Toyota's Allan McNish recalls his Brazil weekend. "Unfortunately, I didn't see much of Brazil while I was here. I saw the airport, the hotel and that was it. I had one function to do in the TransAmerica hotel where there were a lot of local ...
Toyota's Allan McNish recalls his Brazil weekend.
"Unfortunately, I didn't see much of Brazil while I was here. I saw the airport, the hotel and that was it. I had one function to do in the TransAmerica hotel where there were a lot of local journalists and people from the Brazilian end of Panasonic and Toyota.
It's always interesting to come to a circuit I haven't raced at before. I've got to say that Interlagos surprised me quite a lot. You just don't get an impression of the scale of the elevation changes that the circuit has when you watch on TV. It's bumpy, yes, but also quite technical and challenging. The heat is also a factor and the fact that the circuit runs in an anti-clockwise direction means that it puts a strain on the other side of your neck to what you are used to.
Generally, the weekend wasn't too bad apart from my bad luck on the first lap of the race. We were very well sorted on Friday. The TF102 felt really good and we seemed to have achieved a nice balance. But then on Saturday it didn't feel quite as friendly. It picked up an understeer that we never really managed to sort out, and so we were one step behind at that point.
On Sunday, in the race morning warm-up I was back to a balance again but obviously I never really got a chance to find out how well I could have done.
I made a decent start from 16th on the grid and managed to pass a few cars into the first corner. Coming onto the back straight I was right behind Mika, but he suddenly pulled out and there was a front wing there right in the middle of the track. I hit it head-on, which ripped my front wing off, damaged the tyre and the aerodynamic barge boards on the side of the car and left me with no alternative but to go back to the pits.
The team put on a new nose and made some rapid repairs and sent me back out. But the car basically got progressively worse, with more and more oversteer. My race ended on lap 40 as the car's handling deteriorated. I locked up the brakes going into Turn 4 and spun off.
I've seen the replay on the television and the car did swap ends really quickly. I'm not really sure what happened but considering where I stopped, right on the edge of the circuit, I wasn't about to hang around having a look at the car. I just ran out of there!
At the beginning of the race, immediately after I went out of the pits after the first lap problem, the car was actually going really well. I was running right behind a McLaren and a Renault fairly comfortably. If I had been racing Kimi Raikkonen for position then I think I could have overtaken him, but I was a lap down and certainly was not prepared to risk anything.
Despite the problems we encountered during the race, driving around Interlagos was highly enjoyable. Seeing all of the Toyota signage all the way around the track was certainly good motivation and gave me a good feeling that the Panasonic Toyota Racing team had a lot of support. After only three races of our first season that is extremely positive, and good for the whole team.
I am currently testing at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia until Thursday. Then, it's something new. The Basel watch fair would you believe! After that I will have a couple of days to gather my thoughts before concentrating on the beginning of the European season at Imola in just under two weeks time, where hopefully we can continue with the strong progress we have made already this year."