Brazilian Grand Prix Preview – Vodafone Mclaren Mercedes
“Winning in Abu Dhabi last week was a fantastic feeling, and it’s made me even more determined to finish the 2011 season with a victory. It would be great to go into the winter off the back of another win, so that’ll be my aim next weekend.
“It’s rare for there to be a straightforward race at Interlagos – particularly if the weather plays a role. I hear it’s been raining heavily in Sao Paulo at the moment – if it rains on Sunday, anything could happen. I remember having one of my best races in Formula 1 there in 2009 when I qualified 17th in seriously wet conditions, but raced up to third by the chequered flag. I spent the whole race overtaking people – it was brilliant.
“Of course, for Jenson and myself, Interlagos is the circuit where we won the world championship, so it will always hold some happy memories for us. In fact, I’ve only been here once [in 2009] when I wasn’t in contention for the championship. This year, with both titles already wrapped up, I want to enjoy myself: and I think we have the car to once again make a difference – we’ll pick up where we left off in Abu Dhabi, I hope.
“I think we’re all set for a great end to the 2011 championship: Interlagos is a fantastic circuit, one of the best on the calendar, and I think the combination of KERS Hybrid and DRS, plus the possibility of wet weather, mean we’re all set for a fascinating race.”
“You’re struck by the sense of history whenever you go to Interlagos. There’s the bust of Carlos Pace on the way in to the circuit, and so many great drivers have come from here – including two McLaren world champions, Emerson Fittipaldi and Ayrton Senna. It’s such a unique place: it’s always an exciting experience to be racing around in the bowl with the packed grandstands looking down on you.
“There are a lot of physical challenges to overcome at Interlagos. It’s a busy lap with a lot of corners and gradients. I can only imagine what it must have been like to race here in the 1970s when it was twice as long but still packed into the same amount of space. Although it’s not the only anti-clockwise circuit on the calendar, the combination of bumps, gradients and corner speeds put a lot of stress on neck muscles that are more used to turning right than turning left.
“KERS Hybrid will play an important role at this circuit because there is quite a short drag from the start line to the first corner. Towards the end of the lap you’ve got a long uphill section out of the final corner and the power will certainly help there, too. And, if you can’t get past into the first corner, then I definitely think you’ll be able to close up along the start/finish straight and then have a look at passing on the short straight ahead of Turn Four, using DRS.
“I think we proved in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes still wants to win races even though both championships are now settled. Certainly I’m determined to win my fourth grand prix of the year, even if it means fighting all the way to the last lap of the last race.”
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“While everybody at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is extremely proud of Lewis’s dominant victory in Abu Dhabi, we’ve already switched focus to Brazil and are relishing the prospect of taking home back-to-back wins with which to end our 2011 season.
“Many of the recent races in Brazil have been complex, fascinating and gripping, particularly for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: in 2007, we came within a hair’s breadth of winning the title with either driver; the following year, Lewis so memorably snatched the title at the very final corner; in ’09, as Jenson blazed to the title, while Lewis drove with incredible commitment to finish on the podium. Last year, we held on to our championship aspirations with a double points finish.
“A victory here would be particularly satisfying. In fact, we’re keen to take our seventh win of the season here. Lewis and Jenson have now scored three wins apiece this year and each of them are equally motivated to take their fourth. From a team management perspective, that’s an excellent position for us to be in.”