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Brazil preview quotes - Marussia, Sauber, Lotus, Williams & more

12 Nov 2015

The season's penultimate round sees the teams and drivers head south from Mexico to Sao Paulo's revamped Interlagos circuit. Those involved look ahead to the Formula 1 Grande Premio Petrobras do Brasil 2015...

Sauber

Marcus Ericsson

“It is exciting going to Brazil, as it will be my first time racing in Sao Paulo. I am looking forward to it for two reasons - on a personal level, and also because it is the home Grand Prix for Banco do Brasil, one of our Principal Partners. Of course, as a team we will do our very best with the objective being that Felipe and I will finish the race in the points. That would be a great achievement for everyone. From what I have seen on videos as well as on the data, traction is really important on this track. The first corner is also crucial, as you need to carry the speed when going onto the back straight. Therefore, it is important to have a well-balanced car.”

Felipe Nasr

“I am really looking forward to my first ever Formula One Grand Prix in Interlagos. I am sure there is going to be a lot of energy around the track from all the fans. It will be a very exciting weekend for me representing my home country in Formula One. Last year I drove in FP1 for Williams, which was a nice feeling. But racing in Formula One in front of my home crowd is a dream I have always had. Considering our motorsport history, it is not only a pleasure and honour, but also a moment to remember.”

Giampaolo Dall’Ara, head of Track Engineering

“The circuit at Interlagos offers a relatively high amount of challenges, considering the short lap distance. Trading the demand for speed on the two long straights with the stability and grip requirements of the infield will be challenging for both the drivers and engineers. Moreover, the ever changeable weather often adds to that challenge at this time of the year. The choice of medium and soft tyres is going to boost the show further, allowing some freedom with the strategies. Last, but not least, the atmosphere on race day makes the Brazilian Grand Prix a very special event.”

Lotus

Romain Grosjean

“Interlagos is 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. It’s a big challenge at every turn. There 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 stain 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!

“[The Brazilian fans] really love Formula One and Formula One really loves the Brazilian fans. You feel the passion when you arrive at the circuit and you see so many fans outside and around the track and city too. Of course, we know they all save their strongest support for their own Brazilian drivers but everyone in Formula One gets a strong welcome.”

Pastor Maldonado

“Interlagos may not have the most impressive infrastructure these days but it is a great, historic circuit. I really love the track, the atmosphere and the people. Brazilians have such a great Formula One heritage and for me it will be great to be at another event where there are a lot of Venezuelans in the crowds. Hopefully we can have a great race and put on another good show for the South American fans.

“Technically it’s always tricky to find a setup 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 rewards 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.

“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. One of the great aspects of racing at Interlagos is you can almost feel the vibe of the crowd as well as hear their enthusiasm, even when the rain is falling. Whatever the weather, we’ll be pushing for the best result possible.”

Nick Chester, technical director

“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 which is essentially a long uphill corner on to a very long straight. You rely on strong engine power and delivery for the straight. You need a nice stable car for the twisty mid-section where a driver wants a strong turn-in without much understeer, and you want strong traction on exit after a balanced mid-section. The compromise on how to run on downforce is 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. We normally don’t run on full downforce which is probably what we will do again this weekend.”

Williams

Valtteri Bottas

“I haven’t had the best races in Brazil in the past, but I’m looking forward to fixing that. It’s a very nice circuit to drive, it has a good combination of different types of corners, and it’s good for racing with good possibilities for overtaking. The fans are very passionate and obviously with Felipe being Brazilian there is a lot of support for Williams Martini Racing. Hopefully this time around I can have a good result. We will be looking to fight with Ferrari and Red Bull for an opportunity to be on the podium. That will be the target.”

Felipe Massa

“Your home Grand Prix is always the most important race for a driver. For me to race at home where I started my career - first on the other side of the wall at the kart track, then onto the race track - there is always a big expectation to perform in front of your home crowd. I love the track, it’s one of the best tracks for me and I’ve always had good results there. I’m really looking forward to hopefully achieving another amazing result this year. Last year we managed to finish on the podium. It was a race with so many things happening - I had a five-second penalty and even stopped in the wrong garage - but we still managed to have an amazing race so it’s important to look back on what we did last year to try to repeat it and have a very strong weekend once again. The passion from the fans is amazing. The emotion they have and how close they are to me as a driver, it’s really an amazing feeling to race at home. The experience is difficult to explain.”

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

“We head to Brazil after a good result for the team in Mexico. We are in good spirits, with our main target of securing third position in the constructors’ championship still firmly on track. It means we are going to be racing extremely hard to make that happen. Equally as important will be beating the cars that we have been racing against all season. Brazil should be a good circuit for our cars - it was certainly good for us last year with Felipe on the podium at his home race, and we will look to repeat that. The layout is power and drag sensitive so the efficiency should work in our favour. The hard part will be getting the car to perform well in sector two. We want to get a good result and find ourselves in a position to celebrate securing third position on Sunday evening.”

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, motorsport director

“Interlagos is one of those historic venues that has helped to shape the history of Formula One, so it’s a pleasure to come here and experience once more the unique atmosphere and passion from the local fans, at the end of what is our first American triple header in Formula One, with races in the United States, Mexico and now Brazil. South America and Brazil in particular is one of Pirelli’s biggest global markets, so this is a particularly important race for us, as we are so widely represented here. The changes to the asphalt at Interlagos last year altered the pattern of tyre behaviour, so it will be interesting to see how that affects tyre usage this year. Traditionally, Interlagos is quite a high-energy circuit for tyres, so we would expect to see two or three pit stops for the majority of competitors. As always though, we will only have an accurate picture of the real situation after the opening free practice sessions on Friday.”

McLaren

Fernando Alonso

“The last couple of races have been frustrating on my side of the garage, as we’ve had some bad luck with reliability issues. It’s something we’re always working hard on and we’ll be looking especially closely at in the lead up to the Brazilian Grand Prix, so we can make sure we get the most track time possible over the course of the weekend.

“We knew Mexico would be tough, and many of Interlagos’ characteristics are similar, with its steep sections and long straights. However, the circuit is incredible to drive and always a lot of fun, so I’m looking forward to the weekend. We are still seeing progress in our pace and small improvements in every area race by race, so we know it’s important to keep our heads down and keep pushing towards the end of the season. Every race counts and the more we can learn and gather data at every track, the more information we will have at our disposal over the winter and for the development of our package.

“After the incredible fan support we received in Mexico, I know we’ll receive another warm welcome in Brazil. The atmosphere is always fantastic and the Brazilian fans are just as passionate. It’s a very special place and we always see unpredictable racing there, so let’s hope we can have some fun this weekend.”

Jenson Button

“Interlagos has got to be up there with the all-time great circuits in Formula One. There’s so much history there, so many legends have raced on that circuit, and the fans are always so enthusiastic that you can’t help but love going back there each year.

“For me personally, the track is very special. It’s a tough circuit on the cars as it’s so bumpy, but really fun to drive with its off-camber sections and technical mix of corners. Although we found it tough in Mexico - especially with the altitude - our pace in the corners was positive, so I’m looking forward to seeing how our car performs in those areas in Brazil.

“The weather is usually unpredictable too, which has made for some chaotic races in the past. It’s great for the fans and always produces some really interesting results, so hopefully we can put ourselves in a position to take advantage if anything happens. Unlike the last couple of races, I hope we can get some solid dry running done initially so that we can really focus on set-up and reliability, and get as much time on track as possible from Friday onwards - then we’ll see what we can do from there.”

Eric Boullier, racing director, McLaren-Honda

“After the drama of Austin and spectacle of Mexico, it’s great to move to another hugely popular circuit in the Americas, and a track that holds great memories for the McLaren-Honda team. We’ve enjoyed numerous nail-biting finishes, stunning victories and tense championship battles there, and Interlagos is a venue universally loved by the whole Formula One community.

“Over its incredible 78-year history, its charm is as strong as ever, and the fans are just as animated. Interlagos has an incredible heritage and it’s great to see its legacy continue. It’s a fantastic driver’s track with lots of uniquely challenging features that the drivers love, and the fans love to watch. Although no longer the season finale, there’s always a great sense of anticipation before every Brazilian Grand Prix, and this year is no different.

“For McLaren-Honda, after a challenging couple of races, we are looking forward to arriving at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace and pushing hard with our development for the next two Grands Prix. Although the end of the season is in sight, we are still working flat-out to bring new parts to the car and maximise our learning and development until the last possible moment. We are focussing on both reliability and performance, and hope for a more positive weekend at this legendary circuit.”

Yasuhisa Arai, Honda R&D senior managing officer - chief officer of motorsport

“Following on from the Mexican Grand Prix, Brazil will be another atmospheric race weekend for fans of Formula One.

“Interlagos is a mixture of fast flowing corners, with a technical slow section and multiple undulating turns. The tightness of the layout will hopefully make for an exciting race, with close competition and overtaking.

“The car and the power unit will both be busy there, changing direction and speed with every turn, which makes throttle response and car balance important.

“We predict that the altitude of the circuit, albeit not as high as Mexico City, will slightly affect the performance of the car, so we will fine-tune the driveability and deployment of the power unit accordingly."

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton

"Interlagos is one of the real classics - quite short, tough on tyres, with variable weather and a really tricky start to the lap that always seems to bring drama. Then there's the fans. The Brazilian people are so passionate, fun and outgoing. It's a vibrant country, full of colour, and somewhere that's quite special to me. This was the home race for Ayrton, so it was a dream of mine to race in São Paulo when I was younger and I always feel his presence when I'm there. He was such a huge hero in Brazil and it's humbling that I always get such a warm response there. It's amazing to think that it took Ayrton eight attempts to win this race and it's one of the few I haven't yet won myself. If I can change that this weekend it would be a salute to him and another highlight to add to this amazing year, so I'll be going all out to make that happen."

Nico Rosberg

"I'm really pumped to get to São Paulo and get back out on track after a great weekend in Mexico. For a start, Interlagos is one of the classic races on the calendar. It's a tricky circuit that's a really good challenge for a driver, with plenty of overtaking opportunities and crazy weather that always makes for an action-packed race. I have good memories from Brazil, too. I've usually been pretty quick there and last year was a good battle with Lewis, when I came out on top. Standing on the top step after a hard-earned win, following in the footsteps of so many great drivers who have won there and with the passionate Brazilian crowd cheering on - that was a great feeling. I'd love to experience that again, so the aim is to put on another good show for the fans and to carry my form from Mexico into this race. It's always a great feeling to head into a weekend on the back of a win, so I'm confident of a strong performance."

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"We came away from Mexico with many positives. On track, our boys delivered strong drives to claim an emphatic one-two for the team. In the garage and on the pit wall, the crew were faultless - fast pit stops, a good race strategy and two cars which performed well at a new venue with unique challenges. And for the sport, we saw a fantastic event which brought Formula One back to Mexico in style. We now have two races remaining to watch an intense and entertaining battle continue. The rivalry like we have between Lewis and Nico is great for the sport, great for the team and great for the drivers themselves. They are pushing each other harder and harder, pushing the team forward with them and providing a fascinating story. Of course, they are never without pressure from rivals further afield. Ferrari had a bad weekend in Mexico but they will no doubt be a threat in Brazil - as will Williams after another podium finish last time out. This is a race which often brings surprises and never fails to entertain. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what's in store for us at Interlagos."

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

"Interlagos is another historic circuit with some great features - most notably the long climb through the final corner, across the start / finish straight and back down into the first corner. The weather can be quite unpredictable in São Paulo too - often leading to dramatic and spectacular races. Furthermore, the tyres were right on the edge at this circuit last year, so if it does remain dry this may be another issue to contend with across the weekend. However, while the high-altitude location of the circuit has been a talking point in the past, this is insignificant compared to what we experienced at the last race. Likewise, it will be difficult to match the atmosphere in Mexico City which was absolutely fantastic. But the Brazilian crowd has traditionally been one of the most enthusiastic of the year, so I'm sure they'll be up for the challenge! So, we look forward to another exciting and entertaining weekend in São Paulo. This was, of course, where Lewis clinched his first World Championship title - but surprisingly he has never won at Interlagos. We saw a fascinating duel between our two drivers there last year, with Nico emerging on top after a fantastic drive. So hopefully we'll be treated to another good battle at the penultimate race of this season."

Force India

Sergio Perez

"Racing in my home Grand Prix last week was a dream come true. The support from the fans was incredible and I have so many memories that will stay with me forever. I was happy with my performance over the weekend and I think it was one of my best races of the season. You can always look back and say, ‘what if the safety car hadn't come out', but we made the best of it and I was happy to score points in my home race.

"Brazil is another venue where you can feel the energy of the fans. The track is brilliant: it's a proper racer's circuit with some amazing corners. The first sector is fantastic: you can take different lines through turn one and you can end up in a battle for position that lasts until turn six. The lap is very technical and there are a lot of places where you can easily make a mistake, but the feeling when you get a perfect lap together is amazing.

"In the last few races we've had a really good run of results. I feel I'm driving at my best and the team is doing a fantastic job. We want to finish this season on a high and I think we still have some big results in us, so I am confident ahead of the race."

Nico Hulkenberg

"I really love Brazil as a country and Sao Paulo as a city. The track is very traditional and there is always a special atmosphere around the place. There are some fun corners - the Senna Esses are really cool as turns one, two and three make up a nice combination. The lap is quite short but there are a lot of elevation changes and banked corners, which create a very challenging lap. It's a track where I really enjoy driving.

"Interlagos has been quite good to me: I had a pole position in 2010, led the race in 2012 and I've always finished in the points. I seem to have good chemistry there and I feel comfortable on and off the track. I can really identify with the Brazilian lifestyle and the people. I think we will be competitive so I hope I can add another strong result to the list."

Vijay Mallya, team principal

"We travel to Brazil off the back of a memorable and successful weekend in Mexico. Everybody I spoke to said how much they enjoyed the event and the warm welcome we received. It was a race where we maximised our opportunities to bring both cars home well inside the points and edge closer to securing fifth place in the championship.

"The Brazilian Grand Prix is another great event. It's an historic venue where the fans always create a special atmosphere – much like Mexico. The Interlagos circuit always seems to deliver an exciting race because it's an old school track with several good overtaking opportunities. The weather is also unpredictable and that often adds to the drama.

"With just two races to go, we must keep our focus and make sure we don't let our guard down so close to the finish line. If we score well in Brazil, we can clinch fifth place in the championship and that's the priority. I'm confident we can do it and getting both cars home in the points would be a great way to celebrate our best season ever."

Red Bull

Daniil Kvyat

“It’s one of F1’s classic tracks and the atmosphere is always great. I think they have done some rebuilding there and I’m looking forward to seeing how the paddock has changed. It was the smallest of the year and kind of difficult for teams to work in and it will be good to see what has been done.
“But whatever they have done I don’t think it will change the atmosphere. It’s always amazing, with the fans so close to the track. They really have a big passion for Formula One and the feeling is always good on the grid there - even though it’s a bit crazy!

“It’s a good circuit and like I said it’s one of the classics. It’s got good changes of elevation, it’s quite a quick, short lap and there are some good overtaking spots. It’s nice to drive; it has a good flow to it with some good high-speed corners, which is what drivers always enjoy.

“It has some great memories for me, because I did my second free practice in F1 there in 2013 with Toro Rosso. It was wet but I really enjoyed it and I finished I think eighth or ninth. Last year’s race wasn’t great. I had a grid penalty and started 17th but I managed to finish 11th.

“The city is enormous. It’s hard to get a good feel for it really because it’s so big but the food there is really good and it has got some really nice restaurants, if you know where to go. Also the girls are really pretty!”

Daniel Ricciardo

“I don’t think I’ve ever done one [perfect lap of Interlagos], so I’ve got no secrets! What I have learned is that you shouldn’t think ahead too much. You have to take it corner-by-corner and concentrate on the one you’re in. There’s not many that you string together. There’s not many corners full stop.

“Brazil’s a wonderful Grand Prix with a great atmosphere in an exciting city but the track doesn’t really do it for me. There’s just not a corner that gives you any real satisfaction. I don’t want to make it sound dull, because it isn’t, but like Russia, there isn’t a corner that makes you go ‘Woooo-Hoooo!’ It needs a few more corners and something really high speed. There’s a couple that look good on paper but because of the cambers, you never really have the grip to go barrelling in. The crowd really gets your heart-rate up before the sessions, so you want to be really on it but instead have to be very patient.

“The start-finish straight is very narrow, so if your grid slot is on the outside, you’re about two metres away from the grandstand. You better hope they [the crowd] like you because if not you’re a pretty easy target when you’re pulling your helmet on! It’s a good time though. Lots of noise, lots of airhorns, trumpets, drums. Like Mexico, it’s the crowd you want for a Grand Prix. Brazilians are cool.”

Marussia

Will Stevens

“The race in Mexico was a very exciting one between me and Alex. In the end, it didn’t deliver the position I held for much of the race, but I felt like I was back to where I was, after a few slightly more challenging rounds on my side of the garage. A stronger weekend there has really fired me up to end the season on a high note, so I’m feeling very optimistic about the next two races, in Brazil and Abu Dhabi. Obviously Abu Dhabi I’ve raced at before, but Brazil is another new circuit for me, and one I’ve always been excited about racing at. What’s great is that it’s a new experience for me personally, but an old classic with a lot of heritage and obviously forever tied to the legacy of one of my own inspirations, Ayrton Senna. It’s also a very challenging circuit, which are my favourites, as it’s another opportunity for a driver to show their skill in arriving at a good compromise set-up to cope with the different circuit characteristics. I’m looking forward to it.”

Alexander Rossi

“Brazil is my final race of 2015 for the team and I really hope it will be as positive as the past four have been for me. I’m very satisfied with my performances thus far, so we will need to keep the momentum going to end on a really strong note. This is a track that I’ve raced and won on in the past, so I will be looking forward to hitting the ground running on Friday. The weather looks like it will be a variable again, as is so often the case with this circuit, but I have grown to be quite comfortable with the car in all conditions, especially after the past two race weekends. I can’t wait to get out there on Friday and resume the on-track battle with Will for one final time this year.”

John Booth, Team Principal

“First of all, it’s great to be back in Brazil. Obviously, last year, we missed out on this and two other races. As one of the more traditional circuits, and with one of the most passionate crowds, it was sorely missed. Secondly, congratulations to the Autódromo José Carlos Pace on delivering the much-improved Paddock facilities. The old ones had a certain charm, but the new environment is much more conducive to our race team operation and also looking after our guests. As we embark on the penultimate round of the 2015 season, it becomes clear just how much we have achieved as a Team, since we hastily regrouped at the start of the year. As a result, the races have flown by and it feels like there has hardly been time to draw breath. We want to ensure we end the season on a high note, so with the motivation of a fantastic battle between Alexander and Will in Mexico and yet another two-car finish - those cars just keep going round, don’t they? - we will keep pushing hard during the next two events. This track provides a good few challenges for the engineers and drivers; there is the consideration of the altitude - which has implications for both engine and aero - the typically mixed weather forecast, and arriving at the right compromise set-up. It is a race that always keeps a team on its toes, right up until the final lap.”