornbos, third driver, Jordan:
“I had a little bit of time in the car helping the team with some aerodynamic testing at Elvington and I’m really looking forward to driving in Brazil. Everything’s been okay so far, I just hope we are luckier with the weather than we were in Japan. It would be great for me to have two good full sessions as it’s my last chance this year to show what I can do. I have never been to Interlagos before but Shanghai and Suzuka were also new to me, so it’s just another challenge! It looks like a good track but physically tough partly because it goes anti-clockwise. I’ll be preparing with TV footage, the PlayStation and when I arrive in Sao Paolo, walking the track.”

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren:
“My memories of last year’s Brazilian race are of course mixed having been so close to victory, and hopefully this time I will be able to take a good result to end the season with. I think that following Japan, everyone is looking forward to getting back to the normal schedule, although it was nice to have a day off! The key feature of the race is that we run in an anti-clockwise direction. This does of course place different physical pressures on us, as the forces as we corner are on the opposite muscles. We tend to run with a set-up compromise at Interlagos to try and be quick in the twisting infield and long, sweeping start-finish straight. This section of the track is uphill, making qualifying position even more important as the further down the grid you are the steeper the slope to start from, which is of course not ideal. After the race, I will be going on a delayed honeymoon with Jenni, before getting back to testing towards the end of November.”

David Coulthard, McLaren:
“With two real overtaking opportunities, the Interlagos circuit usually sees exciting racing. The main one is the first corner, if you slipstream along the straight you can pass under braking into the left hander. The race itself tends to be physically quite tough, one of the main causes being the very bumpy surface. It has improved over the years but still causes major vibrations in the car, which can unsettle it and as a consequence your reflexes also need to be 100% for the whole race. Car set-up is also heavily influenced by this particular characteristic, as we need to ensure it rides well over the bumps and it has high levels of grip. The race is always great fun, because of the fanatic atmosphere the ‘paulistas’ create, I am looking forward to racing there and hope we can secure a positive result. There is no denying that Brazil will be a weekend of mixed emotions for me, as it has been a great nine seasons with the team. I believe I have the pace, desire and ability to be competitive, and as I have stated I am not ready to retire. I am continuing to try and get a drive next year, but if I don’t then I’ll try the following year.”

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari:
“This year is probably my best chance of (a home) victory to date: it is the last race of the season and we know the F2004 very well. I am very motivated and I know all the crowd will be behind me. It’s going to be a great weekend.

“If I had not won a race before this one, even though I would have still believed it was possible to win at home, the pressure would have been much greater. Right now, I am in a situation where I won two races (Italy and China) in a good way, which makes it much easier to come to Brazil. Monza was a high pressure race and I said I regarded it as a sort of ‘pre-qualifying’ for the Brazilian GP. I’m feeling good and I’ve been at home since the last race, so I am very relaxed. I definitely don’t regard this race as a problem. I have a competitive car and I see it as another opportunity to show what I can do and share that with the public. I remind myself that it also took Senna a very long time to win at home, even though he was in a competitive car. The Brazilian GP is unfinished business as far as I am concerned.”