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Brazilian Grand Prix - team and driver preview quotes 13 Oct 2009

Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 4 October 2009 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Brawn Grand Prix on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 4 October 2009 Ross Brawn (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, Thursday, 1 October 2009 Hirohide Hamashima (JPN) Head of Bridgestone Tyre Development.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Suzuka, Japan, Saturday, 3 October 2009 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 2 October 2009

Boasting one of the longest straights on the calendar, the famous Senna S, a bumpy track surface and an anti-clockwise layout, Interlagos is a true test of driver skill and strength. Combine that with passionate local fans, unpredictable weather and some very real overtaking opportunities, and it’s clear why the Sao Paulo circuit is a favourite amongst teams and drivers. Here they reveal the appeal of racing in Brazil…

Jenson Button, Brawn GP
2008 Qualifying - 17th, 2008 Race - 13th

"This year will be the first time for a while that we've been to Sao Paulo for the Brazilian Grand Prix when it hasn't been the final race of the season but it's still going to be such an exciting weekend. There's always a great atmosphere at Interlagos and the Brazilian fans are so passionate about motor racing and particularly Formula One. Interlagos is quite an unusual circuit and it's an enjoyable challenge for the drivers. The anti-clockwise direction, changes in elevation and bumpy surface all keep your attention fully focused and the high-speed left-hand corners add an extra physical challenge. It's an important race for me and for the team in terms of the championships and we will be working hard to get the best results possible from the weekend. It's going to be a challenge but one that we are all looking forward to."

Rubens Barrichello, Brawn GP
2008 Qualifying - 15th, 2008 Race - 15th

"The Brazilian Grand Prix is always a special weekend for me and I am very proud of my home race. I was born very close to Interlagos and used to visit the circuit as a young boy and began my karting career there when I was six years old. I really enjoy having my family and friends around for the weekend and it's fantastic to race in front of the Brazilian fans and receive so much support over the weekend. The circuit has become almost like a second home to me over the years but it still retains a real sense of challenge. Our car should suit the layout of the track this year and you really need to have full confidence in your set-up to maximise the quick corners, the tight infield section and the bumpy surface. Interlagos has some great corners such as the Curva do Laranjinha and there are real overtaking opportunities into the S do Senna at the start of the lap and under braking for Descida do Lago at the end of the back straight. I will be giving it my all this weekend to achieve the best possible result here in Brazil and hope the fans enjoy a fantastic weekend of racing."

Ross Brawn, Brawn GP team principal
"With the constructors' and drivers' championships still to be decided, the Brazilian Grand Prix should be a fascinating and exciting weekend for the fans at the circuit and viewers around the world. Interlagos provides a great challenge for the teams and drivers with the high altitude location and the notoriously bumpy surface as two of the key considerations when setting up the cars for the weekend. The reduced atmospheric pressure causes a loss in engine power and aerodynamic performance while the cars have to run with an increased ride height to cope with the bumps which are particularly noticeable in the braking area for Turn Four, the Descida do Lago. Interlagos is a great venue and the lap is characterised by long straights with flowing left-hand corners and a twisty infield section. The changes in elevation give the circuit an almost three-dimensional feel and the electric atmosphere from the Brazilian fans always makes for a spectacular occasion. The weather has been known to play its part in races at Interlagos over the years so we will be keeping a close eye on the forecast for the weekend. Brazil will be an important race for the team and our drivers and we're looking forward to getting the track action underway."

Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development
"This is a very challenging and exciting circuit. The first corner comes at the end of a long straight, and it goes downhill, meaning that finding the correct braking point is difficult. We expect to see some overtaking and brake locking here, and this could damage the tyres. The circuit surface often starts very dirty and we see a lot of improvement over the weekend. As we saw last year, the weather can also be a very big challenge. Interlagos is a circuit where high grip is a priority. We have the stiffness gap in our allocation, so teams will have to work out the best set-ups for both tyres, and there should be many strategy considerations and possibilities. Traditionally we would see a lot of graining here, due to the initially dirty surface and the twisty infield section, however this will be less of a factor this season, due to slick tyres being more resistant to graining relative to the grooved tyres we used before."

Adrian Sutil, Force India
2008 Qualifying - 20th, 2008 Race - 16th

“Japan was a bit of a missed opportunity so I'm definitely looking forward to getting to Brazil. Interlagos is a great track, not that long, but with a lot of camber and undulation that makes it a bit like a rollercoaster - particularly with the bumps. There's a twisty section and then that long, uphill straight that needs a set-up somewhere between Spain and Belgium so there's a chance we could perform well there. I'm feeling confident about going well there.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India
2008 Qualifying - N/A, 2008 Race - N/A

“I'm definitely optimistic about this next race in Brazil. Japan was pretty tough because of the rain and the lack of track time on Saturday due to our gearbox problem, so we were always fighting an uphill battle. I am now really looking forward to Brazil. I like the circuit and I've been pretty fast there in the past so with the combination of this confidence and the car performance I think we could be really competitive. I'm looking forward to being in a strong position. It's a good circuit, perhaps not one of my favourites, but it has a lot of up and downhill sections with a lot of banking so it's interesting to drive. The Brazilian crowd is also wonderful and the atmosphere pretty much unique. It's a fantastic event.”

Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India chairman and team principal
“We will be giving it everything we have. Brazil should suit us, our car has performed well on tracks with a similar configuration, and now we've got the taste for points we want to get some more. BMW are 11 points ahead of us in the constructors' championship so if Tonio and Adrian push hard we could at least close that gap. It's going to be difficult but we have everything to gain and nothing to lose by making this our aim. We expected it to be very tough in Singapore but we had high hopes for the Japanese Grand Prix. To a certain extent we got there as we qualified well, ran towards the front of the field and raced with larger teams. However of course we missed out on points again so ultimately it was frustrating we could not capitalise on this. Based on this form I am however very optimistic we can make up ground in Brazil. Adrian and Tonio both know the track and the car is at its peak so I'm confident we should again be Q2 or higher and again racing for the points.”

Dominic Harlow, Force India's chief engineer
“Interlagos is the third anti-clockwise circuit in the calendar, and situated in the city of Sao Paulo around 800m above sea level. This altitude means a normal atmospheric pressure of around 930mb and so a loss of nearly 10 percent of a Formula One car’s aerodynamic and engine performance. The layout features a relatively tight infield section with gradients unsighting some of the corners, for example the double right Ferradura, combined with a long curved flat-out section uphill from Juncao, probably the most critical corner on the lap. It's quite testing mechanically as the circuit can be bumpy and the apex speeds low in places, but Sectors One and Three require a lower drag set-up between somewhere like Barcelona and Spa. It's always an exciting race with a football stadium atmosphere, and we're looking forward to another race where we believe the VJM02 should perform well.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams
2008 Qualifying - 18th, 2008 Race - 12th

“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, especially for our neck muscles. Last year wasn’t so great for us because of the rain at the start of the race which left us towards the rear of the field, so I really hope we go there and do well this time. I love Brazil. It’s such a vibrant country and Sao Paulo is cool. It’s normally the last race of the year so there are a few parties, but I imagine it will be different this year now it’s not the last race on the calendar. Either way, it’s a great place to have a race so I’m looking forward to it.”

Kazuki Nakajima, Williams
2008 Qualifying - 16th, 2008 Race - 17th

“Interlagos is a fairly challenging track because it’s so bumpy and goes in an anti-clockwise direction, but it’s really exciting to drive. There are some good overtaking opportunities, which is good because the grid will no doubt be tight because of the shorter lap time and it’s important to qualify well. We’ll have to do lots of work on Friday to find the right set-up and achieve a strong mechanical balance to cope with the track’s layout, but I’m looking forward to it. Brazil is very different to Japan so it’ll be a complete change going there next week! I like it though. The fans are always amazing; they’re really passionate about Formula One, so it’s nice to experience the atmosphere. On Wednesday I’m with AT&T, so hopefully I’ll get to experience some proper Brazilian culture with them before the weekend begins.”

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2008 Qualifying - 3rd, 2008 Race - 3rd

“Traditionally the Interlagos circuit has always been favourable to Ferrari and we really hope that this will be true this year, although we know that it will be difficult. The crucial point will be the aerodynamic downforce, but at the same time it’s important to have a stable car while braking. The last corner is very important, because it leads onto the long uphill straight leading to the main straight. The KERS should help us a lot there. There’s no doubt that this track is connected to the most wonderful memory of my career. Two years ago I won the drivers’ title here in Brazil, but I have done well many more times, gaining five podiums. Usually Brazil is the last race on the calendar, but this year we’ve one more, the one in Abu Dhabi. I really like the classic circuits like Spa and Suzuka. Maybe Interlagos is not as technical like the other two, but it’s very demanding nevertheless. We’re driving anti-clockwise, which is not very common and the weather conditions can change in a second. My goal is to gain a place on the podium, which might not be easy. Every race things are more and more difficult for us, because the other teams continue improving their cars, while we have been using the same car for a couple of months. We have to be perfect and benefit from the weak moments of our competitors. I’ll celebrate my 30th birthday on Saturday. A place on the podium would be a great present, but as I just said, our competitors will have to contribute to it somehow. We’ll try to keep the third position in the constructors’ standings.”

Fernando Alonso, Renault
2008 Qualifying - 6th, 2008 Race - 2nd

“Interlagos is a circuit that will always be very special to me because I won both my world titles with Renault there. It's one of the most enjoyable races of the year because the fans are so passionate about Formula One and there is an amazing atmosphere all weekend. The track surface is usually very bumpy so you need a car that can ride the bumps. As the circuit is anti-clockwise, it's more demanding for the drivers because there are several long left hand corners, which put high g-forces on your neck. To find the right set-up is not easy as there are quick corners, slow corners and a very long straight. The secret of a good lap-time is to have an efficient aero package and a car with good mechanical grip for the middle section of the lap.”

Romain Grosjean, Renault
2008 Qualifying - N/A, 2008 Race - N/A

“I'm really excited about racing in Brazil and I don't want the season to end. Interlagos is probably not the easiest circuit, but it's a famous track and driving there will be a great experience for me. There are two aspects to my preparation for Brazil. Firstly, because Interlagos is anti-clockwise, I have done lots of training, especially on my neck, to prepare for the physical demands of the track. Also, as I have never driven there before, I have been watching lots of videos to learn the circuit layout. I plan to arrive in Sao Paulo at the start of the week so I can walk the track and experience it for myself. My objectives are to continue learning about Formula One and to gain experience so that I can improve and be as close to Fernando as possible. Hopefully I can have a trouble-free race, the car will be competitive, and I can score some points for the team.”

Bob Bell, Renault team principal
“Interlagos is a demanding track for drivers as it's anti-clockwise which puts a lot of demands on them physically. In terms of the car, we will run with quite a lot of downforce and it's important to have a well-balanced car with good stability which gives the drivers confidence. We're also racing at altitude as the circuit is about 800 metres above sea level, which impacts on the power of the engine, so we will need to work on the mapping to optimise engine performance.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2008 Qualifying - 2nd, 2008 Race - 8th

"This season has flown by so quickly; it's hard to believe we are already at the penultimate race of the year! It's always enjoyable to be racing in Brazil, and particularly at Interlagos which is a tough circuit. The track is quite unusual because it is anti-clockwise, but also because half of it is extremely fast and the other half is very technical, so you need to compromise to find the right set-up. Toyota has usually been quite strong at Interlagos and I've generally been very quick there too so I'm hopeful that will be the case again this year. It was fantastic to be on the podium in the last race, especially in front of all our Japanese supporters, and I hope to be fighting at the front again this weekend. Last year I was on the front row in Brazil and I believe this year's car will also be quite well suited to the track so I am optimistic. I am determined to end the season as we started it; on a high note."

Kamui Kobayashi, Toyota
2008 Qualifying - N/A, 2008 Race - N/A

"This is an incredible opportunity for me to make my Grand Prix debut but of course it is a pity for Timo as I know how much he was looking forward to getting back to racing. Fortunately for me I had some time in the car on Friday in Suzuka and, even though that was in the wet, it will be very helpful for me this weekend. I have never driven at Interlagos before but I know the layout from computer games and television so I don't think it will take too long to learn. It's going to be a tough weekend but I feel ready for the challenge and I know the team is supporting me 100 percent. A few days ago I wasn't even expecting to be racing this weekend so it's impossible to set any targets. I just want to do myself proud and complete the race without any problems; anything after that is a bonus."

Pascal Vasselon, Toyota senior general manager chassis
"After the most recent work, Interlagos is now no bumpier than any other track so what we are left with is a very interesting lay-out which presents quite a challenge, with low, medium and high-speed corners as well as a long straight. This means you have to compromise in terms of downforce and drag level to get strong performance on the infield and give yourself a chance to pass at the end of the start-finish straight. We have always been quick in Brazil so we expect to be very competitive. In terms of aerodynamic efficiency Interlagos is close to the baseline configuration we run in the wind tunnel so our car is very well optimized to this kind of track. We go into the Brazilian Grand Prix after finishing on the podium in the last two races so we have high expectations and I am confident we will be strong."

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2008 Qualifying - 4th, 2008 Race - 5th

“I’m really looking forward to this year’s Brazilian Grand Prix - it will be the first time I’ve travelled to Sao Paulo without being in contention for the world championship, and I’m actually looking forward to taking in a bit more of the city and relaxing and enjoying the experience of driving on one of the world’s greatest racetracks. My highlights are Turn One, braking into the long left-hander which bends right and takes you out onto the back straight; Ferra Dura, which is a fast right-hander where you body is squeezed hard into the side of the car, and the main straight: you accelerate hard uphill and you can even hear the crowd and the Brazilian drums playing in the grandstands. One of the greatest things about racing at Interlagos is the crowd. There’s such a great atmosphere; the fans have so much energy and life. It’s a party while you’re working, and it’s great to see everyone happy.”

Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren
2008 Qualifying - 5th, 2008 Race - 7th

“The Interlagos circuit is quite a challenging one for the drivers because it’s anti-clockwise, which, after a season of racing on clockwise circuits, puts quite a strain on your neck muscles. But you quickly forget that once you get out on the circuit - it’s an incredible racetrack, really demanding - but very satisfying when you get a lap right. Interlagos hasn’t traditionally been a circuit where we have excelled, but we feel that we’ve resolved quite a few of the issues that affected us at this race last year, and using KERS Hybrid - particularly up that long hill out of the final corner - should be a considerable benefit both in qualifying and the race.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
“Nobody on our team will ever forget the dramatic final laps of the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix - they are memories that will live with us forever. Of course, the defining moments of the last two world championships have both taken place in Brazil and, as a result, the race has become an unusually colourful and intense occasion for us. Travelling to Sao Paulo this year with our focus solely on achieving the very best result will allow us to attack the race weekend without any additional considerations, and we are very much looking forward to that challenge.”

Norbert Haug, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President
“Lewis has been the most successful driver of the last two Grands Prix, which took place within the space of one week in Singapore and at the Japanese Suzuka circuit. During those eight days, McLaren scored more points than any other team, a trend that fortunately has continued for the last six Grands Prix since Lewis’s first 2009 victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix. We started the season and had to make do with a minimum of points, so it’s pleasing to see the upward trend we’ve had since our home grand prix at the Nurburgring in the middle of July. We try to continue this trend with Lewis’s two wins and two additional podium places in the last six races - a gain which hasn’t been achieved by any other driver in this period of time. In the last six races of the season’s second half, Lewis has beaten world champion candidate Jenson Button four times, Rubens Barrichello and our German friend Sebastian Vettel three times each, and each of the three title candidates has scored less points than Lewis, who managed 34 whereas Rubens scored 27, Sebastian 22 and, with 17 points, Jenson, who, at the top of the table, achieved only half of Lewis’s points. The world championship fight is open and electrifying - I know from my own experience what I am talking about when I say that with a 16-point deficit of Sebastian to Jenson, nothing has been decided yet. With regard to the constructors’ world championship, Brawn GP should have already done it with half a point still missing.”

Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
2008 Qualifying - 13th, 2008 Race - 11th

"Brazil was the season finale in the past years. With Abu Dhabi new on the calendar, the situation is different this year. The Interlagos track is very nice to drive. Especially Sector One with the first three corners is quite challenging. Turn 1 is blind and therefore it is difficult to find the ideal braking point there. The final sector goes up a huge hill and consists of a couple of left turns. In Brazil we drive anti-clockwise, which is physically quite tough as we are used to driving the other way round. If it rains in Interlagos, driving will be very tricky as there is lots of standing water on the track. So I'm hoping for good weather."

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2008 Qualifying - 8th, 2008 Race - 10th

"Interlagos is a fantastic and very challenging track. Because you drive it in an anti-clockwise direction, it puts a real strain on your neck muscles. The circuit used to be full of horrible bumps. Having it resurfaced before the 2007 Grand Prix made a huge difference, but by 2008 the track wasn't as good. I'll be interested to see what kind of condition it is in now. In the last two years we had some exciting championship deciders there, with the weather always ready to tip the scales. There could be a repeat in 2009, even though Brazil isn't the final race this time. I'm looking forward to seeing Felipe (Massa) in the paddock again."

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director
“It's the final spurt for the 2009 Formula One season. Brazil marks another traditional circuit on the calendar, whereas in the final race at Abu Dhabi we'll all be broaching new territory. While in 2008 BMW Sauber was still in contention for both world championship titles up to the penultimate race of the season, in 2009 it's a case of making the best of the situation and taking away as many points as we can. The results of the recent Grands Prix show that our development work is bearing fruit: we made it into the points in five consecutive races. Nevertheless, in Singapore and in Japan we fell short of our potential. Interlagos is about 800 metres above sea level. Due to the thinner air, all engines lose around eight per cent of their output. This makes the engine wear a little less as the loading on the crank assembly is slightly reduced. That will not only suit our team. Nick will keep running his ninth race engine which was fitted in Singapore, and Robert his eighth also from Singapore. Naturally we want to avoid fitting another new unit, which would mean being relegated ten places on the grid."

Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering
"Interlagos is one of very few circuits that are driven anti-clockwise. The key stretch is the middle sector, where it's just one turn after another. Plenty of downforce, good traction and good balance are crucial here. With the car's set-up you also have to allow for the fact that the air is thin because of the altitude and so the engines lose output. In the final sector particularly, with its steep uphill start/finish straight, high engine output is critical. Since the track was resurfaced, it has been a lot less bumpy than before. That makes the mechanical set-up of the cars somewhat easier. The weather can play a decisive role in Interlagos with the likelihood of rain at this time of year being pretty high. Heavy rainfall causes rivulets of water on the track, which leads to aquaplaning. After experiencing compromised race weekends in Singapore and Japan, in Brazil we will do everything we can to fully exploit the potential of our heavily modified car and achieve a correspondingly good result."