A thrilling 2005 season nears its climax this weekend as Formula One heads to Brazil for Round 17 of the 19-round Championship. This is the first of the final three long-haul races which take the B*A*R Honda 007s on a four-week, round-the-world...
A thrilling 2005 season nears its climax this weekend as Formula One heads to Brazil for Round 17 of the 19-round Championship. This is the first of the final three long-haul races which take the B*A*R Honda 007s on a four-week, round-the-world trip from South America to Japan and then to China for the season finale.
The Brazilian Grand Prix has always been a firm favourite of the B*A*R Honda team and this year the team will have endeared itself even further to the Sao Paulo crowd with the confirmation that local hero Rubens Barrichello will race for the team in 2006.
Test driver Enrique Bernoldi, who hails from Curitiba, will also visit his homeland with the team and of course fellow Brazilian Gil de Ferran makes a much-welcomed return to the paddock of the Autodromo José Carlos Pace in his role as B*A*R Honda Sporting Director.
In preparation for the long-haul races, B*A*R Honda took part in an intensive three-day test in Barcelona this week - the last opportunity for race drivers Jenson Button and Takuma Sato to test before the end of the season. Boosted by its podium finish at the last round in Spa, the team is upbeat as it heads to Brazil and determined to make the most of every opportunity in the remaining three races.
This is a circuit which often presents its own opportunities, thanks to a number of good overtaking areas and the weather, which frequently throws up a few surprises and makes race day in Sao Paulo anything but predictable.
"I'm really looking forward to the race in Brazil as this is a circuit where I always enjoy driving. The race is usually an exciting one with the weather coming into play quite often to liven things up a bit. It's a demanding circuit for both the car and the driver and your fitness is so important in managing the left-hand turns."
"We had a good test in Barcelona looking at development aero parts designed to improve our performance with a higher-downforce set-up. The car is handling well, which is essential as you need a good aero package at Interlagos. It is one of the bumpier tracks on the calendar so car stability is all-important."
"Unfortunately I haven't been able to finish the race during the past few years but have always been able to get myself into a strong points-scoring position. I'm looking forward to getting back into the action at the front of the grid and scoring some more points for the team."
"Interlagos is one of only three circuits where the track runs anti-clockwise and physically it's tough for the drivers with all the left-hand corners. The infield is very much like a karting track with all the twisty corners and slow speeds."
"It's a circuit that always sees exciting racing because there are some overtaking opportunities, although it is still difficult. The track used to be very bumpy but the resurfacing last year helped reduce that. We have had a positive test in Barcelona which is encouraging for the race."
"We will be back to a higher-downforce aero package after two low-downforce races, which the team is confident will suit the car. It will be tough for me having to start further down the grid but I'm looking forward to fighting my way through the field and having a good race."
Gil de Ferran, Sporting director:
"Interlagos is considered the home of Brazilian motor sports for many of my countrymen and it was there where my racing career began nearly twenty five years ago. I have attended many Brazilian GPs over the last several years, but this one will be a very different experience for me. I am delighted that most of our team, including the drivers, seem to enjoy the track."
"As far as our expectations go, we had a productive test in Barcelona and as a result we will bring some new developments to Brazil which will hopefully contribute to increased performance over the weekend. Our podium in Spa gave everyone in the team a boost, so we await our first free practice sessions on Friday to see how we look compared to the competition."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering director, Honda Racing Development:
"Interlagos provides a good test of engine performance and we are looking forward to seeing what we can do after another encouraging test at Barcelona."