Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace plays hosts to the 32nd Brazilian Grand Prix - the third round of this year's FIA Formula 1 World Championship - this weekend. The event holds personal value for the Panasonic Toyota Racing drivers. It will be the debut home Grand Prix for Cristiano da Matta, whilst Olivier Panis's ninth Brazilian GP marks a return to the scene of his F1 debut back in 1994. The team aims to once again demonstrate the clear speed of the TF103 but hopes to see both cars cross the finish line for the first time this season, ideally in a points-scoring position.
Team Review: Panasonic Toyota Racing has just completed a successful 4-day test in Barcelona with Panis and Da Matta and a concurrent 3-day test at Paul Ricard with Brazilian Ricardo Zonta, preparing for the race and working on the fuel pressure problem that has blighted the first two GPs of the year. The team is hopeful that the problem has now been cured and is seeking reliability in Interlagos.
The Weekend Ahead: This weekend's race will be the 14th consecutive Brazilian GP to be held at the 4.309-kilometre Interlagos track. After Monaco and Indianapolis, it is the shortest lap of the year and the circuit unusually runs in an anti-clockwise direction. The track itself is extremely bumpy with low grip levels and a combination of fast and slow corners interconnected by some long straights. Cars will not necessarily need to run maximum downforce, but engine power is particularly important on uphill sections of the circuit.
Ove Andersson, Team Principal: "I believe we have shown great potential in the first two races of the season in Australia and Malaysia and I think we can still be carefully confident to pick up championship points in Brazil. We should be sure now that the fuel pressure problem that has hindered us so far has been detected and properly counter-measured, so we can be hopeful for a good result in Interlagos. This will be the first track that Cristiano has prior knowledge of and it will be his home grand prix, so I am looking forward to a strong performance from him in front of his home fans."
The Driving Line
Olivier Panis: "Brazil is quite a good circuit, I really like it. It is normally a fun race and Interlagos is a good circuit for overtaking. We need to have a good balance coming out of the last hairpin, because if you have a good exit you can follow the car in front and have a chance to overtake. It is one of the areas I work on most when setting up the car. I made my F1 debut here in '94 and I have had some good results over the years. We were not able to capitalise on a positive showing in Malaysia two weeks' ago and I think it is about time for us to get the points we deserve."
Cristiano da Matta: "I am already in Brazil having flown directly from my two-day test in Barcelona. It has been three months since I am back and it's nice to see my family, who will also be cheering me on at the GP. In 1999 and 2000 we had a CART race in Brazil, and it's always a special feeling to race in front of your home fans. This time will probably be even more special because it will be my first F1 race there. It will be the first time this season that I can race on a track I already know and I will do my best to take full advantage of it. I really don't want to set any expectations for the race, but I will do my best for the whole team, the Brazilian fans and of course my family."
2002 Flashback: The team celebrated a second world championship point at last year's Brazilian event after a sixth-place finish. The second TF102 retired from the race on lap 40 of 71. Qualifying saw a second consecutive top ten grid slot for the team with the TF102s lining up in P10 and P16 of the 22 starters.