The 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship will reach its conclusion on Sunday asthis season’s battle for the title is fought out at Brazil’s Interlagos circuit. Located on theoutskirts of Sao Paulo, the Carlos Pace Autodromo has provided the venue for over aquarter of a century of Grand Prix racing since its introduction onto the calendar in 1973and in recent years has staged some of the most dramatic Championship deciders onits 4.3km, anti-clockwise track.
As the majority of Championship positions within the Drivers’ and Constructors’ tables are still undecided following the Chinese Grand Prix, so this year’s race will be no different. Tailing its closest rivals by just three points, the AT&T Williams team travel to Brazil with a clear objective of improving their final standing in the Constructors’ Championship.
Interlagos is a really fun track to drive as it has a bit of everything – gradient changes, acomplete mix of corners and it runs in an anti-clockwise direction which presents adifferent challenge for the drivers. We had a strong race there last year and I finishedfourth. As we haven’t had a great showing in the past two races, it would be nice to dowell again here and end the season on a positive note. It’s going to be difficult with thisyear’s harder tyres, and we’ll have to cover a lot of ground with the car on Friday to getto the optimum set-up.
After the long trip to Asia, I’ve spent the past week in New York training and spendingtime with my girlfriend who’s over there working at the moment. As the Big Apple is in asimilar time zone to Sao Paulo, and I'm now over any jet-lag after the trip to Asia, I’m ina good position going to Brazil later this week. It will be busy for me as I have severalsponsor commitments to cover before the race weekend routines start, but I'm ready forthe final round!
Kazuki NakajimaThis race marks my first anniversary in Formula One and I can’t believe how quickly it’sgone! I’ve certainly learnt a lot and I’ll be using that experience in Brazil this weekend.This race will be easier than some of the others this season because I actually haveexperience of racing at Interlagos. Our car worked well in Brazil last year, and I hopethat’s the case on Sunday and we have a better race than we did in Japan and China.The track itself is fairly challenging, but it’s really exciting to drive.
I headed straight back to the UK after Shanghai so I’ve had the chance to spend sometime at home and also to do some work with my engineers at the factory in preparationfor this weekend’s race. It was a busy time for me in Asia with lots of marketingcommitments so the break was nice!ഊSam Michael, Technical Director, Williams F1Interlagos is positioned at a high altitude and has ambient air pressures around 930mbarwhich causes an 8% reduction in downforce, drag and engine power compared to whenwe race at circuits at sea level. The track’s undulating layout consists of mainly slowspeed corners, but it does have a couple of high speed turns that are taken at either fullthrottle, or just before braking for a slow speed corner, so their effect on lap time isn’tsignificant.
There are some good overtaking opportunities around the lap, particularly at turns oneand four. The grid here is traditionally very tight due to the low fuel penalty and short laptime, so the midfield will probably be even closer than usual. Most teams will go for a oneor two stop strategy and Bridgestone will supply the medium and soft tyre compounds,both options will be strong in the race. We’ve put in some good performances in Brazilover the years, last year’s race being no exception. This weekend, we’ll be looking toclose 2008 with a good result.
Interlagos Circuit, BrazilThe 71 lap Brazilian Grand Prix will be a true test of durability, heightened by the factthat the race is run in an anti-clockwise direction. The 4.3km circuit consists of 15medium and slow speed corners, ten left and five right, and has a blend of long, faststraights and gradient changes. With such a varied layout, set-up compromises areinevitable, and the challenge lies in achieving optimal aerodynamic efficiency around thelap.
Interlagos is a notoriously bumpy circuit, so not only is it draining on the drivers, but thecars must have a good mechanical balance for driveability. Combined with the bumps,the track is also particularly abrasive, so harder compound tyres must be selected toensure their survival. Engines are also under pressure in Brazil, with the long straightsdemanding extensive periods at full throttle and high revs, while the high altitude andthinning air saps approximately 8% of overall power around the lap. Plenty of overtakingopportunities, combined with the area’s unpredictable weather conditions, will onlyenhance what is due to be a tense season finale in Brazil.