Brazil hasn’t had a world champion since Ayrton Senna won his third world title for McLaren in 1991, but the country’s passion for Formula 1 continues unabated.
The 2.6-mile track is one of the oldest circuits in F1, having hosted its first world championship grand prix in 1973. It’s been altered and made safer since that first race, but it retains much of its original character.
It’s bumpy, undulating and narrow, and it’s one of five anti-clockwise circuits on the 2012 calendar.
The track is located 875 metres above sea level, making it the highest venue on the F1 calendar. The altitude affects the performance of the cars by reducing the power from the engines by about 7 percent.
That places an even greater emphasis on handling and aerodynamic-efficiency, both of which are strengths of the MP4-27.
Neither Lewis nor Jenson has won the Brazilian Grand Prix, but both men clinched their world titles at Interlagos in 2008 and ’09 respectively.
After Lewis’s emphatic victory in the United States last weekend, the team goes to the season finale hoping to end 2012 on a high.
Jenson Button: “I’ve had some great experiences racing in Brazil – I won the world championship here in 2009, of course, but I can also remember having strong races here, especially in 2006 when I finished on the podium.
“I think we showed in Austin that we have an incredibly quick car, particularly in race-trim, and I’d love to have a clean weekend, a trouble-free qualifying and then have a good run at scoring some strong points on Sunday.
Traditionally, it’s not been a circuit where we’ve been at our strongest, but I think this year’s car has often been strong at tracks where we wouldn’t normally have been up there, so I think we have a chance to go for the win.
“Of course, Brazil will be the backdrop for the championship showdown – and it’s a great track upon which to end the season on a high. I’m not putting my money on anybody, but I hope we have a fantastic contest and may the best man win.”
Lewis Hamilton: “Brazil has been the scene of some epic races for me during my time at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and, for many reasons, this weekend will be a very big race for me.
“I nearly won the title here in 2007, clinched it on the final turn in ’08 and drove like crazy to finish on the podium in ’09. But I’ve never won: and that’s what I’ll be aiming to do this time around.
“As my final race behind the wheel of a McLaren, I vow to the whole team that I’ll give it my all on every single lap.
My win in Austin last week was one of the races of my life, and I’d love to take victory in Brazil this weekend to give the team the perfect farewell present.
“Finally, a word on the championship: it’s a very finely poised battle, and neither Sebastian nor Fernando can afford to relax for a moment.
They are both fantastic drivers, and both have driven superbly all season. Now, we’ll see who takes the final honors – I hope it’s an epic contest.”
Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: “This weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix will bring the curtain down on another fascinating and exciting world championship.
Additionally, it’ll be Lewis’s final race for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes – the end of a long, and successful, chapter in the team’s history.
“I think our win in Austin last weekend has buoyed the team after a couple of disappointing races, and has shown that, in terms of raw speed, the MP4-27 wants for nothing.
That’s an encouraging message to be sending home to our engineers and designers for the winter, and also a positive for our drivers, who know that they’ll likely be equipped with race-winning machinery for the Interlagos weekend.
“The Formula 1 world championship couldn’t ask for a more epic backdrop to the title decider than the sweeps and valleys of Interlagos.
There’s little to choose between the performances of Sebastian and Fernando this season, and all I hope for is a fair and true contest on Sunday.”
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes