Panasonic Toyota Racing comes to the end of a difficult season at Interlagos this weekend with the Brazilian Grand Prix, the 17th and final race of 2007. As well as the end of the season, this weekend also marks the end of an era at Panasonic Toyota Racing as it is Ralf Schumacher’s last Grand Prix with the team. Ralf joined in 2005 and went on to score three podium finishes, one pole position and 70 points, as well as making a valuable technical and personal contribution. Both Ralf and team-mate Jarno Trulli are determined to end the season on a positive note at Interlagos, the atmospheric autodrome in the Sao Paulo suburbs. The historic track runs anti-clockwise for 4.309kms and 15 turns, including the ultra-fast, banked final corner. But the most famous characteristic of Interlagos is the bumpy track surface, which demands special attention when setting up the car. The team will use a similar specification car to that which raced in China and Japan and is determined to ach ieve a better result in the season-finale.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 11): "I am coming to the end of my time at Toyota after three seasons. It has been an enjoyable and interesting time in my career, even if I would like to have had better results. It has been a hard season for me and the team but I am really motivated to get a good result in Brazil so we can end on a high note. I enjoy racing at Interlagos but it is a very demanding circuit. For the drivers it is a challenge because of the bumps, but from a technical side it is interesting as it is important to have mechanical grip in the tight infield, particularly from turn 8 to turn 11, but there is also a long flat-out section through the final corners and onto the main straight. We will work hard to find the best set-up to deal with this, as well as the bumps, when practice starts on Friday. After two troubled races in Japan and China, I hope we can bounce back in Brazil."
Jarno Trulli (Car 12): "I enjoy the challenge of racing at Interlagos so I am looking forward to this race. It is one of the trickiest tracks in Formula 1, with an enjoyable mix of high and low speed corners. But there are other factors as well to consider, for example the track is anti-clockwise so it puts extra strain on your neck, although I have trained for this so it will not be a problem. And then there are the bumps, which make life difficult with set-up, particularly on a Friday. It’s been a really hard few races for me and the team so I am keen to end the season with an improved result before we focus all our energies on 2008. We have the potential to score points but we have to push hard and not make any mistakes."
Pascal Vasselon – Senior General Manager Chassis: "We enjoy going to Interlagos because in Brazil there just seems to be more fans than virtually anywhere else – they have a true passion for motorsport. The circuit itself is unique in that it is probably the only track where suspension settings are so important. Normally the main performance factors on an F1 car are aerodynamics and tyre usage. At Interlagos it is still about tyre usage but suspension settings are clearly a major performance factor due to the bumpy nature of the track. You have to find a way to keep your wheels on the ground and so set-up parameters that are secondary everywhere else become key in Brazil. An interesting thing about going to Sao Paulo in 2007 is the tyre choice. Bridgestone has proposed the two softest compounds – the Monaco compounds. But in terms of tyre severity, Interlagos is much harder than Monaco so one of the challenges will be tyre management and we expect the track to be tough on the softer tyre in particular."
For a more detailed Q+A with Pascal Vasselon, please visit www.toyota-f1-world.com.