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Brazil preview quotes - Manor, Sauber, McLaren, Williams & more

10 Nov 2016

The Formula One paddock's journey south continues as the teams and drivers move from Mexico City to Sao Paulo for the Formula 1 Grande Premio do Brasil 2016. Those involved look ahead to this weekend's action...

Manor

Pascal Wehrlein

“I think this is the perfect venue for this point in the season - a technically interesting track that has a lot of challenges for team and driver, and one where exciting racing is pretty much guaranteed. It’s a race that can create a few surprises - which means opportunities - so we need to be right there to take advantage of them.”

Esteban Gutierrez

“The first thing for me is to make sure we have managed to dial-out the problem we had in Mexico, as it affected my whole weekend. I’m really hoping we can start from our usual good baseline again and I can focus on building my performance through the weekend. A more representative progression and hopefully a more representative result to go with it. Plus, we have a big job to do for the team in the next two races, so we need to keep pushing and find more performance to help us keep up the fight with Sauber.

“On-track, I’ve watched some fantastic racing here over the years and in particular the weather has played a big hand in that. I’ve already witnessed my first Sao Paulo thunderstorm - and I think there are plenty more where that one came from. It’s an exciting track to drive and a nice one to try to master, with all the elevation changes, the harder spectrum tyres and finding the best set-up to manage the aero demands for this circuit. Off-track? I’m looking forward to a nice juicy steak at one of the amazing churrascarias.”

Dave Ryan, racing director

“I hope we can get to a place where both drivers are happy with the way the car is handling this weekend, so we are at full strength and able to keep taking the fight to Sauber. Anything can happen in racing and this is a track that has produced more than its fair share of surprises. So we need to keep our wits about us and plan for every opportunity, and give our two very determined drivers the tools to get the job done.”

Sauber

Marcus Ericsson

"The Brazilian Grand Prix is a nice race weekend with lots of Formula One history. It will be an important race weekend for us. Of course, our objective is still to score points, so as a team we will do our very best to ensure Felipe and I finish the race in the top ten. We will keep working in the right direction, and we all know that we are hunting for the first point. Regarding the race weekend, I will have the chance to test the halo system for the first time on Friday in FP1. I am curious to see how driving feels with it."

Felipe Nasr

"I am really looking forward to my second home Grand Prix. Overall I had a nice experience last year. The Brazilian Grand Prix is certainly a very special race weekend for me. It is always great to see the Brazilian fans and have their support at the race track. I cannot wait to race at such an historical track that I really enjoy driving on. I expect a warm welcome and a lot of fans in Interlagos. I will be fighting to get a good result there, and it would be great if I could have the chance to score points at my home race. Hopefully my home soil can also bring us a bit of luck."

McLaren

Fernando Alonso

“I think every racing driver enjoys racing at Interlagos. It’s obviously a special place, and we saw at the last race just how important it is to have packed grandstands full of passionate fans - and Brazil is no different. For such a short lap, the track has a great flow – from the moment you cross the start-finish line, you plunge into the esses and then sweep down into the bottom of the venue’s natural bowl. Even with a couple of hairpins, it doesn’t really feel like any of the corners interrupt the flow around here, which means that, at the end of each lap, you’re already fully committed to attacking it again. I love this place.

“Sitting on the grid ahead of the race is one of those unique Formula One sensations: the crowd seems to loom over you; really in your face, very close. The atmosphere and intensity are always amazing. After a disappointing weekend in Mexico, I think we’ll be looking to bounce back in Brazil. One of our aims will be to make the most of practice and qualifying, and give ourselves the best chance of maintaining a better position during the race.”

Jenson Button

“I love Interlagos and I’m really excited about the weekend. There’s been some absolutely classic Formula One races there and it’s always a good climax toward the end of the season. I hope we can have a better result there than we did in Mexico and work towards getting back into the points. There’s only two races left so we’ll be giving it our all for the awesome Brazilian fans. The atmosphere at Interlagos is always something special, so we’ll go out there and show them a great weekend of racing.”

“The Interlagos circuit has a bit of - how can I put it? - ‘muscle’. It’s a place that you really attack - and it’s really enjoyable, particularly when the front-end is properly nailed. A corner like Ferradura is really satisfying when you get it right; you really commit at the corner entry, barely scrubbing off any speed, and then sort of guide the car through until it rolls out of the second apex up onto the apex kerb. It’s great. Even the hairpins require a really attacking style, you can take lots of kerb, and there’s no run-off at the exits. It’s how a racetrack should be, really.”

Eric Boullier, Racing Director

“Over the past few races, we’ve seen that our form has fluctuated due to a variety of circuit-specific characteristics. We’re working hard to iron out these differences from track-to-track, but it’s inevitable that some circuits will suit our package’s strengths better than others.

“Interlagos is a real test of car and driver and often we see the best drivers shine there. It demands a lot from them, and at this time of year the circuit is notorious for tricky driving conditions if it rains, especially on the many off-camber areas of the track.

“Along with the backdrop of Sao Paulo, the incredibly enthusiastic Brazilian fans and the undulating nature of the circuit all make for great racing and one of the most exciting Grands Prix of the year. McLaren has seen a great deal of success in Brazil - both Fernando and Jenson clinched their world titles there - and it’s a special place for our team. Interlagos rightfully deserves its legendary status on the calendar and we’re aiming for a positive weekend at this incredible venue.”

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer

“The Brazilian Grand Prix is always a special place for Honda due to our history with the great Ayrton Senna. We receive a warm welcome from the local fans every time we go there and that has always been the power that fuels us over the weekend.

"The classic track at Interlagos, however, is a challenging one. The swooping corners and the consecutive quick elevation changes make for beautiful scenery, but these turns ask a lot of the car balance. The track is also narrow, and the infield section is slow and twisty, so overtaking is always going to be difficult.

“Last year, we made more noise in qualifying with Fernando on social media than we did on the track. This year, we know that we can show our progress to our fans in Brazil with a better performance, and we're hoping for a good weekend of racing.”

Williams

Valtteri Bottas

“First of all, I think this is going to be such a cool race for Felipe as he is retiring and it’s going to be his last home race. I hope we can do well there and that he enjoys the weekend. Last year we did a good race and picked up some decent points. Brazilian fans are also always really passionate about Formula One. There is a nice combination of different types of corners on the track and it’s quite technical. The new tarmac that was laid there a couple of years ago has made it very grippy since, so I really enjoy racing at this track.”

Felipe Massa

“Interlagos is home. It’s the place that I grew up. It will be emotional racing there for the final time on such an amazing track. I’m looking forward to enjoying every single lap and hopefully I can manage to finish the race with a good result. I have won twice at Interlagos and have finished on the podium many times over the years and I hope we can get another one. It won’t be easy, but I will do everything I can for my people and for Brazil in my last race at home.”

Pat Symonds, chief technical officer

“We are expecting very poor weather in the lead up to the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend with a chance of showers on both Saturday and Sunday. We are hoping it will be dry, however we could see a situation similar to 2013 when the first real dry running we had was on race day. Interestingly, Pirelli have gone one step harder than last year, as opposed to going a step softer as normally happens, so we have the hard, medium and soft compounds available; the first time we’ve had that combination since 2013. Generally, we expect a two-stop race irrespective of tyre choice. In qualifying the lap time is very low, probably approaching 70 seconds this year, and so this leads to a very close grid where hundredths of a second really count. As a circuit it is quite sensitive to mechanical grip, more so even than downforce, although good aerodynamic performance counts in the middle sector. Whilst straight-line speed is important for overtaking, the preferred pass into Turn 1 comes largely from getting a good exit from Turn 12.”

Haas

Romain Grosjean

“It’s a pretty tough track with not much opportunity for a rest. Even in the straight lines you can’t rest as much as you would like. You’re at altitude as well, at 800 metres (2,625 feet), so coming from Mexico that’s nothing, but you’re still not at sea level. The weather can be challenging. It can be very warm and humid. It’s a pretty intense challenge but, at the end of the day, that’s what we’re looking for.”

Esteban Gutierrez

“Interlagos is a track that is very nice to drive. There is no real downside to the track. It is not a very long track, but at the same time, it has pretty different corners. Some corners you can use a lot of kerbs, which make it very interesting. It has quite a nice rhythm, so it’s always a very special track.

“The [anti-clockwise] direction of the track doesn’t really affect our feeling for it. Sometimes it just shifts a bit of the focus on tyre wear from one side compared to the other, but it’s nothing that should make a difference to us or any other team.

“It’s not one of the most physical tracks, but it is quite physical for the neck, and it being anti-clockwise factors into that. The strength goes to the opposite side and all the main straight is not really one straight - it’s a whole corner. In the race I remember my neck getting a good workout.”

Force India

Sergio Perez

“Brazil is a very welcoming country and it shares a lot with Mexico. The people, the culture, the food - there’s so much that Sao Paulo can offer.

“The track is very complex to master and has some tricky corners. It’s one of the few anti-clockwise layouts, which makes it harder from a physical point of view, especially for the neck. It’s a race where there’s always some external factor playing a big role, whether it’s the weather or something else: races at Interlagos tend to be special.

“It’s a very short lap - it almost feels like driving a kart circuit with a Formula One car! Because the lap is short, you can easily lose a lot of positions with a small mistake. You have to be precise in every single corner and aim for the perfect lap. You need a car that is stable at the rear, with no understeer so that you can make the most of all the changes of direction.

“You cannot race in Brazil without thinking about Senna. He is a legend for most of us driving in F1 and his presence is felt everywhere at the circuit.”

Nico Hulkenberg

“I have lots of good memories from Brazil: it’s where I got a pole position in my debut year in 2010 and where I had one of my best days in 2012. That was a very special race, leading for 40 laps in mixed conditions. It was exciting from the lights: it was dry, then it started to drizzle and some people stopped for intermediate tyres, but I stayed out, took a risk and made it work. It was a special experience and one of my best performances to date.

“I feel really comfortable and happy in Sao Paulo. The lifestyle of the Brazilian people really attracts me: the vibe of the city is great and I love the food too. I think feeling at ease somewhere plays a big part in performing well, so I am looking forward to this weekend.

“There is a lot of history at Interlagos and it’s an enjoyable track to drive. My highlight is the second sector: it’s twisty and technical, and a challenge to get it just right. The Senna Esses are an interesting corner combination as well - you can easily ruin a lap very early on if you get them wrong.

“The weather changes very quickly in Sao Paulo - the clouds come up to the track all of a sudden and hit us, which makes for some crazy weather and some crazy races, which is something I quite enjoy!”

Vijay Mallya, team principal

“Our strong showing in Mexico proved how competitive we are at the moment and gives us further encouragement for this weekend’s race in Sao Paulo. We’ve had some good memories from Brazil over the years and it’s a circuit that has staged some special races - often helped by wet weather.

 “It’s a very important weekend for us as we reach crunch time in our battle for fourth place in the championship. With two races to go and a nine-point advantage, every point becomes potentially decisive. We need to be at the top of our game to ensure we finish the job we have done so well all year.”

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, motorsport director

“We’re seeing the hard tyres in Brazil for the first time since 2013, which should prove to be very effective against the high-energy demands of the track. In 2015 we had a three-stop race, so with the increase in performance and downforce this year, taking a harder tyre - which has nonetheless been a very rare occurrence this season - was the only sensible option to offer a number of different strategy variables. Balancing its durability against the extra performance of the softer compounds will hold the key to the race tactics. The weather will obviously play a big part in these calculations too.”

Mercedes

Nico Rosberg

“Mexico wasn’t ideal. I was going for the win as always but Lewis was just a little bit faster all weekend. Sometimes you just have to accept that and be satisfied with your work. I’m not going to change my approach. I need to keep doing what helps me perform at my best and that’s going for the win every time. There are still two races to go and anything can happen in this sport, so I need to focus my energy on the factors that I have in my control. I’ve got good form in Sao Paulo. It’s one of the real classic tracks, which usually produce some exciting races, so I’m looking forward to getting out there and having a big battle in front of those awesome Brazilian fans.”

Lewis Hamilton

“It’s a great feeling when you’re able to show the kind of pace I’ve shown at the past two races. Everyone has worked so hard and the car has really been faultless. The speed has been there all season - I just haven’t always had the opportunity to take advantage of it. In terms of the championship, it’s an unusual scenario to be in - fighting for something and not knowing for sure that what you do will guarantee you’re able to make it. One outcome would be painful and the other would be a great achievement. Regardless, I’m going to keep pushing. Since the beginning of my Formula One career I’ve seen that everything can change even at the very last moment, so you have to fight to the bitter end. I’ve never won in Brazil, so I go into this weekend focused on changing that.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“Mexico brought us the best possible result from a race which was far from straightforward. It also leaves us with a fascinating scenario heading to Brazil. For Nico, all this talk of just needing to finish second in order to make it to the end is over. He has it in his hands. If he wins the race in Brazil, he is champion. We’ve seen many races, particularly in the second half of this season, where he has coped well under pressure. But, mentally, I think this new situation is actually a bit easier in terms of tackling the situation with a little less pressure, as he still has another chance in Abu Dhabi. Equally, Lewis knows what he must do to keep his title hopes alive. He will never back down and that’s what makes him one of the great ones. He has three championships and 51 victories under his belt - and no matter the outcome this year, we all know there will be more to come. It’s a really interesting dynamic and great for the fans. As a team, we will do all in our power to provide both with the opportunities they need. We’re maxed out on performance, as is normal at the end of a regulation cycle, and when that happens everything becomes more marginal. This is where we find ourselves right now, so we must remain focused on every last detail.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

“The drivers’ championship is getting very exciting with only two races to go. That’s the big focus of everyone’s thoughts and, as usual, we will do our very best to treat this as a normal race - approaching the weekend with the highest levels of discipline and an overriding objective to ensure we provide both drivers with the best equipment for a fair competition. Interlagos is a great track - quite a short lap, with a lot of elevation changes. Similar to Mexico City although not to the same extreme, Sao Paulo has slightly lower air pressure than the normal ambient, which has an effect on drag. The race weekend is also often affected by rain, which can make it an extremely challenging few days both on and off track. Another interesting feature of this circuit is the long run up the hill from the final corner to the first, which provides a good overtaking opportunity. It’s not easy to pass there but it’s definitely possible, which usually leads to close racing and some bold moves through that particular sequence. In fact, this venue has seen many dramatic moments over the years - including a number of championship finales. The Brazilian crowds are highly passionate and enthusiastic, so overall we look forward to another entertaining race weekend."

Renault

Kevin Magnussen

“Brazil is a legendary weekend. It’s got so much about it, many of my idols have raced at Interlagos in the past. In my childhood it was always the last race so it had that championship presiding feeling about it. I think it’s unfortunate that it’s not the last race anymore as it feels like it should be but it’s still a fantastic weekend nonetheless.

“I know a lot about the circuit and it’s one of those famous places that’s so ingrained in Formula 1 history. It’s a short lap, it has a go-kart feeling to it as you are having to turn all the time and it flows quite nicely. Interlagos, like Austin, is one of only a few circuits that run anti-clockwise, so it’s cool that these two races are close together on the calendar.

“From the first corner onwards, it’s 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 out there. But, as a driver, Brazil is another race and we’ll give everything we have to come away with a decent result for the team.”

Jolyon Palmer

“I’m feeling good for Brazil as it should just carry on the good momentum that we’ve had in the second half the year. It was a shame not to qualify last time out as we could have shown even better improvement. One of my best grid spots was in prospect, but we made up for it in the race. The race pace has been good for a long time now, qualifying pace has been good too. We had some decent battles with the McLarens in Mexico, so I think we can be pretty confident going into Brazil.

“The car is getting better every round still, and I’m driving pretty well and getting more and more out of it, so I think that combined with the fact Brazil is a nice track, means I’m hopeful for a positive weekend.

“I did FP1 there last season. I was quite new to the car but I actually really enjoyed it. It’s an interesting layout and I was pretty competitive. It’s a legendary circuit which has a fantastic atmosphere. It’s anticlockwise so you have a lot of fast left-handers which we’re not so used to! I quite like turn one and two, the Senna esses, it’s a good combination of corners. It’s good for overtaking but also easy to lock-up at the end of that straight heading into the downhill left-hander. The inside wheel is particularly unweighted as you’re braking and starting your turn-in, because of the camber of the corner. If you get it right here, you can have a decent advantage against a rival. There have been many interesting races here in the past, I remember Hamilton winning the title at the last corner and the 2012 race as well, where Vettel won too.”

Fred Vasseur, team principal

“We are seeing for a while now that we have made a step up in terms of performance regardless of the circuit we are visiting, so that is encouraging. We are seeing that the gaps in the midfield are getting smaller all the time and it’s up to us now to put it all together in terms of set-up, tyre management, and extract everything possible from the potential of the car.

“I expect further progress on track as we continue to extract the maximum from the R.S.16. There are still areas that we can work on to improve the overall team performance whether it is pit stops, set-up work or tyre management. I know that the team is completely focussed on that and it’s good to see their motivation.”

Nick Chester, technical director

“It’s an anticlockwise clockwise circuit with varying gradient and situated at quite high altitude, but not as extreme as Mexico. Sao Paulo is around 800 metres above sea level whereas Mexico City was over 2,000, so you lose a little bit of downforce, but nothing compared to the last race. It is quite a challenging circuit to set up for because of the contrasting needs of the twisty infield and the long straight. We would like to run maximum downforce for more grip in the twisty bits, but you need to be as drag-free as possible to maximise your speed on the long straight.

“It’s hard to generate grip at Interlagos so it won’t be too easy on the tyres. We will have the Pirelli soft, medium and hard compounds available but we don’t expect to see too much use of the hards. The track is bumpier than some of the smooth circuits we have visited recently so this will affect our mechanical set-up.”

Cyril Abiteboul, managing director

“For Brazil, as ever, we want to see both cars in the points to cement our progress. There’s much more to come for 2017, but we still want to end this first season in the best way possible.”

Red Bull

Max Verstappen

“I like the track in Brazil, it’s a really special layout with quite a bit of height elevation, and it is anti-clockwise which always adds a bit more fun to the challenge. The track is quite a technical layout, especially sector 2, it’s important to get this right for a quick lap. Like many of the circuits we race at it has had a lot of history and great moments over the years, this makes it one of the ‘special’ ones on the calendar.

“I haven’t had much chance to discover a lot of Sao Paulo yet. I gathered from last year that it is a really busy city, hopefully this year I will have the chance to explore and see some more local culture. The one great spot I went last year was Fogo De Chao, a really nice authentic Brazilian style steakhouse, I will definitely be returning there this year. By the time I go to Sao Paulo I will hopefully be ready for a good steak following the feast we had in Austin.

“It is obviously the penultimate race of 2016. It is strange to think we are heading to Abu Dhabi in just a few weeks’ time, but I’m looking forward to finishing the year on a high and building towards an even stronger 2017.”

Daniel Ricciardo

“The atmosphere at the track in Brazil is pretty unique, a lot of air horns and noise always make for a good crowd. Even more so this year as it is Felipe’s last race there. Brazil is one place you don’t want to be Felipe Massa’s team mate, you get so much abuse on the drivers parade its hilarious. I think Bottas is going to be really in for it next week.

“The lap is quite a short one but it’s definitely grown on me over the years. Sao Paulo was quite an overwhelming place when I first went there but I have now found a few little hot spots. As it is near the end of the season we usually do some big team dinners there which means it’s a really sociable race week. It’s up there as one of my top races due to the off track fun, let’s hope the on track action can match it.

“Another great part of racing in Brazil is the steak. There is some really good meat to be had out there so I always make sure I have time for a feast. One last recommendation is to have a caipirinha, they are awesome.”


More to follow.