Formula One travels to a third successive continent this weekend to contest the next round of the FIA Formula One World Championship. Having contested the first two races on unfamiliar territory, the notoriously bumpy and unforgiving Interlagos ...
Formula One travels to a third successive continent this weekend to contest the next round of the FIA Formula One World Championship. Having contested the first two races on unfamiliar territory, the notoriously bumpy and unforgiving Interlagos circuit will mark Antonio Pizzonia's first home race as a Formula One driver. At a track that he knows well, Antonio will be able to focus his efforts on set-up and strategy optimisation as opposed to learning a new track.
While the pace of the Jaguar R4 remains promising, the opening two races of the season have not yielded just reward for Jaguar Racing because of unreliability issues and in Malaysia, the Jaguar R4's performance potential was significantly hindered by the fuel load needed to compensate a weekend-long fuel pick-up problem -- something the team has taken corrective action on in time for the Brazilian Grand Prix. Despite the corrective action, the team will not be in a position to fully evaluate the feedback until the two-hour testing session on Friday morning. The brake problem that forced Antonio's retirement on lap 43 in Malaysia has also been addressed with a re-design on the specific component.
Despite the fact that Jaguar Racing has undertaken no track testing between Malaysia and Brazil, both Mark and Antonio visited the team's Milton Keynes HQ immediately after the Malaysian Grand Prix. They spent the day in discussions with management, analysing data with their respective engineers and addressing the 300-strong workforce.
David Pitchforth - Managing Director:
"We suffered a difficult and tough weekend in Malaysia with a fuel pick-up problem on both cars. The extra fuel that we carried all weekend penalised our true pace but nonetheless, our individual sector times speak for themselves. Mark, for example, was a tenth off Michael Schumacher's sector two time during qualifying and even though Mark suffered a 30-second delay during his first pit-stop because of a clutch issue, he pushed the Jaguar R4 back to a points-scoring eighth place before we decided to retire him. At the time, he was running a few tenths off the pace and given our strategy, he would have finished anywhere between 5th and 8th place."
"The brake problem on Antonio's car was very surprising considering the amount of testing that we had carried out over winter. Nonetheless, we have undertaken a re-design on the component concerned and we'll see how it fairs during Friday testing at Interlagos. Michelin continue to impress and we seem to be extracting the best out of the tyre. The Malaysian compounds were extremely well-received by both drivers and Brazil should pose no big problems for Michelin."
"The season began with a home race for Mark and this time, it's Antonio's turn. There will inevitably be extra pressure on Antonio going into his home event and considering how well he knows Interlagos, he can take full advantage of the set-up time available to him as opposed to using valuable time on familiarisation mileage. Both drivers visited the factory this week and their enthusiasm and commitment was well-received by the workforce -- most of whom have not stopped working since the R4 hit the test track. This business is renowned for the punishing pressures it places on individuals and the regular visits of both drivers to the factory is very important."
"Mark and Antonio are clearly team players in every respect of the word and I know they are very anxious to reward our hard-working factory -- something we know we are capable of achieving once we've dialled-out the gremlins that have robbed us of points in the first two races of the season."
"My home race is going to be special. I first raced at this circuit in 1996 and since then I have always enjoyed Interlagos. Racing in front of my home crowd is not making me nervous, in fact I have less pressure here as I know the track and can actually concentrate on qualifying and the race as opposed to learning the layout."
"I was naturally disappointed to not finish the race in Malaysia but I know that the team has been pulling out all the stops in an effort to resolve the fuel-pick up problem. The track itself is great despite the fact that you go anti-clockwise. My neck muscles will be under additional strain as this will be my first time around the track in an F1 car. After the extreme conditions of Malaysia though I feel very comfortable with my fitness going into the race -- we undertook a very comprehensive and punishing regime in the run-up to Malaysia.
"I will head to Brazil early to support Jaguar Cars and HSBC with pre-race events and media activities but also because my sister is getting married this weekend. The 'Amazon wedding' will take place in my hometown of Manaus. The family reunion will then follow me to Interlagos where I hope to deliver a different kind of wedding present for my family!"
"Interlagos is a bumpy circuit and one that tests your physical ability, particularly your neck muscles as a result of the anti-clockwise nature of the circuit. The Ferra Dura and the Bico de Pato are good corners on the track and I enjoy these, although the first corner is the best for overtaking. With this in mind, the start of the race is likely to be exciting and after my promising, albeit frustrating races at Albert Park and Sepang I will be looking to make the most of any opportunity that comes my way".
"I have been at the factory again this week in an effort to meet the troops and as I have said so many times before, the work that goes into preparing and engineering a modern-day F1 car is simply astonishing. Some of the guys haven't had a day off for weeks but the intensive labour will pay off very soon -- I am sure of that. The speed and balance of the Jaguar R4 is clear to see. We must not forget how late the R4 design process was started last year and given the other changes that took place within the company, I am very impressed with the potential of the package we have."
"This season is about two things; earning respect for Jaguar on the race-track with competitive performances amongst the midfield and then taking the next big step with R5. There is nothing to suggest that we cannot achieve this and considering that Ian Pocock (Director of Engineering) and Chris Hammond (Head of Vehicle Science) only officially started two weeks, there is also a considerable amount of untapped 'brain power' to be applied."