A long, hard season comes to an end for Panasonic Toyota Racing with the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos. After a double points finish in its home race in Japan last time out, the team heads to Sao Paulo for Formula One's only visit to South America. The annual trip to Brazil brings a samba flavour to the paddock and the undulating, bumpy Interlagos circuit, in a suburb of sprawling Sao Paulo, throws up a unique challenge for drivers. In front of some of the most passionate motorsport fans in the world and on one of Formula One's most historic circuits, Toyota hopes to finish the season on a high. After 17 tough races, Toyota has fifth place in the Constructors' Championship in its sights and Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli will be giving their all to end the season on a positive note.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 7): "Interlagos is one of the most demanding tracks on the calendar – both for the drivers and for the technical team. For the drivers it is difficult because of the bumps, even though it is less bumpy than it used to be after they changed the track surface. From the technical side, you need a compromise between achieving the maximum downforce and getting the best top speed. It is important to have as much mechanical grip as possible in the tight infield, particularly in corners such as Pinheirinho and Bico de Pato, but on the other hand, you need a strong top speed for the two long straights, where ideally you would have as little wing as possible. This weekend is the end of a challenging year for us but we have worked hard and improved a lot in the second half of the season. I had a pretty tough race in Brazil last year but I at least managed to get into the top eight. I think we can do the same this year - but I hope this time I can score more than on e point!"
Jarno Trulli (Car 8): "I have always enjoyed the Brazilian Grand Prix. Interlagos is a technically demanding track and I enjoy the mix of low and high speed sections. There are also other aspects which make it quite complicated, for example it is one of only three anti-clockwise tracks on the calendar and that can make it tough on the neck as the race goes on. As far as the car is concerned, the circuit demands a strong engine from Turn 12 to Turn 1 as it is flat-out with a steep uphill climb. But you must also compromise a bit on set-up. You need downforce for the twisty parts but there is only really one overtaking opportunity, into Turn 1, so you have to make sure you don't have too much rear wing and become an easy target on the straight. Last year I had a weekend to forget, losing 10 places on the grid before getting stuck in traffic in the race. I hope to improve on that and, after our strong performance in Japan, end the year with a result for the whole team to celebra te."
Pascal Vasselon – Senior General Manager Chassis: "One of the first things you think about at Interlagos is the bumps - they have made several attempts to get rid of them but they are still there. They particularly affect the car early in the weekend and that seems to be either because the driver needs to get used to them or because their effect is worse with low grip. When the grip increases it is not that much of a problem so the best thing you can do is not to over-react and make too many changes. The flat-out up hill section is quite demanding for engines but overall the demands on the car are pretty standard – the tyres are in the middle of the range and it is average in terms of brakes, aero and engine contribution to lap time. The only exceptional aspect is in the wet because it can rain in hot temperatures and that is really tough for the wet tyres as they run at much higher temperatures than usual. Normally when we go there it is hot and if it rains it is very heavy
but dries very quickly and you can go from extreme weather tyres to dry tyres in just a few laps. Personally, I have good memories of Brazil and, even though you should never be too confident, we should be strong at Interlagos so I am optimistic."