Panasonic Toyota Racing makes a trans-Atlantic trip this week for the penultimate round of the 2009 season, the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos; the only Grand Prix of the season in the Americas. There will be a different driver in the car with Kamui Kobayashi replacing Timo Glock, who is suffering from a cracked vertebra sustained in his qualifying accident at Suzuka. The team arrives in Sao Paulo on the back of consecutive second place finishes and in the midst of a battle for third place in the Constructors' Championship. Jarno Trulli's second place at Suzuka equalled the team's record, from 2005, of five podiums in a season and the target this weekend will be to set a new mark and close the 12.5-point gap to third place. Toyota has enjoyed competitive performances at Interlagos and has scored points in three of the last four Brazilian races, including Timo Glock's sixth place last year, while Jarno has qualified in the top three on two of the last three occasions.
Jarno Trulli: "This season has flown by so quickly; it's hard to believe we are already at the penultimate race of the year! It's always enjoyable to be racing in Brazil, and particularly at Interlagos which is a tough circuit. The track is quite unusual because it is anti-clockwise, but also because half of it is extremely fast and the other half is very technical, so you need to compromise to find the right set-up. Toyota has usually been quite strong at Interlagos and I've generally been very quick there too so I'm hopeful that will be the case again this year. It was fantastic to be on the podium in the last race, especially in front of all our Japanese supporters, and I hope to be fighting at the front again this weekend. Last year I was on the front row in Brazil and I believe this year's car will also be quite well suited to the track so I am optimistic. I am determined to end the season as we started it; on a high note."
Kamui Kobayashi: "This is an incredible opportunity for me to make my Grand Prix debut but of course it is a pity for Timo as I know how much he was looking forward to getting back to racing. Fortunately for me I had some time in the car on Friday in Suzuka and, even though that was in the wet, it will be very helpful for me this weekend. I have never driven at Interlagos before but I know the lay-out from computer games and television so I don't think it will take too long to learn. It's going to be a tough weekend but I feel ready for the challenge and I know the team is supporting me 100%. A few days ago I wasn't even expecting to be racing this weekend so it's impossible to set any targets. I just want to do myself proud and complete the race without any problems; anything after that is a bonus."
Pascal Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis: "After the most recent work, Interlagos is now no bumpier than any other track so what we are left with is a very interesting lay-out which presents quite a challenge, with low, medium and high-speed corners as well as a long straight. This means you have to compromise in terms of downforce and drag level to get strong performance on the infield and give yourself a chance to pass at the end of the start-finish straight. We have always been quick in Brazil so we expect to be very competitive. In terms of aerodynamic efficiency Interlagos is close to the baseline configuration we run in the wind tunnel so our car is very well optimized to this kind of track. We go into the Brazilian Grand Prix after finishing on the podium in the last two races so we have high expectations and I am confident we will be strong."