Panasonic Toyota Racing GP Preview Round 3 Brazil The Panasonic Toyota Racing team arrives in Brazil for round three of the 2002 Formula 1 World Championship buoyed by an encouraging start to its season in the Far East. A points finish by Mika...
Panasonic Toyota Racing GP Preview Round 3 Brazil
The Panasonic Toyota Racing team arrives in Brazil for round three of the 2002 Formula 1 World Championship buoyed by an encouraging start to its season in the Far East. A points finish by Mika Salo in Melbourne was followed by the team's first top 10 qualifying slot in Malaysia.
Three of the team's TF102 chassis arrived in Sao Paulo over the weekend, having been freighted directly from Kuala Lumpur. It was the first time that Panasonic Toyota Racing's cars had touched down in Brazil because the 4.331 kilometre Interlagos circuit, situated in the northern suburbs of Sao Paulo, was one of just three permanent race tracks at which it did not test in 2001.
Aside from the team's lack of set-up data, it's drivers also lack experience of Interlagos. Mika Salo has not raced there since 1999, and Allan McNish has never been there. Both men have been doing extra neck training since Malaysia in preparation for the unusual stresses provided by the anti-clockwise direction of the track.
Interlagos was built in 1940 between two lakes (hence Inter-lagos) and has been the permanent home of the Brazilian GP since 1990, prior to which the race was shared with the Jacarepagua circuit in Rio de Janeiro. It is now home of the only grand prix in South America.
"More than ever, my job is to pour water on everyone's expectations at each race! We are performing better than we expected at this stage of the programme, but I don't want people to expect too much. Look at Brazil next weekend: we have not tested there, so we have a steep learning curve. Having said that, I am very pleased with the progress we are making. We took a bit step forward in the way that we work in Malaysia and, if we make similar progress in Brazil, I'll be happy."
"I can't wait to get started at Interlagos because I think it will suit our car well. Power is important - and I think our engine is okay - and you don't have to run maximum downforce. The car deserved points in Malaysia, so I hope I can put that right here. I like the lay-out of the track, although the bumps make it hard on both the car and the driver."
"I came away from Malaysia with mixed emotions: disappointment that I didn't score my first world championship point, yet happy that I was able to mix it in pretty good company on the race track. Interlagos is a track that neither I nor the team have been to, so we have a lot to learn. But we have proved already this year that we enjoy challenges, so I'm confident that we'll be okay."
Mika Salo's lap of Interlagos:
"From a driver's perspective, Interlagos means one thing: bumps. All around the lap ripples in the tarmac unsettle the car, which are made even more treacherous if it's wet. It's a pity because the actual lay-out of the track is quite nice, with a good mix of fast and slow corners and undulations. You can find a good rhythm. It's also a racer's track because there is an excellent overtaking place at the end of the pitstraight. The track is wide and you have just been sitting in someone's slipstream for the previous 10 seconds... trust me, it's easy!"