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The drivers look ahead to Brazil 21 Sep 2005

Felipe Massa (BRA) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Belgian Grand Prix, Preparations, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, 8 September 2005 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Turkish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, 20 August 2005 Antonio Pizzonia (BRA) Williams celebrates his birthday.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Belgian Grand Prix, Race Day, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, 11 September 2005 Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Hungaroring, Hungary, 30 July 2005

Passionate fans, an undulating, anti-clockwise track and some pretty unpredictable weather. The men at the wheel explain the appeal of racing at Sao Paulo’s famous Interlagos circuit.

Felipe Massa, Sauber
2004 Qualifying - 4th, 2004 Race - 8th

"Obviously I am going to have quite a lot of pressure racing at home in Brazil, but I always love being here and performing in front of my countrymen. It's a very nice feeling. It will also get me used to the sort of pressure I can expect all the time at Ferrari next year, I guess.

"I'm really looking forward to the race, especially after the way the Sauber Petronas C24 went at Spa. I have very fond memories of last year's race, when I led a Grand Prix for the first time, and I hope I can do even better this time. Interlagos is a tricky circuit, and very physical. You are cornering all the time, because even the straights are really very long curves, and the track runs in an anti-clockwise direction which is unusual. That can be hard on the neck muscles, and the numerous bumps are tough too, but there are a lot of nice corners and getting them right is really satisfying."

Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber
2004 Qualifying - 14th, 2004 Race - 10th

“Interlagos definitely has character, but it's not amongst my favourites. It has some difficult corners and a tight infield section. It's also pretty bumpy. You need as much grip as possible for the corners but as little downforce as you can get away with for
straightline speed.

"It always has a great crowd - the fans in Brazil create a really special atmosphere. The weather has been tricky a few times there so if it rains again this weekend, we could take advantage of the situation as we did at Spa where I could finish sixth and score three points for the team. Sao Paulo has never been my favourite town but maybe Felipe will make me change my mind. In any case, I want to wish him all the best for his home Grand Prix."

Mark Webber, Williams
2004 Qualifying - 12th, 2004 Race - DNF

"I always enjoy the Brazilian Grand Prix, the fans are very passionate and knowledgeable. It was also a formative part of growing up, watching great racing there on television, particularly in the Senna/McLaren era.

“As with the last race at Spa, Interlagos can throw up a real mixture of weather, particularly heavy rain showers in the late afternoon, which can make the weekend very interesting. The track is, of course, famous for its anti-clockwise direction and also has many undulations and bumps, but I don't mind this as it provides a good challenge for the driver. After our fourth place in Spa, I'm hoping we can continue to push for more points at Interlagos."

Antonio Pizzonia, Williams
2004 Qualifying - NA, 2004 Race - NA

"Obviously I am very happy I've been given the opportunity to race again, particularly as Brazil is my home race. It will be very special for me to race in front of a home crowd so I can't wait. Interlagos is a great track, one which I really enjoy driving so I'm hoping to have a good weekend. The bumps make it quite a tricky circuit and a unique one when it comes to set-up of the car. The weather can be unpredictable in Sao Paulo and I wouldn't be surprised if we had some rain this year. It was good for me to be in the car this week at Silverstone, where we tested for two days, so I now feel better prepared for the race."

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren
2004 Qualifying - 3rd, 2004 Race - 2nd

"With only three races remaining nothing but another win will do for me in Brazil this weekend. I will be pushing hard to get maximum points for both the Drivers' and Constructors' Championships. Qualifying at the front will be important, as there is a slope that gets steeper the further down the grid you are, which can make your start slower. There are chances to overtake at Interlagos so we often see exciting racing here, the main one is under braking into the first corner. The track surface is very bumpy, which can cause major vibrations, so you need to be 100% focused at all times as they can jar the car, and you mustn't be caught out by it. Braking stability is key, as you have to brake at the same time as turning in going into most of the corners, and this is one of the many things MP4-20 handles well."

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren
2004 Qualifying - 2nd, 2004 Race - 1st

"Interlagos is a challenging track, that demands high grip, with lots of different features, including the long, fast straights and the twisty infield. The atmosphere is always amazing, the passion of the Paulistas is what motor sport is about, and the queues to get into the track every morning are just crazy. Also, the race is close to home so family and friends tend to come and watch and I hope we can put on an entertaining race for them. Interlagos is the third anti-clockwise circuit we race on, in addition to Imola and Turkey, and this does put different pressures on our bodies, specifically the neck area. However we prepare for this with our trainers so it is not a big deal. Myself and Kimi had a great battle here last year and hopefully we can dominate again this weekend by taking 18 points away from Brazil, which is what we need for the Championship battle."

Alexander Wurz, third driver, McLaren
2004 Qualifying - NA, 2004 Race - NA

"We had a positive test in Silverstone last week, where I was joined by Pedro. Work was focused on tyre selection for the Japanese Grand Prix, as we had already completed our pre-race programme with Michelin for Brazil. We will focus on completing the set-up and Michelin selection programme during Friday's sessions. The set-up will of course need to allow for the bumpy surface, although the ride heights will be raised slightly, we still need to keep them low to ensure we have the speed and handling required for the Interlagos track."

Jenson Button, BAR
2004 Qualifying - 5th, 2004 Race - DNF

"I'm really looking forward to the race in Brazil as this is a circuit where I always enjoy driving. The race is usually an exciting one with the weather coming into play quite often to liven things up a bit. It's a demanding circuit for both the car and the driver and your fitness is so important in managing the left-hand turns. We had a good test in Barcelona looking at development aero parts designed to improve our performance with a higher-downforce set-up. The car is handling well, which is essential as you need a good aero package at Interlagos. It is one of the bumpier tracks on the calendar so car stability is all-important. Unfortunately I haven't been able to finish the race during the past few years but have always been able to get myself into a strong points-scoring position. I'm looking forward to getting back into the action at the front of the grid and scoring some more points for the team."

Takuma Sato, BAR
2004 Qualifying - 6th, 2004 Race - 6th

"Interlagos is one of only three circuits where the track runs anti-clockwise and physically it's tough for the drivers with all the left-hand corners. The infield is very much like a karting track with all the twisty corners and slow speeds. It's a circuit that always sees exciting racing because there are some overtaking opportunities, although it is still difficult. The track used to be very bumpy but the resurfacing last year helped reduce that. We have had a positive test in Barcelona which is encouraging for the race. We will be back to a higher-downforce aero package after two low downforce races, which the team is confident will suit the car. It will be tough for me having to start further down the grid but I'm looking forward to fighting my way through the field and having a good race."

Fernando Alonso, Renault
2004 Qualifying - 9th, 2004 Race - 4th

“For sure, I am quite close now to the championship, but I approach this race like any other. We have been quick in Brazil in recent years, and now our car is even stronger in every area. So I am looking forward to the race. As always, I go there trying to do the maximum. What’s the point of going to a race and only aiming for a podium? You can’t do that, you have to want to be the best, to attack. So that’s what I am going to Brazil to do. We need to have a smooth weekend, no problems, and hopefully we will get the result we want.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault
2004 Qualifying - 11th, 2004 Race - 9th

“I am really optimistic for the end of the season. I want to win another race, and maybe Brazil will be a good opportunity. We have a new aero package, and a new engine spec as well, so I think we can be a bit more aggressive over there.

“I really enjoy racing there actually. Physically, it has always been quite a difficult circuit because it is anti-clockwise, but I think that after racing in Turkey recently, which is another anti-clockwise circuit, it won’t be so bad for us. Even so, it will be tough because it is a short circuit and there are over seventy laps in the race. In terms of driving the track, it used to be quite bumpy but that has been improved a bit now, and there are some really nice corners, like turn 11 which is downhill, accelerating and you need to attack without running wide. It’s a good challenge.

“Of course, I got my first win there in 2003 with the Jordan, and I finished second with Benetton in 2000. Even in 2001 when we were down on power, I scored a point, so it has always been a nice track for me. And Benetton and Renault were always quick there. So I think we can go to Brazil feeling very optimistic. Maybe we are not as quick as McLaren still, but I definitely think we can be closer than in recent races.”

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari
2004 Qualifying - 8th, 2004 Race - 7th

“Brazil is a dream destination for every Formula One driver. The people are passionate about our sport and we always feel very welcome. The excitement levels for races at Interlagos are high and, as Rubens (Barrichello) is Brazilian, the team receives even more acclaim. It is also great measuring yourself on this circuit though, being run anti-clockwise, it is a demanding drive. We will have to get used to it although we have already raced at Istanbul, another circuit raced anti-clockwise. Special training is a good idea as left hand curves can be a little tiring for drivers. The car can also be quite twitchy and so many corrections are called for, requiring even more effort on the part of the driver. This circuit is a challenge that I relish and where there are often entertaining races. Naturally, we do not have as high expectations for the race as we did last year. We will be well prepared but have to wait until Friday to really see what sort of shape we are in. Obviously, I hope to do better than in my last race. Whatever happens, we will be fighting for a good result.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2004 Qualifying - 10th, 2004 Race - 12th

"Our pace has looked good recently so our target for the last three flyaway races is to challenge Ferrari for third place in the constructors' championship. We are only ten points behind and we can definitely manage it if we continue to push hard. To come from near the back of the grid last year to the position we are in now is an amazing achievement and it's down to a fantastic performance by the whole team. The Brazilian Grand Prix is a race that I have always enjoyed. I always enjoy racing at technically demanding tracks, and Interlagos is certainly a challenge with a mix of low and high speed sections and some other things that make it quite complicated. I like the first corner a lot, and it is one of only three anti-clockwise circuits on the calendar, which can make the race tiring on the neck. Most of all, I remember the torrential rain from the 2003 race. That made life really tricky..."

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota
2004 Qualifying - 7th, 2004 Race - 5th

"Interlagos is a challenging circuit for both drivers and the technical team – one of the most demanding on the calendar. It's less bumpy than it used to be, which is lucky seeing as I've had such a pounding in past races that it's only taken a few laps to give me a headache! But even since they changed the track surface there are still bumps so you have to find a good damper and spring set-up. Apart from that you have to find a good compromise between aerodynamical downforce, mechanical grip and top speed. When you come to the tight corners on the infield like Pinheirinho and Bico de Pato it's important to have as much mechanical grip as possible, and as much downforce as you can find. But you have to balance that out with the two long straights, where the cars need to have as little wing as possible to go quickly. Away from the circuit I'm a big fan of meat so I'm looking forward to trying out some more great Brazilian steaks."

Narain Karthikeyan, Jordan
2004 Qualifying - NA, 2004 Race - NA

"I like Brazil and particularly the circuit at Interlagos, even if it is bumpy and hot there. It is a very undulating circuit and, as it is anticlockwise, like Imola and Turkey, it consists of mainly left-hand corners, apart from one of the hairpins. I drove there in 2002 when I was racing in the Formula Nissan World Series. We did very well and I hold the fastest lap record for the Nissan cars."

Tiago Monteiro, Jordan
2004 Qualifying - NA, 2004 Race - NA

"After such a great race at Spa and only three races left, everybody is very motivated to go to Brazil. The extra point could not have come at a better time. Brazil will be a very difficult track physically because of its anticlockwise configuration and also because it is quite technical to find a good set-up. We will have to be ready for the challenge. Of course, I am as motivated as ever - even more than ever - and I am looking forward to being there."

Nicolas Kiesa, third driver, Jordan
2004 Qualifying - NA, 2004 Race - NA

"I am very happy that I have been able to extend my existing contract for the last four European races to include the Brazilian and Chinese Grands Prix. I have raced at Interlagos in Formula 3000 in 2002 and, therefore, know the circuit pretty well. It is a very tough circuit as the track surface is uneven and it turns anticlockwise as in Turkey and Imola. This circuit has also more high downforce and quick corners. This will be very tough, but I feel quite confident that I am in good physical condition and also that our new car will perform well there as the more downforce we have, the better the car goes."