Brazilian GP: McLaren preview

The Interlagos circuit, near São Paulo, hosts round 17 of the 2005 Formula One World Championship. With only three races remaining this season, including Brazil, Team McLaren Mercedes arrives in South America still challenging for both ...

The Interlagos circuit, near São Paulo, hosts round 17 of the 2005 Formula One World Championship. With only three races remaining this season, including Brazil, Team McLaren Mercedes arrives in South America still challenging for both Championships.

Kimi Raikkonen lies second in the Drivers' World Championship with 86 points, 25 points behind Fernando Alonso with 30 points available to win, and team mate Juan Pablo is fourth with 50 points. Team McLaren Mercedes remains second in the Constructors' Championship with 146 points, six points behind Renault.

With a maximum of 54 points to be scored by a team, Team McLaren Mercedes and Renault are the only remaining title contenders, as defending champion Ferrari is third with 56 points behind McLaren-Mercedes.

The first Brazilian Grand Prix in 1973 was held at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo, which was built in 1940. Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi, won the inaugural race in 1973 in a Lotus. He then went on to win the following year's Grand Prix for McLaren in an 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.

The last time a Brazilian won on home soil was in 1993 when Ayrton Senna won with McLaren in his MP4/8, having completed the last third of the race in sixth gear.

On March 26 1995, the partnership between McLaren and Mercedes-Benz made its Formula One debut in Brazil. Mika Hakkinen finished the race in fourth place and Mark Blundell in sixth. In 2004, today's Team McLaren Mercedes team mates Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya were the men of the race. Juan Pablo, then in a BMW-Williams, crossed the line in first place only a second ahead of Kimi, whilst the rest of the field was almost half a minute behind.

Including Kimi's victory at Spa eight days ago, McLaren-Mercedes have won eight out of the last 11 races and 50 per cent of all races this year so far, more than any other team. The team led 517 of the season's 1,000 laps in the first 16 races and led from start to finish in the last three Grands Prix. Kimi achieved six race wins, six pole positions and seven fastest laps so far.

Kimi Raikkonen:

"With only three races remaining nothing but another win will do for me in Brazil this weekend. I will be pushing hard to get maximum points for both the Drivers' and Constructors' Championships. Qualifying at the front will be important, as there is a slope that gets steeper the further down the grid you are, which can make your start slower. There are chances to overtake at Interlagos so we often see exciting racing here, the main one is under braking into the first corner."

"The track surface is very bumpy, which can cause major vibrations, so you need to be 100% focused at all times as they can jar the car, and you mustn't be caught out by it. Braking stability is key, as you have to brake at the same time as turning in going into most of the corners, and this is one of the many things MP4-20 handles well."

Juan Pablo Montoya:

"Interlagos is a challenging track, that demands high grip, with lots of different features, including the long, fast straights and the twisty infield. The atmosphere is always amazing, the passion of the Paulistas is what motor sport is about, and the queues to get into the track every morning are just crazy. Also, the race is close to home so family and friends tend to come and watch and I hope we can put on an entertaining race for them."

"Interlagos is the third anti-clockwise circuit we race on, in addition to Imola and Turkey, and this does put different pressures on our bodies, specifically the neck area. However we prepare for this with our trainers so it is not a big deal. Myself and Kimi had a great battle here last year and hopefully we can dominate again this weekend by taking 18 points away from Brazil, which is what we need for the Championship battle."

Alex Wurz:

"We had a positive test in Silverstone last week, where I was joined by Pedro. Work was focused on tyre selection for the Japanese Grand Prix, as we had already completed our pre-race programme with Michelin for Brazil. We will focus on completing the set-up and Michelin selection programme during Friday's sessions. The set-up will of course need to allow for the bumpy surface, although the ride heights will be raised slightly, we still need to keep them low to ensure we have the speed and handling required for the Interlagos track."

Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, Team McLaren Mercedes:

"Our main aim at Team McLaren Mercedes is to leave the Brazilian Grand Prix having secured a one-two podium finish, and we know we have the performance to achieve this. The current strength of the Team McLaren Mercedes package is a testament to the work that has been taking place all year in Woking, Brixworth, Stuttgart and on the test track, and we need to take this and optimise our position in the fight for both Championships."

"We came so close to taking the lead in the Constructors' at Spa, however were hampered by matters out of our control, however we are looking to make amends in Brazil. 2005 is the first time the race has been held in September. As a result, the weather we can expect this year is typically cool (18 -- 23 degC) and potentially wet. With the expected weather, we have been studying tyres with Michelin that will give good performance in the expected cooler conditions."

Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

"The Interlagos circuit saw the track debut of the McLaren-Mercedes partnership 10 years ago. Since then we have won three times and everybody in the team has worked hard in order to obtain another victory on this demanding circuit. The track is a physical challenge for the drivers, as it is one out of only three anti-clockwise circuits after Imola and Istanbul. This places different physical pressures on the drivers, as the forces in the corners are on the opposite muscles."

"As for the racetrack, the bumpy surface causes major vibrations in the car and also influences the set-up, as the team needs to ensure it rides well over the bumps and it has high levels of grip. Our aim is to maintain the momentum from the last four races which we have won, in order to finish the season with the maximum possible points in both Championships. We will see whether we can score enough to be at the top of the rankings at the season's end."


Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Williams