Brazil 2018 - GP Preview - Renault F1
Brazil has a great passion for motorsport and especially Formula 1. Many great racing names have come from Brazil, it has some fantastic tracks and there is always a great atmosphere when we arrive in São Paulo. Brazil is also an important market for Renault so we will have a lot of activities over the weekend, including an exciting presentation at the São Paulo motorshow.
We enter race week off the back of a very promising result in Mexico. We’re at a point in the season where we know the car very well and, like every team, have minimal upgrades. This puts the focus on meticulous preparation across chassis and power unit and the strategy throughout the weekend. In Mexico we executed our plan perfectly and were in full control from qualifying to Sunday.
The results obtained in Mexico give us a boost for the remaining two races of the season.
Finally, on Friday morning we received news that the International Court of Appeal (ICA) upheld Haas’ disqualification from the Italian Grand Prix in September. We are satisfied with the decision.
After another solid weekend in Mexico, the team heads to Brazil for the twentieth Grand Prix of the 2018 Formula 1 season. Executive Director Marcin Budkowski outlines the challenges of Interlagos.
How would you evaluate the team’s performances at the last two races?
We enjoyed two good results in the United States and Mexico, and certainly it could have been even better had we not suffered a retirement in Mexico. Both circuits suited our package a lot better than some of the previous races and we’ve worked hard to further our understanding of the R.S.18 and extract the maximum performance out of it.
What’s there to say about the team’s prospects at Interlagos?
Interlagos is located at a lot less altitude than Mexico, even though it’s still one of the highest on the calendar at almost 800m. The effects on the power unit and on the various cooling systems are not anywhere close to the levels of Mexico. Interlagos has a mixture of corners, ranging from low to high-speed. In comparison to the last two races, Interlagos may be less suited to our package, but nevertheless we head there expecting to be competitive.
Why is Brazil such a special Grand Prix weekend?
It’s always pleasant to go to a country and a circuit where people are passionate. Brazil is exceptional for its atmosphere. It’s a destination where you feel the passion and the fan support both for Formula 1 and for the team. Brazil is also a key market for Renault.
Nico Hülkenberg cruised to his second sixth place finish in as many races, as he begins to tighten his grip on seventh position in the Drivers’ Championship. Now the German heads to Interlagos, a circuit which has brought him some special memories in his Formula 1 career so far.
Why is the Brazilian Grand Prix so special?
The Brazilian Grand Prix is probably my favourite race on the calendar. São Paulo has a really cool vibe about it, crazy in a way, but that’s what I like about the place. Interlagos is situated in a town that is mad about motorsport, in a motorsport mad country with motorsport mad supporters, so it has all the right ingredients for a memorable race weekend.
What’s there to say about the legendary Interlagos?
Interlagos is a circuit which carries so much history. There have been so many world championship titles decided in Interlagos, as well as a lot of other prominent Formula 1 moments. You feel all the emotions on a lap of the circuit and that’s why I find it so special. Maybe that’s why I seem to go well there!
It’s a short lap, but busy behind the wheel with a lot of challenges to get through. It’s anti-clockwise, tough on the neck and quite physical on the rest of the body, as it’s bumpy in places. Confidence is key, especially through the middle sector as you can make up a lot of time through there.
What memories do you have from the Brazilian Grand Prix?
From a personal point of view, Interlagos is the place of some special memories for me. The standout is definitely my pole position lap in 2010 as a rookie. That was awesome and one of those sessions where everything clicked and we nailed the perfect lap in changing conditions. That’s something I will never forget. In 2012, I led the Brazilian Grand Prix for 30 laps, and, when I reflect on that, I was unlucky to miss out on the podium. I also led the race in 2014 for a short amount of time. It’s a circuit where I seem to score good results, so I’ll be out to keep that record up again this year.
With another sixth place in the bag, what’s there to say about Mexico?
You always try to get the best from what you have and we’ve now had two very good weekends back-to-back. It was a very positive Grand Prix for us. The race was straightforward, managing the tyres and making sure the one-stop worked. I had a comfortable gap after Carlos retired so it was steady away from there to ensure the team took home some important points. We know the next two races will be challenging, but Brazil is always fun so I’m looking forward to getting out there and solidifying both my seventh place in the Drivers’ Championship and contributing to the team’s target of fourth place in the Constructors’.
After a premature end to the Mexican Grand Prix, Carlos Sainz is chomping at the bit for Interlagos as he targets a return to the points to contribute to the team’s quest of sealing fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship.
How would you describe the Brazilian Grand Prix?
Interlagos is all about the history, and I really enjoy racing at these old, legendary circuits. The Brazilian Grand Prix is the location of a lot of famous Formula 1 stories and drivers, including, of course, Ayrton Senna, and that makes the weekend even more special. In terms of the culture, it’s bright and loud, kind of like Mexico last time out, but different in its own unique way. The food in Brazil is also one of my favourites; I’m a big fan of meat dishes and São Paulo is very good for these types of restaurants.
What’s the secret to a fast lap-time around Interlagos?
The track is quite challenging with a number of elevation changes and a variety of cambers in the corners. It feels like a rollercoaster ride! The in-field bit is tough as it’s twisty with a couple of blind and sharp turns where it can be easy to lock the inside wheel. You have to get into a rhythm around the circuit and try not to compromise any corners as that hampers you for next the turn. The Grandstands are always packed-out there, but the atmosphere feels more like a football match than a Formula 1 race, it’s always so loud!
Are you hoping for some wet weather next weekend?
Interlagos is synonymous with unpredictable weather. There are usually a couple of surprises year on year. It can be hot and dry and then suddenly the torrential rain will pour in. I remember a couple of years ago, we were fifteenth on the grid, but it rained on race day and suddenly we were in amongst it and we managed a solid sixth place finish. Adapting quickly to the conditions is a good skill to have in Brazil, so we’ll see what happens! Maybe rain would be a good thing.
What’s the post-Mexico feeling?
It was a real pity. Having to retire after 28 laps while leading the midfield and losing eight valuable points is always frustrating. It was fun to make up some places on lap one – even getting ahead of a Ferrari – but it was disappointing for it to end like it did, mainly because it would have been an even stronger result for the team if both cars had finished in the points. We dust ourselves down quickly, though, and move on as we’re certain we can be in the mix again in Brazil. I have two races left in the black and yellow, so of course, I’d like to leave with two positive results.
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