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Brazil preview quotes - Toro Rosso, Mercedes, Force India & more

06 Nov 2014

The penultimate round of the season sees the F1 teams journey to South America and one of the oldest and best-loved venues on the calendar, the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in Sao Paulo. Sebastian Vettel led a Red Bull one-two here last year, but who will triumph this time round? Those involved in the Formula 1 Grande Premio Petrobras do Brasil 2014 discuss their prospects…

McLaren

Jenson Button

2013 Qualifying - 15th, 2013 Race - 4th

“I love going back to Interlagos, it’s one of my favourite circuits and one where I have a lot of happy memories - I clinched the championship there in 2009. It’s a really fantastic track and up there with the best circuits in the world. When you walk through the gates you can really sense the history and the excitement from the fans - it’s very special.

“It’s a tricky circuit to get right but that makes it all the more exciting; there’s more opportunities to overtake there than at other tracks, and the twisty infield section towards the end of the lap is a real challenge as you’re constantly on the limit trying not to outbrake yourself, so when you get it spot on it’s really rewarding. I last won there in 2012, and although our results since then haven’t lived up to our own expectations, it’s clear that we are steadily improving our package and our aim, of course, is to build on that this weekend.

“The altitude there and elevation changes make the track really unique, so getting set-up and the balance right from the get-go will be key, especially to adapt to the bumpy surface. Austin proved a more difficult race for us than we had hoped, but I’m focused on achieving the best result we can in Brazil and getting the most out of this great circuit.”

Kevin Magnussen

2013 Qualifying - n/a, 2013 Race - n/a

“It’s great to go to Brazil for the first time. Although I’ve never raced there before, I know a lot about the circuit and it’s one of those legendary places that’s so ingrained in Formula One history. So many of my idols have raced at Interlagos and it’s one of the circuits I’ve always wanted to drive on myself, so I’m really looking forward to getting out there.

“The fact that the Grand Prix is only a week after the last race in Austin is a positive, as we’ll be pushing to maintain the momentum from last weekend and continuously build on our race performances, as we have been over the second half of the season. Interlagos, like Austin, is one of only a few circuits that run anti-clockwise, so it’s cool that these two races are back to back.

“From the first corner onwards, Interlagos is a really exciting circuit and there are quite a few overtaking opportunities, especially in the first sector. It’s a real driver’s track and pretty bumpy all the way round, so set-up will be crucial to getting the most out of a lap. The South American fans love their Formula One too, so I’m excited about getting there and sampling the atmosphere. It’s important that we build on the experience we gained in Austin - it was a tough weekend, but Brazil is another race and we’ll give everything we have to come away with a decent result for the team.”

Eric Boullier, McLaren racing director

“Interlagos is a very special place for McLaren. It’s a really spectacular venue with such a rich heritage, and it’s a privilege for Formula One to still be going there to race after so many years. The circuit is legendary and one that produces some fantastic racing, and the Brazilian fans are among the most passionate in the world. The configuration of the track is a real challenge for the drivers and it’s provided some incredible moments in racing history that are etched on the mind of Formula One fans around the world, not to mention the fact that it’s the home country of so many icons of the sport - including some well-known former McLaren drivers!

“McLaren’s most recent victory came in Brazil in 2012, and although it’s disappointing that the team hasn’t won a Grand Prix since then, the progress we have been making offers some encouragement for the future. With only two races left before the end of the season, we are striving to make the most of the remaining time on track to continue our development into next year and get the maximum performance out of our car.

“Austin was a tricky race for us, but we learned a lot from the behaviour of our car, so we must regroup and go to Interlagos with renewed motivation. Brazil is the last race of the season to be run under the standard points system, so we will be pushing to secure a solid points finish in order to put us in the best possible position for Abu Dhabi. Every point is crucial in order to boost our place in the Constructors’ standings, so our focus is on maximising everything we have to increase our tally on Sunday afternoon.”

Sauber

Esteban Gutierrez

2013 Qualifying - 18th, 2013 Race - 12th

“Interlagos is a track I always associate with Ayrton Senna. There is a lot of history behind it, and you feel the great vibes around the event. The weather is pretty special as it changes a lot, which makes it exciting. Previously, it has been the last race of the season, but this year the final round will take place in Abu Dhabi. Last year it was the first time I got to know Interlagos, and I enjoyed driving on this track. In comparison to other circuits, this is a short track; it has one very long straight, which means that engine power will be important. For the quick corners 6 and 7, which go uphill, it is crucial to have a good balance for the car. Especially in wet conditions, the track is fun to drive, and you can also go over the kerbs. It is a nice old style circuit.”

Adrian Sutil

2013 Qualifying - 16th, 2013 Race - 13th

“Interlagos is a nice track in South Amercia where my father’s roots are. It is an event which I view very warmly. Mostly the races are spectacular, which often comes from the unpredictable weather. The track is short, but packs a punch with many bumps. It is not easy to drive. It is always a great race weekend, and I am looking forward to it. I think we can hope for points there, however, it will not be easy.”

Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Sauber head of track engineering

“The track and the atmosphere at Interlagos are fascinating. Getting the right balance for the car through the infield is a real challenge, given the speed requirements of the remainder of the circuit. A versatile and efficient car and strong driving skills can make a difference. On top of that, the weather is usually changeable. We will again be provided with the medium and the soft tyres, which are expected to suit the race well.”

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director

“Brazil is one of the biggest markets in the world for Pirelli, so it’s a pleasure to be there among our friends and supporters. The lap takes a lot out of the tyres due to the almost non-stop succession of corners, a number of which are high-speed. So getting the most out of the tyres and the strategy is clearly going to be of vital importance in the race. We’ve seen a number of wet races in the past at Interlagos, which seems to be a strong possibility this year as well. All of this adds to the reputation of the Brazilian Grand Prix for hosting dramatic races where nobody knows what to expect, so it’s likely that we can look forward to another exciting weekend in front of a crowd that is truly passionate about Formula One.”

Lotus

Romain Grosjean

2013 Qualifying - 6th, 2013 Race - DNF

“I can’t wait to go to Brazil because every year we have a fantastic team dinner at a churrascaria where the team who travels around all year can let their hair down a little and share some laughs. It’s been a really tough season - the toughest ever for me and many of the team - so it will be good to enjoy a drink together well before the preparations for the race weekend are underway. I will be raising a caipirinha to everyone in the team in Sao Paulo, then another to everyone back in Enstone too!

”It’s a fantastic track and there’s no part of it that isn’t great. It really suits my driving style so I’m really looking forward to it. Certainly, the E22 is getting more enjoyable to drive and the soft and medium Pirelli tyres - particularly the softs - seemed to work well for us in Texas so there’s good potential.

“It’s a fantastic challenge of a track which never seems to have a part where you relax. Even the main start-finish ‘straight’ isn’t boring as it starts uphill with some interesting camber, then gradually turns before finishing at the downhill turn one, where it’s so easy to out-brake yourself. If I had to pick favourite parts of Interlagos, I would say the first and last corners; the first corner is really technical and punishes you if you get it wrong, and the last corner is so fast and really puts quite a strain on your body. As a driver I really enjoy these corners. It’s an old style track, so very hard to pick out a single element; I’d say everything is pretty good in Interlagos; I love it!”

Pastor Maldonado

2013 Qualifying - 17th, 2013 Race - 16th

“Interlagos may not have the most impressive infrastructure but it is a great, historic circuit. I really love the track, the atmosphere and the people - there will be a lot of Venezuelans there! Hopefully we can have a great race and put on a good show for the South American fans.

“Technically it’s always tricky to find a set-up balance between the twisty parts of the circuit and the long straights. In an ideal world you’d want Monza-spec for the start and end of the lap and Hungaroring-spec for the rest! Different drivers and teams will make different compromises, which all adds up to an interesting race. Some will go for greater straight-line speed to help them pass and defend in the race, others more downforce for a better lap time and less sliding. Bumps can also be an issue and there are several overtaking opportunities on the track which reward late braking, both to go on the attack and keep rivals behind. Last but not least the unpredictable weather is sure to keep us on our toes. There has also been some resurfacing at the track so we’ll have the challenge we are faced with any new surface of understanding the grip levels and how they change over the course of the weekend.

“The tyre allocation will be the same [as Austin] and I would say that Interlagos is a similar kind of track in terms of its characteristics. The temperature could also be similar, which would be another positive factor too. When we get the tyres working and don’t have low speed corners at a circuit we’re capable of pretty decent performance. We’ve seen some epic races in Interlagos where wet weather has been a factor, and thunderstorms are present. We all know the amount of rain which can fall in Sao Paulo and the Interlagos track even has grooves cut into it to help the water flow off the track! It’s a challenging circuit in the dry and even more so in the wet, but there have been some amazing races over the years because of this. Whatever the weather, we’ll be pushing for the best result possible.”

Federico Gastaldi, Lotus deputy team principal

“Interlagos is always a pleasure because the passion of racing runs through the whole place. The close proximity of the city and all the fans makes it a very unique atmosphere. I think there is a really special vibe around the Brazilian Grand Prix. The Latin spirit is apparent everywhere at Interlagos. It’s traditional in the sense that there is natural undulation and a great variety of corners. From the team sense we are always welcomed very warmly here. As a proud South American it gives me a lot of pleasure to showcase our great team to some of the best fans in the world.

“Pastor is looking forward to it because he gets a lot of support for this race. I am sure that he will take the recent positive momentum he has gathered to please these fans in Brazil. It is certainly the type of circuit that Pastor likes to attack and extract the maximum from especially after the positive of points in Austin.”

Nick Chester, Lotus technical director

“The first and second sectors should be okay for us however the third sector, with one corner followed by a climb up hill and on to the straight, will be more challenging. Overall, I don’t think that it will suit us as well as Austin but we won’t know for sure until we’re there and we have some laps under our belt. We have found a bit more in the car but Interlagos might be trickier for us than it has been in the United States. The high altitude might have an impact on the power unit’s performance, although this will be different than in previous years due to the changed aspiration of the engine.

“It is a tricky circuit to find the right set-up. The middle sector is very twisty with a lot of low speed turns and then the final sector is essentially one corner on to a very long straight. The compromise on how to run on downforce is therefore quite challenging. You want to take downforce off for the last sector but then want it on for the other sectors. We tend to rely on where the simulation suggests will be the best compromise and then adapt through the weekend dependent on our speed and sector performance.”

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel

2013 Qualifying - 1st, 2013 Race - 1st

“In Sao Paulo I have taken part in races which we will always remember, for different reasons. Like in 2009, when we almost took the title in the last race of the season. In the end it wasn’t enough and Jenson Button became world champion. I was very disappointed, but it was also an important experience for me. On the positive side we knew that we fought until the end and gave everything we could. 2010 was my first year on the Sao Paulo podium: a truly unforgettable race and thinking about Brazil 2012, I spun on the first lap and found myself at the back of the field. Suddenly the title seemed so far away. I worked myself back up through the field position by position and at the end it was unbelievable: we were World Champions again. In 2013, the title was already secured, but as it was my ninth win in a row, I will always remember this race. In Sao Paulo we drive anti-clockwise and the track has severe bumps. One of the best chances to overtake is the first chicane, the Senna-S. You have to be careful here, especially at the start as it’s very tight. The left-right-left combination looks a bit like a screwdriver and you are going downhill, so you have to be patient with the steering.”

Daniel Ricciardo

2013 Qualifying - 7th, 2013 Race - 10th

“I know fans love Interlagos because it provides such interesting races, but it’s never been a favourite track of mine. It’s a short lap and ideally I like something with a few more corners. But it’s got a brilliant atmosphere and if you don’t enjoy that, you’re doing something wrong. I can’t honestly say what the secret is to getting a good lap at Interlagos because I’m not sure I’ve ever really nailed it! I’ve been OK but it hasn’t yet given up its secrets. I think the best approach is to not look beyond the next corner. It pays to be ultra-precise with your track positioning and your braking: you have to concentrate on the turn that you’re in, rather than thinking too far ahead because for most of the lap the corners are individual events rather than part of a sequence. Obviously the time of year we go to Brazil and the location means that there’s a really good chance of a wet race. At some venues that’s a real game-changer but at Interlagos the character of the track doesn’t change in the wet - it poses all the same challenges but with a few added variables thrown in.”

Williams

Felipe Massa

2013 Qualifying - 9th, 2013 Race - 7th

"The track is great, although it's very small it's also very technical. Corner one and two are very difficult especially as the gradient changes so there is a specific way to drive this sector. With two straights and a very slow section from corner seven to 11 it is important to have a well-balanced car and not focus on just one of those elements. To drive at my home Grand Prix is always special and to see the fans supporting me is a great motivation."

Valtteri Bottas

2013 Qualifying - 13th, 2013 Race - DNF

"There are some changes to the track for this year, they have resurfaced it and also the pit entry and exit are going to be a bit different than before. It's a great track with a big change in elevation. From the main straight to the second sector the track drops a lot, and then you have a big climb up hill in the last sector. Setting up the car is not easy because of the long corners. Good balance is important but also a good straight line speed, so I think we can be competitive here. The fans are really passionate here and the atmosphere is great, so with it being Felipe's home Grand Prix I'm sure there will be a lot of Williams supporters around."

Rob Smedley, Williams head of vehicle performance

"The Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace is a slightly lower speed circuit than the previous two Grands Prix, and it is a slightly shorter circuit. You need a really good front end in the middle sector, but good traction from the corners. Getting the most out of the tyres is important in Brazil and the new asphalt will play a part in this. This may have changed the dynamics of the track, but we hope to have both cars in the points again at the end of the race."

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg

2013 Qualifying - 10th, 2013 Race - 8th

"Brazil is always a highlight of my season and it's one of the events I enjoy the most. If you look at my record at Interlagos it's a circuit where I have always performed well. I enjoy the country, the atmosphere, the Brazilian lifestyle and all that surrounds the event seems to have given me a special boost in the past and hopefully it will happen again. Obviously this is a new year and we will need to prepare for this event well: Interlagos can always throw a surprise with the conditions and this could be a challenge for which we need to be ready.

"The track itself is a proper old-school circuit: you don't have the vast expanses of more modern tracks, everything is bunched up together - it feels almost like a karting track. It's a very cool layout with some iconic corners, and it has a lot of Formula One history."

Sergio Perez

2013 Qualifying - 14th, 2013 Race - 6th

"Interlagos is a great track and makes for a very enjoyable weekend. The circuit is very rewarding to drive in an F1 car - you can attack in almost every corner and it requires absolute commitment. There are quite a few overtaking points and I have had some special battles there in the past. You have some very fast corners and a very complex middle sector: there are changes of elevation, cambers and it's very twisty, it's very difficult but it gives you such a great feeling when you get it right.

 

"Brazil is a great country to race in - the public has a real passion for Formula One and this creates a great atmosphere. The country has created so many big names in our sport, none more so than Senna: he was fully devoted to racing and was a unique driver and man. You can see his spirit lives on at this track and this is reflected in all the fans in the grandstands. The other thing I always remember about Interlagos is the traffic - it can be a bit of an adventure to get from the hotel to the circuit but it's all part of the experience!"

Daniel Juncadella

"I'm very happy to be given another chance to drive the car this weekend in Brazil. I feel confident after my outings in Silverstone and Italy and I look forward to continue gaining more experience with the team. The Brazilian track brings back good memories, as I achieved two podium finishes back in 2008 when I raced here at the final two races of the Formula BMW American season, but I can't wait to go back and see what it's like to drive it in an F1 car! The fact that I know the track and that I'm not new to the team anymore will definitely be two positive elements that will allow me to focus on my driving and on doing the best job possible for the team straight away. After finishing my DTM season much stronger than we started it, I now look forward to my third FP1 outing and I'd like to thank Sahara Force India for this opportunity."

Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal

"The bad luck we experienced in Austin is part of the game and I'm pleased to say it's very unusual to see our two cars fail to take the chequered flag. Our consistency and reliability have been strong for the most part of the year and we simply have to take a weekend such as Austin on the chin. Our battle for fifth in the championship is now a bit more complicated, but it's not yet out of reach. It's a shame that Checo will have a grid penalty in Brazil, but Interlagos is a track that lends itself to overtaking so hopefully he can recover some of the lost ground. The last time Nico Hulkenberg raced for us in Brazil, he almost won the race! It remains one of the most memorable moments in the team's history, but it's also a painful memory because we came so close to our first victory. It's a track that both Nico and Sergio love and perhaps we can expect some more magic moments this year, especially if we get some of Sao Paulo's famous unsettled weather."

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton

2013 Qualifying - 5th, 2013 Race - 9th

“Winning in the States was just an incredible feeling. I love spending time there and it's fantastic to see how much the sport is growing. I was just blown away by the support I had all weekend, which made the win even more special. Once I got ahead in the race there was no looking back and I still can't quite believe the run we've had recently. The team are doing an incredible job. Next up, of course, we have Brazil - which is another very, very special place for me. In 2008 I needed to finish fifth or better to take the title and, until the very last corner of the last lap, I was running sixth. I passed Timo (Glock) down the inside and, as I crossed the line, I didn't know if I'd done it or not. I honestly though I'd lost it until quite a while after the flag, when the team came over the radio to tell me I'd won the World Championship. That was an incredible emotional rollercoaster and a moment that will stay with me for my entire life. My record at Interlagos hasn't actually been the best so far in terms of results, though, with only one podium all the way back in 2009. I'm hoping this weekend will be the one to change that.”

Nico Rosberg

2013 Qualifying - 2nd, 2013 Race - 5th

“The weekend in Austin was a tough one for me. Qualifying was obviously fantastic but I was disappointed to let the lead slip away in the race and to lose more points in the fight for the Drivers' Championship. In the end, Lewis just did a better job on the day and now it's up to me to make the most of these last two races and capitalise on any opportunity. It will be tough, but I'm going to give it absolutely everything I've got right up to the flag in Abu Dhabi. That first opportunity comes this weekend at the Brazilian Grand Prix - one of the classic races on the calendar. There is so much history there and, of course, there have been many great Brazilian drivers in Formula One. I've got a mixed record at this circuit but it's one I really enjoy as it's usually a really action-packed race. It would be great to give my title challenge a final boost with a good result before we head to the showdown in Abu Dhabi.”

Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“What a weekend we had in America - fantastic support from the crowds, a great spectacle on the track and another top result for the Silver Arrows in a key market for Mercedes-Benz. As a child, I remember the dominant season of McLaren in 1988 - winning race after race throughout the year - so it makes me extremely proud for the team that we have now equalled that record for one-two finishes with the result in Austin. Both drivers performed superbly and it was fascinating to see how evenly matched they still are as we approach the end of a long, tough season. It is hugely satisfying to know that now only a Mercedes driver can win the Drivers' Championship. Although this has appeared likely for some time, you can never rest easily until it is a mathematical certainty. Of course, that's not to say that there will be any rest between now and the end of the season as the double-points race in Abu Dhabi still has the potential to overshadow a great season should reliability become a factor. Our focus is still 100 percent on ensuring that is not the case.”

Paddy Lowe, Mercedes team executive director (technical)

“Another great result in Austin and a fantastic achievement to have matched the record for one-two finishes in a single season. America is an important market for Formula One and it was great to see such tremendous support for the race throughout our weekend in Texas. People came from all across the States and created a real carnival atmosphere around the city, which was encouraging to see in a country where there are so many alternatives on offer sports-wise. On track it wasn't an entirely straightforward weekend, with various problems to deal with throughout the practice sessions. When it came down to it, though, the cars delivered strong performance so all credit to the team for their hard work. The drivers were also in very strong form - competing very evenly and separated by the smallest of margins throughout the race, which was exciting to watch. It's clear that both are in great shape and enjoying the competition in a healthy way. Looking ahead to Brazil, the majority of the track has been resurfaced which will remain a point of great interest throughout the weekend in terms of how the tyres perform. It's a tricky circuit at the best of times, with high altitude, significant elevation changes and a high frequency of wet conditions. Already, the weather is forecast to include thunder storms on all three running days! It's sure to be an exciting weekend and a good prelude to the title showdown in Abu Dhabi.”

Toro Rosso

Jean-Eric Vergne

2013 Qualifying - 8th, 2013 Race - 15th

“The Interlagos circuit is atypical and it’s really neat. The old-style paddock is certainly unique and it has some character! What is cool about this Grand Prix is at this time of year, it can often rain in Brazil, usually just as the cars are on the starting grid! That makes for races that are very exciting in which anything can happen, right up to the chequered flag. The track has been completely resurfaced apparently, but we will need to see if that means there are less bumps. Usually, the bumps and the general layout mean it’s quite a tiring track to drive. Like Austin, it’s another anti-clockwise track, but the comparative lack of downforce with the current cars means it doesn’t put a particular strain on your neck. I really like Brazil the country, the atmosphere and I reckon it’s one of my favourite races of the year.”

Daniil Kvyat

2013 Qualifying - n/a, 2013 Race - n/a

“This is another track where I drove in FP1 last year and I enjoyed the experience. It was a wet session and I ended up in the top ten, which was very good for me at that time. It was my first time in Brazil and I liked the country a lot. So I am looking forward to taking part in the complete race weekend this time and experiencing the circuit in the dry maybe. It’s a very short lap of course, so there is no time to pause for breath. I’ve heard they’ve resurfaced the track, but as I only drove it in the wet, I can’t really say what difference that might make. There is a really good atmosphere at this circuit, with the crowd being very enthusiastic.”

Max Verstappen

“I’ve done two Friday FP1 sessions now and I’m gaining confidence with every lap. I always have to remember that I’m driving Jev’s car, so I never push to the maximum, as I need to be sure I have a car to give back to him at the end of the session! I would say the area where I still have the most to learn is the tyres and I had not realised how tricky that element would be. I have driven the Brazilian track for a few laps in the simulator and it looks very interesting. They say there’s always a chance of rain at this time of year in Sao Paolo and honestly, I would be quite happy if it rained on Friday morning, as I have never driven this car in the wet and it would be a useful experience.”