Brazil: Saturday Weather Update

Heavy rain in Interlagos has delayed the start of the final practice session ahead of qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

A deluge half an hour before the scheduled 1100 start for FP3 has rendered the track too dangerous for the cars to go out. So far only the safety and medical cars have hit the track to complete installation laps.

The rain is starting to ease now and the race director has confirmed that the session will get underway at 1142, as marshals continue to sweep up the puddles of water.

The teams are predicting further rain later in the session, so running is likely to be kept to a minimum.

Doubt has also been cast over the start time for Saturday’s crucial qualifying hour – in which championship leader Jenson Button will be looking to put himself as close to the front of the grid as possible for his assault on the world title on Sunday.

Thursday Press Conference Summary

With less than 24 hours before the cars hit the track in preparation for Sunday’s potentially title deciding Brazilian Grand Prix, championship leader Jenson Button and his main contenders, teammate Rubens Barrichello and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, spoke to the assembled media about their individual challenges this weekend.

  • Button and Barrichello did their best to brush off any inkling of pressure;
  • They revealed that the Brawn team had brought a few new updates to improve laptime in the high speed corners;
  • Vettel confirmed he is going all out for the win;
  • All three discussed the challenge posed by a wet race this weekend;
  • Barrichello talked about racing in front of his home crowd, his ill-luck at Sau Paulo, and the possibility of racing for Williams next year;
  • Button said he needed to strike a balance between caution and aggression this weekend.

Q: Gentlemen, first of all questions to you all. Are there any particular preparations you have made for this race? Who would like to start? Sebastian. You have prayed for rain obviously.

Sebastian VETTEL: Yes, successfully today. No, we will see. Nothing special really. I have been here a couple of times and I like the circuit. It is up and down but preparation-wise nothing special.

Q: Jenson?

Jenson BUTTON: Not really. I’ve been spending a few days in the sun which is quite nice before coming here. I arrived here on Tuesday to get used to the time zone but it is really strange with the weather. Tuesday it was cold, yesterday it was really hot and today it is raining. It is very up and down with the conditions and it is going to be the same for the weekend. There is a very good chance of rain but also there is the possibility of it being dry, so it’s a tough one. It’s the same for all of us and I am sure we will make the best out of every situation.

Q: Rubens? A few laps with the children?

Rubens BARRICHELLO: I have been spending my time booking churrascarias for friends of mine. I got into Brazil on Tuesday morning after Japan, so just my normal life. Exercising, picking up the kids from school and just being at home exercising nicely. It was a day off last Monday, so we had time to stay away from Sao Paulo a little bit more which was good.

Q: Any particular efforts your team has been making or any modifications coming here?

SV: We had a very good package for Singapore. If you look at the last two races we have been very competitive even though the circuits are very different to each other. For here we have got another couple of things in the bag. As you have probably seen from Japan, Mark (Webber) tested another kind of front wing, so it should be another step forward, so it should be good.

JB: We have got a few changes which should help us here. It should help us around a circuit like this quite a bit. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but in Suzuka we were very quick in sectors two and three. In qualifying I was actually purple but the first sector we struggled massively. Mid-speed changes of direction we really struggled and that’s where we lost all of our time in Suzuka. But the changes that we have got for this race should help out a little bit but also the areas that are crucial on this type of circuit should be a good step forward.

RB: It is good. We know where the problem was the last few races, so we kind of addressed the problems and the track should suit us very well. The weather is the only thing that we should pay attention to but I am quite optimistic for the home grand prix.

Q: All of you have got races that you look back at and think ‘if only such and such hadn’t happened’. Do you do that as the championship gets tighter and tighter?

SV: It doesn’t help. I mean, it’s done. Looking back I had five races where I didn’t finish, so of course it doesn’t help. But we cannot change it now, so nothing to regret. I think it is still a good season for us, the best one we have ever had, so very positive and we can still do it. Of course it is a couple of points in between us and the leader but anything is possible and we are here to win.

JB: I think it is the same for all of us. That’s the way it is over a 17 race season. There are races which you are very happy with and other races which you are not. As Sebastian said it is all in the past and it is about making the most out of the next two races. There are the most important two races for all three of us this season and I am coming into this race looking forward to it. This is a circuit I enjoy. After here we have Abu Dhabi which is new for all of us, so it is going to be a challenge. But there is no point looking back. Mentally I don’t think it is good looking back. I think it is better to look forward and that is exactly what I am doing.

RB: Since I have changed my brake material for Silverstone I have been very happy. In terms of performance it has been quite good and I am just driving a car that I think has been very fast and consistent. The season showed ups and downs for everyone. I think Brawn is the one that when it has been down it has still been okay. I have been very happy. The second part of my season has been quite good and I just hope I can keep it on.

Q: Sebastian, it is a big mountain to climb. Two wins. Surely the pressure is great or would you say the pressure is not great at all?

SV: I mean the only thing I can do is win. The pressure is on the two people in front of me. For me it is pretty straightforward. You don’t have to be a genius to work out that from now on we simply have to win the two races and hope that those two mess it up.

Q: And after Japan are you riding on the crest of a wave?

SV: I think so. Both the last two races, Singapore and Japan, were very good for us. Obviously, Singapore should have been a bit better but it is in the past now and I am just hoping those three points are not missing in the end. But we will see. Japan, obviously, was fantastic for us. The car was great all weekend, so looking forward to the next two races.

Q: Jenson, has it been car confidence? Has it been this change mid-corner or has it been starting behind Rubens? What has been the problem over the last few races?

JB: The last race was obviously difficult because of the starting position and the mistake on Saturday with the yellow flags and in Singapore the qualifying was difficult. We were trying to find the maximum from the car but we went a little bit too far and the car was running a bit low and I hit the brakes and locked up. But the race pace has been very good. I think I have got the most out of the car, what there has been to take in the races and the pace has been good especially in Singapore. But it is always very difficult when you are starting far back. It is very difficult to overtake these days in F1 and every opportunity there is to make a move I have made this season. But starting where I did made it very difficult for me to pick up good points. But the couple of races before that I was happy with the car, I was happy with the balance and the results were reasonably good, so coming into the last two I am reasonably positive. I have a good feeling with the car and our upgrades should help us quite a bit. We will see what happens. Sebastian is saying the pressure is on us. I don’t think that is quite the case. It is the same for all of us. We are all excited about the next two races. It means a lot to us for sure. We are all fighting for the championship. It is the first time I have been fighting for a championship in F1, same for Sebastian and maybe the same for Rubens, so it is an exciting situation to be in but I am the one that has got the lead.

Q: You are team-mates but at the same time rivals with Rubens. Here you are in his backyard with tens of thousands of his closest friends. Aren’t you going to be the villain as it were here?

JB: No, I don’t think so. If we were people that didn’t get on and we hated each other’s guts I think it would be a very different situation. We have worked well over the last four years we have been working together and this year is no exception. Rubens beat me in Silverstone, in my home country, and I would like to do the same to him here. It is a nice feeling when you get beaten by your team-mate in your own country.

RB: Not.

JB: But I think they understand the situation and we are all fighting for something that is far greater than we have achieved in the past. I think they will respect that.

Q: Rubens, is people power an advantage or a pressure? They are all expecting so much of you and they have been thinking that for years.

RB: It has been a long road coming to Brazil and at the beginning, feeling the pressure but learning, more than anything, how to deal with it and changing to get that positive energy and just using that to your advantage. I feel so great to be here. It is really nice and like I said, for me it is a winning year already. I put my hands into the sky to thank for the car I have and for the wins that I have and for the chance I have to win in Brazil. Something that I have been dreaming of for a long, long time, so hopefully the car will be back into the performance that we wish. The second part of the season has been a little tough in terms of getting the performance, especially because the Red Bulls and some other cars are going quite fast but hopefully here I can just put everything out and go for the win as I need it and because I want it so badly.

Q: So is wet weather a good thing for you?

RB: The wet weather has always been good for me. Looking at the forecast it looks like Friday and Saturday could be quite wet and Sunday a little bit better. That’s the first impression that we have. I think the Red Bulls are quite fast on the wet and we could be a little bit better in the dry but having said that it is all the same for everyone and we have got to be prepared for the situations.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Germany) Jenson, it has been kind of a strange season. You have won six races but the last one goes back to Turkey. Since then you have more or less kept the distance to the other. How is it going towards the end and having not won for a long time but still having that lead?

JB: As I said this is not a one race series. It is 17 races and as you’ve said I’ve kept the lead over the last few races. If you look after Monaco I had a 14 or 16 points lead, I cannot remember what it was, and I still have a 14 point lead now. If I knew I would have the same lead after Monaco I would have been very happy at that point of time. I am not in such a bad situation. That’s it.

Q: (Joris Fioriti – APF) Would you say that you have been controlling the whole season?

JB: I have not purposely gone out to finish in the points but not win the race, for sure. I go out to get the best out of the car at every race that I compete in. I have led the championship all the way through the season, so it is a different situation to the people chasing. It has to be. They need to be more aggressive than I am. I don’t want to just finish in the points. That has never been my objective but there are situations that you don’t want to put yourself into and you can have an accident. You have got to be a bit cautious in some areas but also in other areas you need to be aggressive, otherwise you are not picking up points at all. I think I have had a reasonably good balance of that.

Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Sebastian, firstly how do you rate Sao Paulo for your car and, secondly, do you think Mark could be helpful for you in the battle for the championship with the trial he made in Suzuka and the fact he is no longer in the race?

SV: This circuit should suit us. You still have a lot of corners where you need the downforce and it seems that is our strength, so we are looking forward to it. On the other hand you don’t really know what to expect as this year has been very much up and down. You have seen different teams at the top. I think this weekend the teams with KERS will be also very strong as you have got places when you a have a steep uphill and you need the acceleration. It will be exciting to see that. For your second question, I think first of all it is a good thing not to have the situation they (Brawn) are facing, they have to race each other. It is a shame for Mark that he is not any more in the race for the title, but we are a very strong team. We are working together hand in hand and I think if the situation should come up, then I think he is the last one to deny any help.

Q: (Ian Parks – The Press Association) Rubens, you announced earlier in the week that you were in discussions with Williams and you’re also speaking with Brawn. Is it a distraction having to discuss your future while you’re trying to fight for the title and is it also a disappointment that you’re having to look for another team potentially, despite your best season in Formula One with Brawn?

RB: It was a distraction last year when I got here and I had no jobs; that was a distraction because it was tough going in not knowing if I could come back, wishing that I was there all the time. So to be able to talk to teams and just to see myself in a competitive car next year is all I wish. My focus has been a long, long time into this season. In a way I’m so proud that after the race in Silverstone I have kind of turned things around a little bit and I was able to really get a lot of speed out of the car, with the car working for me as well. So no, I’m fine, it’s no distraction, it was really a distraction last year to see if I had to consider it as my last race or not. I didn’t want it to be, but things were tougher than they seemed to be.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sebastian, you have used all your eight engines; which kind of engine are you going to use here? Have you already chosen at the previous race? It could be a handicap.

SV: I don’t know exactly which one; one of the ones that we have left. I think the last couple of races were good for us, because it was often wet on the Friday, for instance Spa or Suzuka, and in the wet you have less running, so everyone does less mileage and so did we. So we saved mileage without paying too much of a price. So it shouldn’t be a problem here. Interlagos has always been a circuit that in dry conditions is improving quite a lot. On top of that, we don’t know if it will be wet or dry, so we will see how much and how many cars are running tomorrow. But it shouldn’t be a problem.

Q: (Joris Fioriti – AFP) Jenson, do you think you would have been able to control the season this way five years ago – in other words is it thanks to your maturity or your experience that now you have been able to be in such a good position?

JB: It’s always a difficult question to answer because I wasn’t in this situation five years ago. In 2004, we had a pretty good season with BAR. We were the best of the rest after the Ferraris. In that situation, we had nothing to lose for sure, but the consistency was very good then. I think I got ten or eleven podiums back in ’04, actually more than I’ve got this year so far. But for sure it was a very different situation, because, as I said, I had nothing to lose. I could really go all out because I knew there was no real chance of taking the championship, we could be very aggressive in every race. It’s difficult to know if I would have been the same five years ago. Nobody really knows. I think that people are at their peak at different points in their career. Lewis won the World Championship in his second year in Formula One which you wouldn’t think most drivers could do, so it’s your experience through other formulae and the situation that every single person is in is different. For me, this feels like the right time, for sure, but I’m going to say that…

Q: (MC) You talked about aggression and caution just there; how much has that balance changed this year from the start to now, given the situation?

JB: I think it’s when you’ve got a reasonable lead, you think that you need to be a little bit cautious in certain situations. I think you need to have a balance. For sure you can’t just drive round waving people past, hoping that you’re not going to crash. There has to be a balance there and I think that normally with racing there is anyway, none of us want to crash at turn one, we all want to get through and have a good result, but it’s just making sure that you’re not doing anything stupid and maybe a little bit out of character. It’s nothing extreme, it’s just different than maybe I would have thought five or six years ago.

Q: (MC) But have you been aware of that balance changing throughout this season, as it’s progressed?

JB: Probably a little bit more, I think, when you get a bigger lead, I think it changes a little bit. It’s not suddenly night and day, it’s the smallest of margins, but as I’ve shown in a few races of late that I’m not just going to sit back and hope for the best result. For example Monza with Heikki (Kovalainen), with (Robert) Kubica at the last race. You need to make the moves when you can and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.

Q: (Thierry Wilmotte – Le Soir) Rubens, you’ve experienced a lot of bad luck in your races at Interlagos. Firstly, are you thinking about this bad luck this year before the race, and secondly, what are your best and worst memories of this Grand Prix?

RB: Well, first of all I don’t believe in bad luck. I just think that this is… there was a famous phrase from a driver saying that ‘the more I work, the more luck I have.’ It depends on your work and all the problems that I’ve had here in Brazil have sort of been human failures. I’ve actually gone off a few times, so for me it’s not bad luck that I finish a race without fuel in the car. I don’t believe that is bad luck, so I’m fine. I think in life we have what we plan or what we dream, so I have all the possibilities to have the best race of my career here and now and that’s what I’m prepared to do. Obviously, I don’t live in the past and like I said, I don’t care about the results in the past. I care about what I can change and maybe next year you come here and you see that it’s very positive and then you won the race and this and that, so for me it’s more on those terms.

I have plenty of good memories here, because, if you remember, I qualified in the top three with the Stewart and I remember all the people coming down the tribunes. I finished on the podium with the Ferrari. I have plenty; sure, I wish I had won here already but I have really good memories, and I feel that I drive well on this circuit, so it’s just a matter of time for someone who works.

Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Rubens, you’ve known Felipe Massa for a very long time. It’s seems that since he’s been on the sidelines looking at Formula One from a distance he’s become a lot more outspoken, he’s been talking about his new team-mate recently, saying that he suspects he knew more than he’s been letting on about Singapore. He’s been saying that he was robbed of the championship, he’s been saying that Jenson might bottle the championship. I wonder if you think that he’s changed at all since his absence?

RB: No, I don’t think he has. I think he’s been the same person and all my wishes, when I was at the hospital, were that he was the same guy. And after I saw him with my own eyes and I saw that he was the same, I wished that he could drive the same way, and he went to Fiorano and did that. From all the people that I’ve spoken to and to himself, it looked like he got into the car and on the third lap he was on the pace. But there is one fact that in Formula One if you’re not travelling with everyone all the time and not hearing what the same people are talking about, you just get different ideas and maybe you’re flying on your own ideas. He’s been out for a month and then he comes back in and talks about something and it becomes a lot more important, so it’s not like what we hear every fifteen days or sometimes every week, we talk about the same things and we’re prepared to talk about the same things that you guys are talking about for the whole week. So maybe that’s what causes us to be so much more… for us to give it so much more importance to what he says, but for me it’s just the fact that he’s been out and not living the world that we’re living in.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Jenson, do you feel anything different in yourself when you wake up and know that this weekend you can be World Champion, and, if it’s easier to control your emotions when you are inside the cockpit?

JB: Well, I woke up very happy this morning. I had some pretty good dreams. So I woke up with a smile on my face, sweating, yes. No, I woke up happy and looking forward to the weekend. I don’t think it adds to pressure, knowing that you could win the World Championship that weekend. I think it adds to the excitement, for sure. It’s not a negative, it’s a positive. I’m excited about the weekend, as I’m sure these two are. Inside the car? I don’t know. I haven’t got in it yet. On the way in, I didn’t have any unusual excitement, but we’ll see tomorrow. The exciting thing about this weekend is the weather: it could be wet, it could be dry, so it’s going to be important to make the right decisions over the weekend and not make it too complicated.

Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) If I could just ask Rubens and Jenson: leaving aside your own personal battle, it looks almost inevitable that you’re going to win the Constructors’ Championship this weekend. I wonder if you could just say a few words on just how extraordinary that is for a team in its first season, given what happened in January and February.

JB: It’s an amazing story and it is a Hollywood movie, for sure. If it happens. It’s not a hundred percent yet. I would like to say that it is but it’s not. Taking us out of it, not talking about ourselves, I think the team has been through a lot this winter and it’s not just whether they could compete in Formula One, it’s whether they had a job that could pay for their kids’ school and what have you. It was a very difficult situation for them over the winter and I think a lot of them found it very tough but they had good leadership and that’s what counted and it gave them hope and it gave them a positive outlook for the future. In the end, we got the deal done and we were able to come racing. I think when everyone saw the car drive for the first time in Barcelona they were very surprised by the pace of the car. They had obviously worked very, very hard over the winter but nothing went wrong. Everything that could have gone wrong didn’t. It was perfect, a perfect test. The bodywork – everything fitted together just so nicely, there was no burning bodywork after the first running in practice, the reliability of everything, it was just a perfect first test and you don’t get those tests unless the season is going to be good. So if we come away with the Constructors’ Championship this season in the first year of Brawn GP, I know it’s not a completely new team and there are a lot of very experienced people in the team, but it will be a very emotional moment for everyone, as it was in Australia when we finished one-two. It’s the first time I’ve seen Ross (Brawn) speechless and if it is going to happen here or in Abu Dhabi I think it will the same situation. Ross has achieved so much in this sport, but to win a championship with his own team is far greater than what he’s achieved in the past, I think. And that goes for everyone within the team. They’ve worked so hard with this team, whatever its name was in the past, they’ve worked very, very hard and they deserve whatever we achieve this season.

Q: (Sarah Holt – BBC Sport) Similar question to Alan’s: you were talking about the team effort from Brawn, and in that sense, Jenson, would you be able to comment if the title went to Rubens, and Rubens, if it went to Jenson would you able to comment on why it would be deserving, because you guys have both been battling for a long time and I guess both of you would like to win the title?

JB: Wow, that’s an interesting question. If Rubens won the championship I would absolutely hate him! We come here for one thing only and that’s to win the World Championship. That’s our aim in life since we were an eight year old kid or even younger. Your aim is to be the best and to win a championship in Formula One over a season. That’s what we’re all here to do. We are working well together and I think we’re good friends, aren’t we?

RB: Yeah, just here.

JB: Just a little bit. But you come here to win with very competitive people, and if Rubens won I would be very disappointed, for sure. But I would also respect the fact that he did a better job over the 17 races and I would also respect the fact that he’s worked as hard as I have or maybe harder in that case and he’s the better driver over those 17 races.

RB: I think it makes the situation a bit more comfortable because, like Jenson said, we haven’t won the Constructors’ just yet but I believe that it’s very, very close and it should be done, and hopefully this weekend. And by doing that, we have this feeling that we’ve both worked for that, and it’s what we’re giving to the team and the team gave us. So in the other championship, we just have to work for ourselves to win, like Jenson said, we don’t want to lose the chance. I feel that particularly it’s my very first chance, that I really have the chance to… it was put this way, somebody gave me the chance to go for the title and win myself. So for me it feels comfortable that we are working hard to beat each other, but it’s comfortable for the fact that we both work very well together for the Constructors, so the team should be very happy and proud with that.

Renault target Brazil podium

Renault have set their sights on a podium finish in this week’s Brazilian Grand Prix as the battle for sixth place in the constructors’ championship hots up with two races remaining on the 2009 calendar.

The French team arrive in Sau Paulo on the back of a frustrating Japanese Grand Prix where a poor showing in qualifying left Fernando Alonso outside of the points on race day.

That enabled their rivals Williams to extend their lead in the battle for sixth place in the constructors’ championship to 34.5 with Renault on 26 points defending BMW Sauber on 24.

Interim Renault team principal Bob Bell has vowed to be aggressive in Brazil to close the gap to Williams.

“If we can qualify well, we can convert that performance into points,” he said. “We go to every race determined to win and at the very least aiming to finish on the podium, and we’re not going to alter our fundamental approach by being defensive to try and protect our position.”

“The only way that we can come out on top relative to both those teams is to take an aggressive approach and try to maximise our finishing positions.”

Commenting on the challenges of the Interlagos circuit Bell added: “It’s a demanding track for drivers as it’s anti-clockwise which puts a lot of demands on them physically.”

“In terms of the car, we will run with quite a lot of downforce and it’s important to have a well-balanced car with good stability which gives the drivers confidence.

“We’re also racing at altitude as the circuit is about 800 metres above sea level, which impacts on the power of the engine, so we will need to work on the mapping to optimise engine performance.”

Fernando Alonso, two times a world champion with the Renault, knows the significance of his final two races with the French team.

“We know that we have a very tough battle in the championship against Williams and BMW and so any points I can score in the final two races will be very important.”

“Interlagos is a circuit that will always be very special to me because I won both my world titles with Renault there. It’s one of the most enjoyable races of the year because the fans are so passionate about Formula One and there is an amazing atmosphere all weekend.”

Glock to sit out Brazilian GP

Timo Glock will not participate in the Brazilian Grand Prix due to injuries he suffered in qualifying at Suzuka, the Toyota F1 team confirmed on Sunday.

Glock was initially diagnosed with only a minor cut to his leg following his accident in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix, but subsequent medical checks in Germany have revealed a cracked vertebra. Doctors have therefore ruled him out of this weekend’s race.

Third driver Kamui Kobayashi will replace Glock at Interlagos, Toyota announced at the Motor Sports Japan festival on Sunday. Kobayashi took part in Friday practice at Suzuka while Glock recovered from illness and acquitted himself well despite difficult conditions.

President John Howett said: “Obviously everyone in the team is very disappointed and feels for Timo; we wish him a very speedy recovery. Based on the initial diagnosis, we fully expected Timo to return in Brazil but unfortunately a different injury has been revealed which prevents that.

“He will remain in Germany to recover and we hope he can recuperate in time for Abu Dhabi, although at this stage the situation is not clear.

“Kamui was the natural choice to step in and he proved in Suzuka that he is capable of holding his own. It is a difficult task for him but he knows the team will give him its complete support and we know he is motivated to make the most of this unexpected opportunity.”

A decision on Glock participation in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be made in due course.

Kamui Kobayashi’s Career Summary

1996 SL Takarazuka Tournament, Cadet: 3rd
1997 SL All Japan Cadet: 1st
1998 JAF Cup West Cadet: 1st
1999 SL All Japan Tournament (S stock, D class): 1st
2000 All Japan Junior Kart Championship
Suzuka Kart Championship: 1st
2001 All Japan Kart Championship, ICA: 1st
Asia Pacific Kart Championship, ICA
Esso Formula Toyota Racing School scholarship
2002 Kart Euro Championship
Esso Formula Toyota Series (1 race)
2003 Esso Formula Toyota Series: 2nd
2004 Formula Renault Italia: 4th (2 wins)
2005 Formula Renault Italia: 1st (6 wins)
Formula Renault Eurocup: 1st (5 wins)
2006 Formula 3 Euro Series: 8th (Rookie of the Year)
2007 Formula 3 Euro Series: 4th (1 win)
2008 GP2 Asia Series: 6th (2 wins)
GP2 Series: 16th (1 win)
F1: Panasonic Toyota Racing, third driver
2009 GP2 Asia Series: 1st (2 wins)
GP2 Series: 16th (1 podium)
F1: Panasonic Toyota Racing, third driver

Brazilian GP Preview: Button on the home straight

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Eyes on the prize… Jenson Button prepares for the final hurdle.

All eyes will be on Jenson Button going into the final two rounds of the 2009 Formula One season as the 29-year-old Brit homes in on his childhood dream of becoming world champion after a testing and character-building nine years in the sport.

With a fifteen point championship lead, courtesy of a string of conservative drivers under pressure in recent races, all Button has to do is finish ahead of his main championship rival, teamamte Rubens Barrichello, or finish within a five point striking distance of the Brazilian, to be crowned champion with one race to spare.

On paper it couldn’t be easier for the man from Frome. But Button knows he will have to tread carefully. The Brawn is no longer the quickest car on the grid, although it is one of the most reliable (touch wood), and that could see Button start the grand prix at the wrong end of the top ten, as he has done in previous races.

So far he has been lucky, but the tiniest amount of ill-luck going into the notoriously tight Senna Ss, a clipped wing, or a coming together, would mount to disaster. If Button has one sole objective going into Brazil it is to avoid a DNF. Pretty much anything else will do.

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Sau Paulo’s Notorious Senna Ss

Rubens Barrichello always runs strongly at his home race, and with nothing to lose it would not be a shock to see him transcend the car to put himself at the front of the field, putting Button under serious pressure to stay in tow.

Previous British World Champions – Will Button join them?
Mike Hawthorn (1958), Graham Hill (1962, 1968), Jim Clark (1963, 1965), John Surtees (1964), Jackie Stewart (1969, 1971, 1973), James Hunt (1976), Nigel Mansell (1992), Damon Hill (1996), Lewis Hamilton (2008).

Sebastian Vettel retains an outside chance of winning the title after his dominant display in Singapore last week. All the Red Bull driver can do his fight for the win and hope that misfortune intervenes for his Brawn rivals.

Elsewhere, Lewis Hamilton will be looking to carry his momentum from Singapore and Japan to a track with should suit the McLaren, providing his KERS system is at full working order down the long, climbing start/finish straight.

Teammate Heikki Kovalainen joins a long list of drivers looking to impress his current – and prospective – employers to secure a drive next season, amid growing speculation that Kimi Raikkonen is on his way to McLaren.

Nick Heidfeld, Giancarlo Fisichella, Kazuki Nakajima are other drivers that will have to impress to hold on to their seats.

Felipe Massa will be in the garage at Ferrari for this home race following news that his eye has fully recovered. He will watch on as Kimi Raikkonen prepares for his penultimate race for the Scuderia, the scene of his 2007 championship glory.

The Brazilian Grand Prix

The 71-lap race takes place at the atmospheric 4.309km (2.677-mile) Autódromo José Carlos Pace in Interlagos.

Brazil

The track is situated between two man-made lakes that provide water and electricity to Sao Paulo, giving rise to the traditional name of Interlagos. It first hosted the Brazilian Grand Prix in 1973, since when there have been several changes to the layout. The most significant alteration was in 1990, when the original 7.8km (4.8-mile) circuit was shortened to its current length. The track was renamed in the late 1970s after local hero José Carlos Pace, who won the only Grand Prix of his career at the circuit in 1975.

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The track is one of only three circuits on the calendar that runs in an anti-clockwise direction, making it physically tough for the drivers. It is notoriously bumpy and, at 800 metres above sea level, is the highest racetrack of the year.

Circuit Statistics

Formula One Brazilian Grand Prix Sau Paulo

  • Date: 18/10/09
  • Circuit Length: 4.309km
  • Race Distance: 305.909km (71 laps)
  • Winner 2008: Felipe Massa Ferrari

Circuit Guide
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdUEbMmUCnc&feature=PlayList&p=62A7DCA1926E2E00&index=44[/youtube]

Drivers Eye:

Lewis Hamilton: “My highlights are Turn One, braking into the long left-hander which bends right and takes you out onto the back straight; Ferra Dura, which is a fast right-hander where you body is squeezed hard into the side of the car, and the main straight: you accelerate hard uphill and you can even hear the crowd and the Brazilian drums playing in the grandstands.

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“One of the greatest things about racing at Interlagos is the crowd. There s such a great atmosphere; the fans have so much energy and life. It s a party while you re working, and it s great to see everyone happy.”

Robert Kubica: “The Interlagos track is very nice to drive. Especially sector 1 with the first three corners is quite challenging. Turn 1 is blind and therefore it is difficult to find the ideal braking point there. The final sector goes up a huge hill and consists of a couple of left turns.

“In Brazil we drive anti-clockwise, which is physically quite tough as we are used to driving the other way round. If it rains in Interlagos, driving will be very tricky as there is lots of standing water on the track. So I m hoping for good weather.”

Heikki Kovalainen: “The Interlagos circuit is quite a challenging one for the drivers because it s anti-clockwise, which, after a season of racing on clockwise circuits, puts quite a strain on your neck muscles. But you quickly forget that once you get out on the circuit it s an incredible racetrack, really demanding but very satisfying when you get a lap right.

“Interlagos hasn t traditionally been a circuit where we have excelled, but we feel that we ve resolved quite a few of the issues that affected us at this race last year, and using KERS Hybrid particularly up that long hill out of the final corner should be a considerable benefit both in qualifying and the race.”

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Nick Heidfeld: “Interlagos is a fantastic and very challenging track. Because you drive it in an anti-clockwise direction, it puts a real strain on your neck muscles. The circuit used to be full of horrible bumps. Having it resurfaced before the 2007 Grand Prix made a huge difference, but by 2008 the track wasn t as good. I ll be interested to see what kind of condition it is in now.

“In the last two years we had some exciting championship deciders there, with the weather always ready to tip the scales. There could be a repeat in 2009, even though Brazil isn t the final race this time.

“I m in two minds about São Paulo. The churrascarias are really special, and I guess the city has a great deal to offer. On the other hand you hear about all these muggings year after year, which puts you off any major excursions. I m looking forward to seeing Felipe (Massa) in the paddock again.”

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INTERLAGOS – THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE

The high altitude and a bumpy track surface provide the two biggest engineering challenges at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace. At 800 metres above sea level, the reduced atmospheric pressure at the circuit reduces engine power and has a negative effect on aerodynamic performance.

The track was resurfaced prior to last year’s race, but some of its notorious bumps still remain, particularly in the braking area for Turn 4, the ‘Descida do Lago’. To avoid bottoming out, the cars have to run with increased ride heights, which reduces the effectiveness of their diffusers.

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There are two overtaking points on the lap: into the ‘S do Senna’ at the start of the lap, and under braking for the ‘Descida do Lago’ left-hander at the end of the back straight. However, the most important corner is ‘Juncao’, Turn 12, from where the cars accelerate up the hill towards the start-finish straight. Good traction at the exit is vital to achieving a good lap time.

Bridgestone are taking their soft and medium compound tyres to the race which is one step harder than the rubber used at last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix. However, the twisty in-field could still result in some graining early in the weekend when the track surface is still green.

Full throttle: 61%
Brake wear: Medium
Downforce level: Medium / High – 8/10
Tyre compounds: Soft / Medium
Tyre usage: Medium
Average speed: 214kph (133mph)

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Technical Insight with BMW Sauber’s Willy Rampf: “The Brazilian track is one of the few where the cars run anti-clockwise. The crucial part of Interlagos is the middle section, where the turns come thick and fast. This calls for good downforce, traction and balance. Strong engine output is critical in the final sector, in particular, where the start/finish straight climbs steeply. The recent track resurfacing has evened out a lot of the bumps.”

Brazilian Grand Prix tickets

Major doubts over Donington

doningtonparkplanoct08-lgThe chances of Donington Park hosting the British Grand Prix in 2010 are looking increasingly slim after the circuit organisers missed Friday’s deadline to prove to Bernie Ecclestone that they have the finance in place to hold the event.

Simon Gillet’s Donington Ventures company won a 17-year contract to host the British Grand Prix, but a catalogue of legal battles, missed deadlines – and most significantly the absence of any sound financial backing to deliver a £100 million upgrade of the circuit – has cast major doubt over the event.

Bernie Ecclestone’s latest deadline for Donington to get the money in place was Friday, but he confirmed that this deadline has been missed.

“It’s not good, is it?” Ecclestone told The Times. “Even if they get the money, I cannot see how it will all be ready in time to go.

“It is very disappointing because we thought it would happen, but they cannot go on missing deadlines.

“They could still come to us saying they have the money, but there is no way the circuit would be ready at this late stage. It looks as though we will have to start planning again.”

Speaking at this year’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Ecclestone backtracked on his original stance – that the grand prix would be at Donington or not at all – by saying that he expected Silverstone to host the event should Donington fail to get a financial plan in place.

Massa’s eye fully healed

Felipe Massa has been told that his left eye has fully healed following his accident in Hungary three months ago, but he will not take part in this season’s final grand prix in Abu Dhabi.

The Ferrari driver was hit on the head by debris during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix and after emerging from a critical period in hospital he has since been recovering at home in Brazil.

He attended the Pitié Salpetrière hospital in Paris for further FIA-approved medical tests where doctors confirmed that his left eye has now fully recovered from the incident.

Initially there were concerns that Massa could lose his eye sight due to the the impact of the debris – an airborne steel spring weighing 800g.

His wound has also improved visually following cosmetic surgery in Miami.

“The first outcomes are positive, especially the ophthalmological exam which confirmed that Felipe, who arrived with his personal doctor Dino Altmann, has recovered the functions of his left eye by 100 per cent,” Ferrari confirmed.

Massa will be back behind the wheel of the F2007 Ferrari in Maranello next week, but he confirmed that he is unlikely to race before 2010.

“My hope is to come back soon, although I know the ideal thing is to return 100 per cent [fit] at the start of next season,” he said, “My dream would be to be at Abu Dhabi, but the chances of this happening are very, very small.”

Massa will attend his home grand prix in Brazil next week as a spectator.

Brazilian GP: Preview Quotes

Lewis Hamilton

“I m really looking forward to this year s Brazilian Grand Prix it will be the first time I ve travelled to Sao Paulo without being in contention for the world championship, and I m actually looking forward to taking in a bit more of the city and relaxing and enjoying the experience of driving on one of the world s greatest racetracks.

“My highlights are Turn One, braking into the long left-hander which bends right and takes you out onto the back straight; Ferra Dura, which is a fast right-hander where you body is squeezed hard into the side of the car, and the main straight: you accelerate hard uphill and you can even hear the crowd and the Brazilian drums playing in the grandstands.

“One of the greatest things about racing at Interlagos is the crowd. There s such a great atmosphere; the fans have so much energy and life. It s a party while you re working, and it s great to see everyone happy.”

Heikki Kovalainen

“The Interlagos circuit is quite a challenging one for the drivers because it s anti-clockwise, which, after a season of racing on clockwise circuits, puts quite a strain on your neck muscles. But you quickly forget that once you get out on the circuit it s an incredible racetrack, really demanding but very satisfying when you get a lap right.

“Interlagos hasn t traditionally been a circuit where we have excelled, but we feel that we ve resolved quite a few of the issues that affected us at this race last year, and using KERS Hybrid particularly up that long hill out of the final corner should be a considerable benefit both in qualifying and the race.”

Robert Kubica:

“Brazil was the season finale in the past years. With Abu Dhabi new on the calendar, the situation is different this year. The Interlagos track is very nice to drive. Especially sector 1 with the first three corners is quite challenging. Turn 1 is blind and therefore it is difficult to find the ideal braking point there. The final sector goes up a huge hill and consists of a couple of left turns.

“In Brazil we drive anti-clockwise, which is physically quite tough as we are used to driving the other way round. If it rains in Interlagos, driving will be very tricky as there is lots of standing water on the track. So I m hoping for good weather.”

Nick Heidfeld:

“Interlagos is a fantastic and very challenging track. Because you drive it in an anti-clockwise direction, it puts a real strain on your neck muscles. The circuit used to be full of horrible bumps. Having it resurfaced before the 2007 Grand Prix made a huge difference, but by 2008 the track wasn t as good. I ll be interested to see what kind of condition it is in now.

“In the last two years we had some exciting championship deciders there, with the weather always ready to tip the scales. There could be a repeat in 2009, even though Brazil isn t the final race this time.

“I m in two minds about São Paulo. The churrascarias are really special, and I guess the city has a great deal to offer. On the other hand you hear about all these muggings year after year, which puts you off any major excursions. I m looking forward to seeing Felipe (Massa) in the paddock again.”

BMW and Kubica part amicably

p90044825-zoomThe BMW Sauber F1 team has thanked Robert Kubica for his services over the last three years after agreeing to terminate his contract early to allow him to join the Renault team in 2010.

Fernando Alonso’s move to Ferrari next year paved the way for Kubica to make the switch to the French team, amid ongoing uncertainty about the future of his current team BMW.

Kubica made his debut with BMW Sauber in 2006 at the Hungarian Grand Prix, going on to secure the team’s maiden victory in 2008 and mounting a serious assault on the world championship.

Team boss Mario Theissen paid tribute to the Pole: “Robert played an important role for us – and certainly we did the same for him.”

“He joined us in 2006 as a test driver with no Formula 1 experience, and then we promoted him to be one of our team’s drivers during that season.

“He never let us down and, with our first pole position in 2008 in Bahrain and first victory the same year in Canada, he set milestones in the history of our team. We are grateful for his strong and constant performances and wish him all the best for his future.”

Kubica thanked the team for giving him the opportunity to compete in Formula One.

“I’m very thankful to those responsible in the BMW Sauber F1 Team for giving me the chance to get a Formula 1 cockpit,” he said.

“I think I justified the belief in me by delivering good results. In 2008 I managed to get the first pole position in Bahrain and the first win in Canada. Both will remain unforgettable moments for me.

“For 2010 I will have a new challenge. I wish everybody I worked with at the BMW Sauber F1 Team all the best for the future. I’m sure in the future our paths will cross in Formula 1.”

Q and A: Jarno Trulli

The Toyota Racing press office speaks to Jarno Trulli after he outraced Lewis Hamilton to second place in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka:

How did it feel to stand on the podium in Panasonic Toyota Racing’s home Grand Prix?
It was a fantastic feeling to stand on the podium and celebrate with all the team and our Japanese fans. My second place was a true reflection of how strong we were at Suzuka because I qualified in that position and there were no retirements at the front; we were genuinely extremely competitive. Japan is always an important race for the team and I personally love visiting the country so it was extra special from that point of view. Everyone in the team has worked so hard this season and to finish on the podium again, after Timo’s second place a week ago in Singapore, was another really good reward for them.

Were you in any way disappointed not to win?
I was hoping to win the race for Toyota, of course, but second place is still a great result. The team and myself pushed to the absolute maximum all weekend and we got the best result possible; I think Red Bull were just a bit too quick for us to win. But I am certainly not disappointed; all the team, including myself, were extremely happy with another podium.

Did the weekend run smoothly in general?
Friday was not a very productive day generally because of the rain. The weather forecast said it would be dry for the rest of the weekend so there was not much to be gained from doing too many laps, which left us with a busy programme on Saturday morning. But right from the start the car felt good and the lap times were consistently very competitive so I was pretty optimistic going into qualifying.

How was qualifying?
It was quite a strange session because of all the red flags, and of course Timo’s accident. The team told me quickly that Timo was okay so it wasn’t a problem to concentrate on the rest of the session after that. Just like in practice we were really quick, although it was hard to judge which tyre compound was the fastest. In the end I used the soft tyres for my fastest laps but there was not much in it. I was happy with my lap in third qualifying even though I missed pole by less than a tenth of a second. It was probably the most I could get out of the car and it gave us a really good chance for another podium.

How was the race?
It was like a long qualifying session! Every lap was flat out and I was pushing right to the limit to get ahead of Lewis (Hamilton). It was hard work but the car felt great and I knew we had the speed to get past. I was just putting the pressure on and never letting up. In the end it paid off thanks to some fast lap times, a great strategy and also two perfect pit stops. Big thanks to the team for their work because it was a fantastic team effort and we got our reward.

Tell us about the start.
The start was a key point in the race. It’s always a battle and I knew the cars around me would be a difficult challenge but we made a good getaway. Going into the first corner I almost held my position but Lewis overtook, which left me chasing him the whole race. I stayed right behind and just kept pushing and pushing like crazy. At the second pit stop it paid off.

Did the safety car at the end cause any concern?
It wasn’t ideal because after I got past Lewis at the second pit stops I had pulled out quite a comfortable gap so there wasn’t any danger. Of course the safety car got rid of that advantage so I had to start all over again but the restart went well so after that I wasn’t concerned.

What about Timo? It was a difficult weekend for him…
Timo had a tough weekend unfortunately. Actually I had a similar cold and fever immediately after Singapore but recovered in time for Suzuka so I knew exactly what he was going through. It was very unfortunate he couldn’t race after his accident in qualifying because I am sure he would have had a great result too. We work really well together and there is a great atmosphere so I know he was cheering me on to the podium. But he will bounce back and we will both be fighting for another positive result in Brazil.

What are your expectations for Brazil?
This season has proved it is difficult to make accurate predictions so it’s hard to say. I am usually very competitive at Interlagos and last year I qualified in second place. It should suit our car and I definitely hope to be fighting at the front again after two consecutive podiums for the team but we’ll have to wait and see how things go in practice.