Preparations for the final Grand Prix of the 2006 Formula 1 season are drawing to a conclusion as the Team McLaren Mercedes team fly out to the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This original five mile circuit layout, which was built in the...
Preparations for the final Grand Prix of the 2006 Formula 1 season are drawing to a conclusion as the Team McLaren Mercedes team fly out to the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This original five mile circuit layout, which was built in the 40s, has modernised over the years and still encompasses part of the old track, making it an exciting circuit at which to compete.
The first Grand Prix took place in Brazil at Interlagos in 1973 and was won by reigning Champion and local hero Emerson Fittipaldi, the year before he moved to McLaren and took his second title. In 1974, Emerson also took the chequered flag first, this time at the wheel of his McLaren M23.
In 1978 the race was moved from Interlagos to the Jacarepaguá circuit near Rio de Janeiro. Twelve years later, the race came back to São Paulo.
Another legendary McLaren driver took the most recent win at Interlagos secured by a Brazilian, with Ayrton Senna winning the 1993 Grand Prix at the wheel of an MP4/8. The race was an example of the Brazilian's extraordinary talent, as Ayrton completed the final third of the race in sixth gear.
Interlagos has seen many historical moments in the history of the team, including in 1995 when on March 26th McLaren, Mercedes and Mobil 1 made their Formula 1 debut as team partners. The race saw Mika Häkkinen and Mark Blundell take fourth and sixth respectively for the new team.
Since 1998, Team McLaren Mercedes drivers have won the Brazilian Grand Prix four times within eight years. In 1998, Mika Häkkinen won ahead of his teammate David Coulthard; one year later, the Finn repeated his success. On both occasions, he started from pole position and posted the fastest lap of the race. David won in 2001. Last year, Team McLaren Mercedes took another 1-2 victory at Sao Paulo with Juan Pablo Montoya winning ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.
The race also sees Kimi Raikkonen's final outing as a Team McLaren Mercedes driver.
"I have always had dramatic races in Brazil, I guess the track encourages exciting racing. The atmosphere is always amazing, the Paulistas are crazy and I hope we can put on a great race for them. Overtaking is possible here, there are a number of places, but the main one is into the first corner, you slipstream up the hill and along the straight and then pass under braking into the left hander."
"You do need good grip to be quick, and set-up of the car is not to either extreme to try and be quick in the twisty section at the back of the track and also up the hill and onto the pit straight. Another couple of the main features of Interlagos are that a lot of the corners have adverse camber and we run anti-clockwise."
"This will be my final race with Team McLaren Mercedes; I am of course sad to be leaving the team. We have had some great times together and it would be fantastic to go out with a win. It is going to be tough, but we are all pushing hard to try and make it happen."
Pedro de la Rosa:
"After the disappointing race we had in Suzuka, I am looking forward to getting back on track and working with the team to finish the year on a high. The test in Jerez this week has been positive, with a lot of the focus on tyres with Michelin and as a result, we feel confident we will be able to get more out of them at Interlagos. The track tends to be fairly abrasive on the tyres, but we are fully prepared for this."
"Qualifying is vital here, so we have to improve our performance from Japan. Because of the gradient of the start / finish straight, you need to be near the front of the grid otherwise you start on a much steeper hill. The track at Interlagos is bumpy, this does lead to significant vibrations and it makes it quite a demanding race on the car. Braking stability is also very important in Brazil."
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, Team McLaren Mercedes:
"It is fair to say that the 2006 season has been far from ideal for Team McLaren Mercedes, and as a result it would be fantastic for the team and our Partners to bring the season to a close with a victory and there has been a massive final push by everyone involved toward making this happen in Brazil. As with any race this will be a challenge, but you cannot predict anything in motor racing as we have seen over the past few races."
"As we go into the winter, we have exciting prospects ahead of us for the coming season and the motivation and determination within the team is incredibly high. This race marks a definite end of an era for us as a racing organisation with the departure of Kimi. Ron spoke for the team in Monza when he said how much we have enjoyed working with Kimi since the start of the 2002 season and we wish him all the best."
Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
"Interlagos will be a great finale to a great season from many viewpoints. Of course, all the interest will be focused on the Drivers' Championship, which has not yet been decided. With regard to our team, we certainly want to end a difficult season with a good result for Kimi and Pedro. We have won four out of the last eight Grands Prix here; a fifth would be a good conclusion to a season in which we wanted to finish first and finally ended up third."
"In Brazil, Kimi will drive his 88th and final race for Team McLaren Mercedes. During his five years with the team he has been Championship runner-up twice, in 2003 and 2005. On behalf of Mercedes-Benz I thank him for his efforts and achievements, and I wish him all the best for the future -- which will begin in the next Grand Prix, the last one of 2006."