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Brazil - selected driver preview quotes 18 Oct 2006

Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Honda Racing F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day Suzuka, Japan, 7 October 2006 Sakon Yamamoto (JPN) Super Aguri F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Suzuka, Japan, 8 October 2006 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari celebrates his pole position in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day Suzuka, Japan, 7 October 2006 Sebastian Vettel (GER) BMW Sauber Third Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day Suzuka, Japan, 6 October 2006

It may be the last race of the season but there is still everything to play for as the paddock heads to Brazil. The historic Interlagos circuit is a firm favourite with most of the drivers, especially local stars Felipe Massa and Rubens Barrichello. Here, the men behind the wheel discuss their prospects for the weekend…

Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2005 Qualifying - 9th, 2005 Race - 6th

“My home race in Brazil is very special to me and always gives me a little bit of extra motivation. I was born very close to Interlagos and whenever I dream about racing, it’s always around this track. The first race that I saw there as a spectator was in 1980, when Rene Arnoux beat Elio de Angelis, and I’ve wanted to win it ever since. It is frustrating that I’ve never won at home, especially as I should have won in 2003, but there was a problem with the fuel. I had such a robust car that year, yet it decided to let me down in my home race!

“The track is physically very tough because it’s left-handed and quite bumpy. Some people say it’s easy, but that’s not the case because you need to have a good compromise between the low and the high-speed corners. You can’t concede straight-line speed for extra grip through the slow corners, otherwise you will be overtaken.

“Away from the track, there are many advantages to racing in my home city. I have my family around me and I can go home every night and sleep in my own bed - all of that is a huge plus. The race weekend itself always goes by so fast because it is really hectic but it’s one of the most enjoyable weekends of the year for me.”

Jenson Button, Honda
2005 Qualifying - 4th, 2005 Race - 7th

“It’s great to be heading into the final race of the season with a run of solid points finishes under our belts. It really goes to show just how much progress we’ve made in the second half of the season. I know no one is thinking too much about 2007 yet but it’s always important to end the season on a high note as it’s a great motivator as the team prepares for next year’s campaign.

“I think we can expect the same level of performance in Brazil that we have enjoyed in the past few races. The engine was looking strong in Japan and I think the car will be well suited to the track. It’s a circuit I enjoy, and it can be tough because of its anti-clockwise layout and notoriously bumpy surface. It should be a great climax to the season.”

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari
2005 Qualifying - 10th, 2005 Race - 8th

“The boys deserve the title. Whoever is able to turn around a situation like the one we found ourselves in this year, climbing back to the top and working extremely hard and passionately, merits huge respect and they have all my respect. They are the best at what they do and the Constructors' crown would be fully deserved. We are aiming for a one-two, nothing less. This is the only hope we have of taking the Constructors' title and it is all we can do. Everything else is out of our hands.”

"Naturally, I am aware of the fact that, after almost sixteen years, this is my last race. I hope that it will be an exciting race, that way I will take with me the marvellous feeling that only a win can bring.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2005 Qualifying - 8th, 2005 Race - 11th

“For Brazilian race drivers, the Brazilian Grand Prix is of course very important, we come in for a lot of media attention and there is a great deal of pressure on us to do well. I have been here in Sao Paulo since just after the Japanese Grand Prix, simply getting on with my training programme and preparing as much as possible for the weekend. The pressure is not something that bothers me too much and I can deal with it quite well, although of course I have never raced at Interlagos with Ferrari, in a car that is capable of winning.

“Of course, it is obvious that, given the situation in the drivers' classification, for me to win the Brazilian Grand Prix, that would mean that Alonso is in a points scoring position, whereas if he is not, then my race will take on a different direction and it will be no problem for me to help Michael. I will even be happy to help him."

Fernando Alonso, Renault
2005 Qualifying - 1st, 2005 Race - 3rd

“Brazil will always hold unique memories from winning the championship there in 2005 - and the fact we are fighting for it again in 2006 makes it even more important. It is a fantastic place, where you can really feel the emotion and the passion of Formula One. Brazil has a long tradition in the sport with many famous drivers, so you have the history too. It is great to be racing in this country, and especially with so much at stake at the end of the season.

“The track surface is normally very bumpy, so we work a lot on the suspension to make the car comfortable to drive over the whole race distance. The other main area is the engine, because the main straight is very long and uphill, so you need good power and good acceleration out of the last corner. Those are the most important factors from my point of view.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault
2005 Qualifying - 3rd, 2005 Race - 5th

“My thoughts are simple - it is one of my favourite circuits! I scored my first Grand Prix win here in 2003, and I finished second in 2000 as well. So there are good memories for me at this track, and I really enjoy its challenges as well. It is a difficult track, particularly for the neck because we are running anti-clockwise, so the left-hand side of your neck has a really hard time. Plus there are lots of bumps, which makes it physically harder as well; and it is a short track, so we do a lot of laps in the race. It all means that physical and mental endurance are very important factors.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2005 Qualifying - 17th, 2005 Race - 13th

"I have always enjoyed the Brazilian Grand Prix. Interlagos is a technically demanding track and I enjoy the mix of low and high speed sections. There are also other aspects which make it quite complicated, for example it is one of only three anti-clockwise tracks on the calendar and that can make it tough on the neck as the race goes on. As far as the car is concerned, the circuit demands a strong engine from Turn 12 to Turn 1 as it is flat-out with a steep uphill climb. But you must also compromise a bit on set-up. You need downforce for the twisty parts but there is only really one overtaking opportunity, into Turn 1, do you have to make sure you don't have too much rear wing and become an easy target on the straight. Last year I had a weekend to forget, losing 10 places on the grid before getting stuck in traffic in the race. I hope to improve on that and, after our strong performance in Japan, end the year with a result for the whole team too.”

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota
2005 Qualifying - 1st, 2005 Race - 8th

"Interlagos is one of the most demanding tracks on the calendar - both for the drivers and for the technical team. For the drivers it is difficult because of the bumps, even though it is less bumpy than it used to be after they changed the track surface. From the technical side, you need a compromise between achieving the maximum downforce and getting the best top speed. It is important to have as much mechanical grip as possible in the tight infield, particularly in corners such as Pinheirinho and Bico de Pato, but on the other hand, you need a strong top speed for the two long straights, where ideally you would have as little wing as possible. This weekend is the end of a challenging year for us but we have worked hard and improved a lot in the second half of the season. I had a pretty tough race in Brazil last year but I at least managed to get into the top eight. I think we can do the same this year - but I hope this time I can score more than one.”

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren
2005 Qualifying - 5th, 2005 Race - 2nd

“I have always had dramatic races in Brazil, I guess the track encourages exciting racing. The atmosphere is always amazing, the Paulistas are crazy and I hope we can put on a great race for them. Overtaking is possible here, there are a number of places, but the main one is into the first corner, you slipstream up the hill and along the straight and then pass under braking into the left hander. You do need good grip to be quick, and set-up of the car is not to either extreme to try and be quick in the twisty section at the back of the track and also up the hill and onto the pit straight. Another couple of the main features of Interlagos are that a lot of the corners have adverse camber and we run anti-clockwise. This will be my final race with McLaren; I am of course sad to be leaving the team. We have had some great times together and it would be fantastic to go out with a win. It is going to be tough, but we are all pushing hard to try and make it happen.”

Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

“After the disappointing race we had in Suzuka, I am looking forward to getting back on track and working with the team to finish the year on a high. The test in Jerez this week has been positive, with a lot of the focus on tyres with Michelin and as a result, we feel confident we will be able to get more out of them at Interlagos. The track tends to be fairly abrasive on the tyres, but we are fully prepared for this. Qualifying is vital here, so we have to improve our performance from Japan. Because of the gradient of the start / finish straight, you need to be near the front of the grid otherwise you start on a much steeper hill. The track at Interlagos is bumpy, this does lead to significant vibrations and it makes it quite a demanding race on the car. Braking stability is also very important in Brazil.”

Mark Webber, Williams
2005 Qualifying - 12th, 2005 Race - NC

“It’s clear it’s been a long and tough season for everyone at Williams but, with one event remaining, we’ll be doing our utmost to extract the best possible result from the package we have. Interlagos will mark my last race for the team and, of course, it would be nice to sign off with a strong result for the boys. All the focus, however, will be on the main fight for the championship. It was fantastic to see Fernando (Alonso) win at Suzuka but, knowing Michael (Schumacher) and Ferrari, they will continue to push until the end. As with the last two events in China and Japan, weather could still play a role in sealing the Championship as the Brazilian Grand Prix is often wet on at least one of the days.

“There’s always a fantastic atmosphere at the track, the Brazilians are so passionate about Formula One and will be right behind their home drivers. Interlagos is a very unique circuit, it’s a very bumpy and short lap and I expect the qualifying times to be incredibly close.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

“Brazil seems to be a great place. I was in Rio for the week prior to the race in order to get used to the time difference from China and Japan, and it is an awesome city. I learnt to surf there, which was really good fun. The Interlagos track is again completely new for me so I'm going to need to learn it fast. I will probably be at the track on Wednesday to have a close look at it with our engineers. Performance-wise, it’s important that we build on the progress that we made in Japan and I hope that the Bridgestone tyres are as strong in Brazil as they were in Suzuka.”

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

"I always enjoy coming to Sao Paulo. Not only is Interlagos one of my favourite circuits, I also love the flight path into the city. It's incredible to be hovering for minutes on end above those endless housing districts and shanty towns. Unfortunately crime is an issue here, as it is in many of the world's major conurbations. But we drivers don't really get to see any of it.

“Of course my fondest memory is of winning my first podium place here in 2001 with the Sauber Team. It was a difficult race in wet conditions, but everything worked out and in the end I was able to take third place on the podium next to David Coulthard and Michael Schumacher. I would rate the Ferra dura turn as one of the best in the whole racing calendar, although the bumpy surface of the track is not so nice. But they say it was improved last year, when I couldn't race due to injury. I'll have to see for myself, and I hope to round off the season with a successful race."

Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

"I know the Sao Paulo track from racing there in 2002 in Formula Renault 2000, as I was invited for the last round of the Brazilian championship. It is a very nice track and I like the configuration, even though it is a bit bumpy. There is a really big uphill section that you cannot see on television after the last corner, which brings you to the main straight. There are some difficult corners, but I think it will be a good experience to go back to Interlagos with Formula One."

Sebastian Vettel, third driver, BMW Sauber
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

"Carnival, nice girls, good weather, football, magic, rainforest - that's what comes to mind when I think of Brazil. I know a bit about it as I have had Brazilian team-mates. They are great fun. I think the people here are open for anything. Now with Felipe Massa they maybe have another hero coming up.

“I think the circuit is one of the hardest of the whole season because it is very bumpy and old, and you feel every bump in an F1 car because it is very hard. I think for the race it is physically a very tough job to get through 71 laps. Every time the race finishes the drivers look completely shattered. Also in the race itself I remember two years ago seeing Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso laying their heads against the headrest."

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri
2005 Qualifying - 19th, 2005 Race - 10th

“It is funny but I have mixed feelings coming to this race as the season seems to have gone so quickly, but also have been a long one at the same time. Following a fantastic double-header in China and Japan the motivation with in the team is high. Obviously Japan was our most important race, but to finish strongly in Brazil, the last race of the season, is also very important to us. The track at Interlagos is very interesting and has totally different characteristics to both the circuits in Shanghai and Suzuka. I believe that we now have a strong car package as we have been able to show that we are competitive during the last race.”

Sakon Yamamoto, Super Aguri
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

“This will be my first visit to Brazil. There were lots of events following the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka so I stayed there for a while after the race, but I have been working hard towards Brazil. I started participating Formula One half way through the season, but so many things have happened since then and time has flown by so quickly that I cannot believe that it is already the Brazilian Grand Prix - the last race of the season. Things haven’t necessarily been easy, but I managed to finish the race in Suzuka which is the circuit where I grew up. I would very much like to keep this flow going and do my best, together with the team, to achieve the best result possible for the last race of the season.”

Christijan Albers, Spyker MF1
2005 Qualifying - 18th, 2005 Race - 14th

"We have arrived in Sao Paulo knowing that the season is almost finished but its a great place to come before we head home for the winter. The M16 car has shown some great potential recently but our performances have been blighted by some bad luck. I know if we can get everything together that there is still something to achieve as the track suits my driving and I did well here in 2005. Interlagos is a very demanding track but there is always a fantastic crowd who make for a brilliant atmosphere. Let`s hope we can end the season on a high."

Tiago Monteiro, Spyker MF1
2005 Qualifying - 13th, 2005 Race - DNF

"It has been a long season but I am pleased to come back to the Interlagos track. For a Portuguese driver it is always great to come to Brazil as our countries share a similar culture and language. This ended up being my bogey race last year when I failed to finish for the first time in my F1 career, since then I have learnt a great deal and feel that the car we have now is much more competitive than a year ago. It should be a great weekend and I hope that we can end the season with something special as I know the team have worked extremely hard to get us here. "

Ernesto Viso, third driver, Spyker MF1
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

"To have the opportunity to drive an F1 car for the first time at the Brazilian Grand Prix is an absolute dream come true for me. Being from Venezuela this is my home race and Interlagos is certainly the home of F1 in South America. I have been testing for the Spyker M F1 Team back in the UK and I am sure that I can provide them with some valuable data and set-up feedback this weekend. With Interlagos being such a unique track in the World Championship the 3rd driver role has vital importance to the team. I have had some good performances in GP2 this season with iSport so it should be a fantastic opportunity."