Brazil GP: Preview - BMW


In the run-up to the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship finale, the battles for the drivers' and constructors' titles are still up in the air. Likewise, there is a great deal in the balance for the BMW Sauber F1 Team in this 18th and final grand prix of the season, to be held in Sao Paulo on 22nd October. The young team embarked on its debut season from eighth place and is currently fifth in the constructors' championship with a one-point lead over Toyota. Drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica aim to defend this position at the Brazilian Grand Prix. If they manage that, it would mean a successful conclusion to a maiden season in which the BMW Sauber F1 Team has already achieved far more than could be expected.

Nick Heidfeld: "I always enjoy coming to Sao Paulo. Not only is Interlagos one of my favourite circuits, I also love the flight path into the city. It's incredible to be hovering for minutes on end above those endless housing districts and shanty towns. Unfortunately crime is an issue here, as it is in many of the world's major conurbations. But we drivers don't really get to see any of it.

"Of course my fondest memory is of winning my first podium place here in 2001 with the Sauber Team. It was a difficult race in wet conditions, but everything worked out and in the end I was able to take third place on the podium next to David Coulthard and Michael Schumacher. I would rate the Ferra dura turn as one of the best in the whole racing calendar, although the bumpy surface of the track is not so nice. But they say it was improved last year, when I couldn't race due to injury. I'll have to see for myself, and I hope to round off the season with a successful race."

Robert Kubica: "I know the Sao Paulo track from racing there in 2002 in Formula Renault 2000, as I was invited for the last round of the Brazilian championship. It is a very nice track and I like the configuration, even though it is a bit bumpy. There is a really big uphill section that you cannot see on television after the last corner, which brings you to the main straight. There are some difficult corners, but I think it will be a good experience to go back to Interlagos with Formula One."

Sebastian Vettel: "Carnival, nice girls, good weather, football, magic, rainforest – that's what comes to mind when I think of Brazil. I know a bit about it as I have had Brazilian team-mates. They are great fun. I think the people here are open for anything. Now with Felipe Massa they maybe have another hero coming up.

"I think the circuit is one of the hardest of the whole season because it is very bumpy and old, and you feel every bump in an F1 car because it is very hard. I think for the race it is physically a very tough job to get through 71 laps. Every time the race finishes the drivers look completely shattered. Also in the race itself I remember two years ago seeing Kimi Räikkönen and Fernando Alonso laying their heads against the headrest."

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "We came back from the two Asian races with three points and are heading for Brazil and the final race of the season one point clear of Toyota in the constructors' championship. We will do everything we can to defend this position.

"However, even before the last race of 2006 it is quite clear that we have achieved more than we could have expected in our first season with the BMW run team. In qualifying we made it into the top ten 17 times, and on one occasion even got onto the second row of the grid. In the 17 races so far we have made it into the points 15 times and even taken two podium places – thanks to Nick in Budapest and Robert in Monza. The bottom line is that we are ahead of schedule. But even more important than that is the fact that we have made steady progress during the course of the season. We are on a good path.

"The circuit in Interlagos is very varied and challenging. And then there's the weather, which is often unpredictable in Sao Paulo. The engines take the strain on the start/finish straight, which is not only long but also on a rising gradient – and that makes for an exciting start to the race. A particular feature of the Sao Paulo track is its altitude: due to the low air density, engines lose about eight percent of their power as compared with sea level. I am certain we are going to witness an exciting final to the season."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "In terms of aerodynamics, Interlagos presents a real challenge. While the first and third sectors feature long flat-out sections, the middle sector with its many turns ideally demands maximum downforce. In the end it's a question of finding the optimum compromise. At any rate, high aerodynamic efficiency in the car is crucially important.

"Although the track has been repeatedly resurfaced in parts, it is still quite a mogul field. That's why it's even more crucial here than on other circuits to work out an optimal mechanical set-up. Tyre choice is also difficult because temperatures can fluctuate greatly at this time of year. The rough asphalt means that tyre wear is definitely an issue. The strong likelihood of rain often calls for a compromise set-up to cope with both dry and wet conditions on the circuit. As at Imola and Istanbul, the GP at Interlagos is run in an anti- clockwise direction. That involves a corresponding strain on the drivers' neck muscles."

Article from Pitpass (

Published: 15/10/2006
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