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Brazilian Grand Prix - selected preview quotes 24 Oct 2008

Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 19 October 2008 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1 with Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Force India F1 Team Owner on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 19 October 2008 Colin Kolles (GER) Force India F1 Team Principal with Mike Gascoyne (GBR) Force India F1 Chief Technical Officer in the background.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, Friday, 12 September 2008 Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams 
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 19 October 2008 Kazuki Nakajima (JPN) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 18 October 2008

Over the years Brazil’s Interlagos circuit had gained a reputation as one of the bumpiest tracks on the calendar. But last season, following extensive resurfacing, the circuit’s characteristic unevenness was a great deal smoother. However, situated at a high altitude and with a demanding anti-clockwise layout, the track still presents many challenges. Here the drivers and leading team personnel look ahead to the season's Brazilian finale…

Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India
2007 Qualifying - 12th, 2007 Race - DNF

“I've always had a soft spot for the Brazilian Grand Prix since I scored my first win there in 2003 with Jordan. Although a few of the people who worked on my car back then are still around with Force India, a lot has changed with the team since that year. Despite that the same spirit is there and everyone is motivated to do the maximum and get the best result we can, whether that's a win or just one point.

“The motivation is still with me too - I love driving, I still want to do well and push as much as I can. For sure it's disappointing if you are trying your best and you're still 19th or 20th, but that's the situation right now, we just have to deal with it and do what we can. In Brazil we know it's going to be tough, but the target has got to be to stay with the rest of the field and have as competitive a race as possible.”

Adrian Sutil, Force India
2007 Qualifying - 22nd, 2007 Race - DNF

“I'm really looking forward to Brazil as it is like a special event for me, being half South American. The track is very enjoyable despite being physically tough. The ambient temperatures can be high and it's sometimes very humid, but the toughest is the bumps. When you're going round the track during the race you really feel each bump! With it being anti-clockwise as well we use the neck muscles we don't normally use.

“In Brazil I will have one aim: to finish the race. After three consecutive DNFs we really need this. I've not been happy with the finishing record so far this year, we've just had too many times that we've not got to the flag, either through a mechanical problem or accident - whatever it has been, it's just not enough. if Giancarlo and I can get a good, competitive finish it will be a positive way to end what's been a difficult season for everyone.”

Vijay Mallya, Force India chairman and managing director
“We are now bringing Force India's debut season to a close in Brazil. I have given the team all the resources they required and I expected significant improvement. As the statistics have shown, we have improved and are now much closer to the midfield, but our progress has rather flattened out since the mid-season. Relative to other teams, we haven't made as much progress as they have, but to be fair to the team after Hungary I made a conscious decision to put time and resources into 2009.

“As many of the media has reported, we are currently looking into our package for next season and I hope I will be able to announce a deal very shortly. I will make sure that my team has the best solution for engine, drivetrain and KERS possible so we can get a good head start and try to get the points that have eluded us so far this season.

“Before we get to that stage however I would like to see a strong performance in Brazil. We are not finished yet - one more race represents one more chance to score points. While we're realistic, we can't give up yet.”

Colin Kolles, Force India team principal
“When you look back at the season in terms of results it's been a disappointing season and we'll look to this final race in Brazil to try to end the year on a better note. I do think we are in a much stronger position compared to where we were a year ago. This time last year we had recently been bought by Force India so it has taken time to build up the infrastructure, budgets and the technical structure. Hopefully we will take a much better step next year, but for now there is still work to do.”

Mike Gascoyne, Force India chief technical officer
“I think the entire team will be looking forward to Brazil. On the whole I think the team has worked very well this season, we are in a much better position than last year, but in terms of absolute results it has been disappointing not to have scored any points. It would be nice to finish it off in Brazil with a good end to the season.

“Interlagos is a fantastic place to finish the year. The track itself is an older circuit, with the most notable feature being the bumps that punctuate the entire track. Although they resurface it every year, it never really seems to improve! It has also got that very long curved straight that provides good passing opportunities into the first corner. The rest of the track is quite slow so it is a real trade off between speed and downforce for the infield.

“Brazil was one of the stronger tracks for us last year. We struggled in China on a higher downforce setting and harder tyre, but Interlagos is a lower downforce track using the softer end to the tyre range, which is where the car seems more competitive. We have had a couple of problems with the gearbox in recent races but we didn't do a lot of testing mid season, which is where you would normally iron out these problems. We are now on top of them however and I'm confident we will be reliable in Brazil.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams
2007 Qualifying - 10th, 2007 Race - 4th

“Interlagos is a really fun track to drive as it has a bit of everything - gradient changes, a complete mix of corners and it runs in an anti-clockwise direction which presents a different challenge for the drivers. We had a strong race there last year and I finished fourth. As we haven’t had a great showing in the past two races, it would be nice to do well again here and end the season on a positive note. It’s going to be difficult with this year’s harder tyres, and we’ll have to cover a lot of ground with the car on Friday to get to the optimum set-up.

“After the long trip to Asia, I’ve spent the past week in New York training and spending time with my girlfriend who’s over there working at the moment. As the Big Apple is in a similar time zone to Sao Paulo, and I'm now over any jet-lag after the trip to Asia, I’m in a good position going to Brazil later this week. It will be busy for me as I have several sponsor commitments to cover before the race weekend routines start, but I'm ready for the final round!”

Kazuki Nakajima, Williams
2007 Qualifying - 19th, 2007 Race - 10th

“This race marks my first anniversary in Formula One and I can’t believe how quickly it’s gone! I’ve certainly learnt a lot and I’ll be using that experience in Brazil this weekend. This race will be easier than some of the others this season because I actually have experience of racing at Interlagos. Our car worked well in Brazil last year, and I hope that’s the case on Sunday and we have a better race than we did in Japan and China. The track itself is fairly challenging, but it’s really exciting to drive.

“I headed straight back to the UK after Shanghai so I’ve had the chance to spend some time at home and also to do some work with my engineers at the factory in preparation for this weekend’s race. It was a busy time for me in Asia with lots of marketing commitments so the break was nice!”

Sam Michael, Williams technical director
“Interlagos is positioned at a high altitude and has ambient air pressures around 930mbar which causes an eight percent reduction in downforce, drag and engine power compared to when we race at circuits at sea level. The track’s undulating layout consists of mainly slow speed corners, but it does have a couple of high speed turns that are taken at either full throttle, or just before braking for a slow speed corner, so their effect on lap time isn’t significant.

“There are some good overtaking opportunities around the lap, particularly at turns one and four. The grid here is traditionally very tight due to the low fuel penalty and short lap time, so the midfield will probably be even closer than usual. Most teams will go for a one or two stop strategy and Bridgestone will supply the medium and soft tyre compounds, both options will be strong in the race. We’ve put in some good performances in Brazil over the years, last year’s race being no exception. This weekend, we’ll be looking to close 2008 with a good result.”

Jenson Button, Honda
2007 Qualifying - 16th, 2007 Race - DNF

“Sao Paulo is a fantastic venue for the final race of the season as it's such a lively city and the Brazilian fans are incredibly passionate about Formula One. There is always a good atmosphere at Interlagos. The circuit itself is a challenging one for the drivers, which makes it all the more enjoyable to drive. The track surface is notoriously bumpy and you have to have a good understanding of where the bumps are and do your best to minimise their impact. It has an anti-clockwise layout which is quite unusual and this means using muscles in the neck which aren't used to the exertion, therefore the correct training in advance of the race is crucial. I'm looking forward to the weekend and, although we have had a tough year in 2008, we will go to Brazil and give our all to finish the season on a high note."

Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2007 Qualifying - 11th, 2007 Race - DNF

“The Brazilian Grand Prix has always been very special to me and I am really pleased for the Brazilian fans that they have a fantastic weekend of racing to look forward to with the drivers' and constructors' titles still to be decided. Interlagos is special not just because it is my home track, but because it has a challenging layout with some great corners such as the Curva do Laranjinha. There are also real overtaking opportunities, at Turn One in particular. The main challenge at Interlagos is to find the best set-up for the combination of fast and slow corners, and particularly the tight infield section where high levels of grip are required. You also need to have total confidence in your car and a good mechanical set-up with a high ride-height to manage the bumpy surface. As always, I'm looking forward to having my family and friends around me for the race weekend and to racing in front of my home fans."

Ross Brawn, Honda team principal
"Formula One heads to the final race of the season in Sao Paulo with the drivers' and constructors' championships going right down to the wire. The unique atmosphere of Interlagos and the involvement of a local driver in the championship challenge should ensure a thrilling finale to the 2008 season and a real boost for the sport.

"Brazil is a fitting place to end the season with the Interlagos circuit providing an unusual and exciting challenge for the drivers and engineers. The location of the track in an inner city area and the passionate Brazilian fans ensure an edgy and electric atmosphere around the circuit over the race weekend. The track layout has an almost three-dimensional feel with the changes in elevation and the high-speed left-hand corners provide an extra physical challenge.

"By any measure 2008 has not been a great season for Honda. We have been focusing our thoughts and efforts on 2009 for a considerable time and for us, Brazil will be the closing of the book on this year, allowing our full focus to turn to the longer term plans of the team and our return to competitiveness."

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2007 Qualifying - 8th, 2007 Race - 8th

"It was very frustrating to be eliminated so early in China so I am determined to hit back in Brazil. This has been one of my best seasons, even if I have had some bad luck as well, so I am looking forward to celebrating the final race with another top-six finish. It's disappointing we cannot finish fourth in the constructors' championship but it's still possible for me to finish eighth in the drivers' championship so I will fight to score as many points as possible to do that. I was in the points there last season even though our car was not as competitive as this year's so I am pretty confident. Interlagos is quite a tough circuit because it is anti-clockwise and it puts a lot of strain on your neck, but I am fit and I've never had a problem. It's quite a challenging circuit in general and I enjoy racing there."

Timo Glock, Toyota
2007 Qualifying - NA, 2007 Race - NA

"This has been a very positive first season with Toyota and I want to end it with a strong result in the Brazilian Grand Prix. I feel I have made great progress this year and I've had a lot of fun as well; Toyota is a great team and everyone has been very supportive. It is a long season but I still have plenty of energy and I'm really motivated for this race. I have raced in Formula One at Interlagos before, in 2004, and my strongest impression was that it was a very bumpy track which was quite hard work for a driver. Our car wasn't perfect over the bumps in Singapore so I am pleased to hear they have fixed them in Brazil because that will help us. If you look at our pace over the past few races we can be confident of another competitive weekend and I will certainly be looking to add to my points total. At the moment I am 10th in the world championship and if I can score more points and keep that position, that would be a good achievement in my first full season."

Pascal Vasselon, Toyota’s senior general chassis manager
"From our side we always perform well at Interlagos, so we go to the Brazilian Grand Prix with high expectations and we are really looking forward to this race. Our car has been competitive at almost every circuit and we expect to be strong again at Interlagos. What is really crucial at Interlagos is tyres. Last year Bridgestone had been aggressive in bringing the soft and super soft tyres, which meant blistering was a big issue. But this time we have soft and medium compounds which should be much better suited. That doesn't mean to say the tyres aren't challenging because it will not be straightforward and there will be some hard work to do. Aside from that, Interlagos is very light on brakes and it is medium-low downforce."

Fernando Alonso, Renault
2007 Qualifying - 4th, 2007 Race - 3rd

“It was at Interlagos that I won my two world titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006 and so it always feels great to come back here. This year we have already achieved our objective to end the season fourth in the constructors' championship with the third quickest car so we can therefore approach this race with less pressure and be more relaxed, which may help us take advantage of the situation. After Singapore and Fuji, the team now believes that anything is possible.

“It's an interesting circuit which has some different challenges and requires a compromise with the car set-up. That's because the track is anti-clockwise, the surface is very bumpy and there is a mix of corners, as well as a long straight. You therefore need a car with an efficient aero package and good mechanical grip to set a competitive lap-time. Usually the atmosphere in Brazil is extraordinary: the fans are really passionate about the sport and it's a special place for Formula One. So it should be a great weekend.”

Nelson Piquet, Renault
2007 Qualifying - NA, 2007 Race - NA

“It's a circuit that is renowned for being particularly bumpy and so the suspension settings will be very important. You need a car that is supple enough to ride the bumps and the curbs in the second sector, while at the same time being reactive in the tight corners and having good change of direction. We will work on the set-up of the car and the suspension during the three hours of practice on Friday.

“I'm determined to have a great race - that goes without saying. But I'm not putting more pressure on myself because it's the Brazilian Grand Prix and my home race. Instead I'm approaching this race calmly and I will use the practice sessions to gradually improve the set-up of the car so that I am in the best shape possible for qualifying and the race. So I'm approaching the weekend one step at a time to try and deliver a great result.

“I know that it will feel great to drive in my own country in front of my family and my friends - it's definitely a big source of motivation and I'm really determined to get the most from the weekend. I will do my best to remain concentrated, work hard with my engineers to try and make sure we have a really good race in Interlagos.”

Pat Symonds, Renault engineering director
“If you look at the last few races, we've seen the car performing well at some very different circuits. But as well as our strengths, our weaknesses are still there and I think that the exit out of Turn 12 and the long drag up the hill to the first corner will be quite tough for us and not an area where we will be particularly strong. However, the car should be good through the quick corners of Turns Three and Five, and overall I think we can maintain a similar level of competitiveness to that which we've shown in the past few races.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2007 Qualifying - 1st, 2007 Race - 2nd

“Brazilian people love Formula One, love motor racing and it is really big passion for them. I really like to race at home and I think I race better at home. Do I need to say I'm very motivated?! I love this track, I grew up here and I know all its little tricks and secrets. I first raced here when I was eight years old in a go-kart, as the karting track is inside the circuit complex. The first time I actually raced on the proper circuit was in 1998 in a Formula Opel race, although I can't remember what position I finished. The track is not bumpy anymore as they did a great job on the surface last year. It's great to drive and over the weekend the atmosphere will be really special. The whole event is one of the best on the calendar in my opinion.

"It is impossible to predict what will happen in the Brazilian Grand Prix, but I think our car has always been very good at this circuit, even if I cannot explain exactly why. We have always gone well here and I expect that to be the case at the weekend, whatever the conditions, in the dry or in the rain and in qualifying and in the race. For sure, Lewis (Hamilton) will try and put pressure on me, but I have zero pressure, because I have nothing to lose. I have my people behind me and all the pressure will be on him, especially when you think about what happened at this race last year. I can't wait for the final Sunday of the season."

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2007 Qualifying - 3rd, 2007 Race - 1st

“We're ahead of the season's last race and the last possibility to taste the pleasure of racing for a while. This is what a driver loves most: putting on the helmet and fighting for the win. I want to fight for victory in Brazil and celebrate a good result with the team: this would give me a good feeling for the winter and the upcoming season. I'm happy to be in Brazil again. Interlagos is a track where there are often really exciting races. We drive anti-clockwise here, which is very demanding. But more than anything else this place reminds me of something very special. Last year I won the race and the title, something really extraordinary. The Ferrari very often went very well on this track and I hope that it will be the same this year. We're fighting for both titles, just like in 2007. We'll try a one-two win again. Winning the constructors' championship is very important for every team and even more so for Ferrari. I'm glad that I can help the team to reach its goals.”

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2007 Qualifying - 2nd, 2007 Race - 7th

"I love this circuit: it’s in this incredible natural arena that is just amazing to race on. And it’s anti-clockwise too - so it presents an additional challenge to the drivers. The track always seems to provide good, close racing: one of the reasons for that is because there’s a long straight leading up to the first corner and you can slipstream other cars and overtake into Turn One. It’s also a place where there seems to be a lot of grip so you can dice with other cars and have fun.

“(Last year) I went to Interlagos with the title battle still up in the air and all my emotions just bubbling up and down. It was a very emotional time because I knew it would end with either great success or huge disappointment. In 2007, things didn’t end up too well for me - but I still had a great first year. Everybody’s always happy to finish the season in Brazil - there’s a real party atmosphere in Sao Paulo on the Sunday night and it’s a perfect place to end such a great season.

“I don’t need to win the race, but that won’t stop me from going into the weekend looking to be as strong as possible. Shanghai was a good example of that: we hit the ground running on Friday morning and never looked back. Our aim wasn’t to push too hard, but we found ourselves in a position at the front and took it comfortably from there. That’s what I am hoping to achieve in Brazil - a straightforward weekend that allows me to just focus on my car and my driving.”

Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren
2007 Qualifying - 17th, 2007 Race - DNF

“With the championship as it is, things are a little different going to Brazil. Clearly, I want to be able to help the team and Lewis wherever necessary - but the easiest way to do that is to be running at the front. The team knows I will play my part, but we are also targeting the constructors’ championship. We may be 11 points behind Ferrari, but there are 18 points available in Brazil and we go into the final race still looking at securing both world titles - that has to be our aim."

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren Formula One CEO
"The track is fairly bumpy, so there’s a greater premium placed on finding a good, driveable balance. The track itself is situated at fairly high altitude, which has a knock-on effect on engine horsepower and downforce, both of which are a little lower than at a regular circuit. For this race, we’ll also be looking at the possibility of running Lewis’s engine in a safer setting so it has a bit more margin than normal. It’s something we do throughout the season but, clearly, there’s a greater need to be safe this weekend."

Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“Of course, the majority of the crowd will support Felipe (Massa) at his home race in Brazil, this will be the same for him as it was for Lewis in Great Britain. What will count in the end will be speed, reliability, to avoid crashes, and the cleverness of team and drivers. We will focus on our job. We know, of course, that we have to work a lot until Lewis will be able to clinch the title.”

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2007 Qualifying - 6th, 2007 Race - 6th

"I'm pleased for the fans, but also personally, that we have an exciting finale to the world championship. Plus, I'm curious to see whether the track is still the same as it was in 2007. That was a nice surprise, as the track's surface used to be really bad and very bumpy. It was always being patched up, but it was only when the track was re-asphalted ahead of the 2007 Grand Prix that it really became a good surface. The layout of the Interlagos track is excellent and very demanding on the drivers - not least, of course, as far as our neck muscles are concerned."

Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
2007 Qualifying - 7th, 2007 Race - 5th

"Brazil is traditionally the final race of the season, and Interlagos is a very demanding and interesting circuit. My first race there was in 2002 in Formula Renault, and I've been back with BMW Sauber for the last two years. Interlagos is physically very tiring because we drive the circuit anticlockwise. That's something we're not used to, and we feel it especially in the neck. I'm currently third in the drivers' standings, six points in front of Kimi (Raikkonen), and, of course, it's my aim to defend this position."

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director
“The 2008 Formula One season is now going onto the finishing straight. In 2007 the
outcome of the title was only decided in a thrilling final race in Brazil. Perhaps the Formula One fans will also get to enjoy a similarly exciting finale this year. Two drivers still have a chance of becoming world champion in Sao Paulo.

"The Interlagos circuit has many different aspects, and the weather can also be unpredictable. The long, uphill start-finish straight places particularly heavy loads on the engines. This uphill section also makes the start extremely exciting. Another of its characteristic is the altitude of Sao Paulo. The thin air means that the engines generate approximately eight percent lower output than at sea level. We are very much looking forward to the final race of 2008 and are aiming to record another good result to round off the season.”

Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber technical director
"For us, the Brazilian Grand Prix represents the end of a highly successful season, and of course we want to round the year off on a positive note. Interlagos is one of the few circuits - alongside Istanbul Park and Singapore - which we drive anticlockwise. Here, the middle sector is critical, with one corner following the next. The key elements are good traction and car balance. Top speed is important in the first and third sectors, with engine output playing a particularly prominent role on the uphill start-finish straight. This section also offers a good overtaking opportunity, as does the end of the straight in sector one. The track was resurfaced in 2007, which evened out a lot of bumps. In contrast to last year, when we opted for the softest tyre option, this time around we'll be using the medium compounds.”

Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tyre Development
"Last year we were too soft in our allocation and we saw blistering on many tyres, even those used by competitors who we would expect to be quite gentle on our tyres. We expect the medium and soft compounds to be a good choice, plus the change will provide teams with a challenge, especially as the track surface will have evolved from last year when it was brand new.

"We expect a lot of graining, especially at the beginning of the weekend. There are two reasons for this; Interlagos often has a very dirty track surface and the twisty infield layout makes graining likely, regardless of the track surface conditions. Interlagos is a track which is deceptive as it is not as harsh on tyres as you would think, although the weather conditions can play a big part, especially if it is hot like it was last season."