Brazilian GP: McLaren preview

2002 BRAZILIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW The West McLaren Mercedes team travels to Brazil for round three of the FIA Formula One World Championship, which takes place at Sao Paulo's famous 2.677mile / 4.309 km Interlagos circuit. After the Malaysian...


The West McLaren Mercedes team travels to Brazil for round three of the FIA Formula One World Championship, which takes place at Sao Paulo's famous 2.677mile / 4.309 km Interlagos circuit.

After the Malaysian Grand Prix, West McLaren Mercedes third driver Alex Wurz flew directly from Sepang to undertake an intensive five-day testing programme at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. David Coulthard joined Alex in Spain for three days of the session.

McLaren has an illustrious history at the Brazilian Grand Prix, having won the event ten times ? more than any other Formula One Constructor. McLaren took victory for the first time in 1974, with local hero Emerson Fittipaldi at the wheel. Last year saw David take a dramatic first Brazilian Grand Prix win at the Interlagos circuit in an eventful rain-affected race.

This year's race marks the 30th anniversary of the inaugural Brazilian Grand Prix, which was held in 1973 at Interlagos. Since then the event had switched venues between the Sao Paulo track and Jacarepagua, which is located near Rio de Janeiro, until the race returned to a redesigned Interlagos in 1990.


"Although I have a difficult start to the 2002 season, the West McLaren Mercedes team does have a package that is capable of winning races and we have all been working hard to increase reliability. Of course the desired outcome for me in Brazil would be a repeat of last years result, however I am primarily focusing on opening my points tally for 2002. Interlagos is a physically demanding track, in particular on your neck, as we mainly race and test on clockwise circuits."


"I am looking forward to the Brazilian Grand Prix, although it is a tough race. The track provides a number of good overtaking opportunities, in particular under braking as you enter the first corner. Although last year's result was not the highlight of my year, I really enjoyed the race. The country is full of real racing fans and the long queue of race goers waiting to get into the Interlagos circuit on race day was amazing. There appears to be a genuine passion for the sport and that is great to see."


"The West McLaren Mercedes team has been working hard following the unsatisfactory result in Malaysia in a bid to marry competitive performance with reliability. We have again demonstrated in testing this week in Barcelona that we have the capability to achieve the complete package, and we now must translate this into the race environment in Brazil."

"The Interlagos track is punishing for both the drivers and cars, with the heat, uneven surface and anticlockwise direction all having an impact. The uphill slope of the pit straight is also an influencing factor, it is important to qualify well so that you have the advantage of not having such a steep gradient from which to make your start."


"Interlagos with its long uphill straight, twisty infield section and extremely bumpy surface is a very challenging circuit for the drivers, the chassis and the engine. Following the engine failures in the last Grand Prix our main target was to achieve reliability again, and we have worked very hard on this in Stuttgart as well as in Brixworth."

Lap of Interlagos - Alex Wurz, West McLaren Mercedes third driver

Starting a lap of the anti-clockwise Interlagos circuit, you push hard on the throttle reaching 184mph / 296kph in seventh gear, as the track gradient drops sharply on the entrance to the Descida do Sol. As you brake hard for the tight left turn, which provides excellent overtaking opportunities, your speed is reduced to 55mph / 88kph in second gear. Dabbing the throttle, your speed increases slightly as you negotiate the right-left flick of the 'S' do Senna, which is taken at 92mph / 148kph in third gear.

This is immediately followed by the long left hander, which is quite bumpy but still flat out, and leads you onto the fast Reta Oposta straight. Powering up through the gears you reach 180mph / 290kph in seventh gear, braking hard for the double apex of Descida do Lago, which is negotiated at 89mph / 143kph in third gear. The entrance to the first tight left provides another good overtaking opportunity. Exiting the second apex, which is very bumpy and should be flat out, you blast along the short straight that leads to Ferradura, braking from 171mph / 275kph in fifth gear to 115mph / 185kph in fourth to negotiate the difficult and slippery right hander which is off camber in the exit.

A short burst of power leads to a slow, tight right hander, which is taken in first gear, and is immediately followed by the second gear 55mph / 88kph left hand of Pinheirinho. Exiting in third gear, your speed builds up to about 99mph / 160kph before braking hard for the Bico de Pato hairpin, the slowest point on the track, which is taken in first gear at 46mph / 74kph. The bumpy left hander of Mergulho follows, which can be taken flat out in qualifying at 125mph / 201kph in forth, before braking hard for the important left hander of Juncao, which is taken in second gear at 50mph / 80kph). This leads you uphill through the long left hander of Subida do Boxes, which takes you back onto the long start-finish straight.


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers David Coulthard , Alexander Wurz , Emerson Fittipaldi
Teams Mercedes , McLaren