With the E22 “more enjoyable to drive” Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado are upbeat ahead of the Brazilian GP.
Romain Grosjean: “I can’t wait to go to Brazil because every year we have a fantastic team dinner at a churrascaria where the team who travels around all year can let their hair down a little and share some laughs. It’s been a really tough season – the toughest ever for me and many of the team – so it will be good to enjoy a drink together well before the preparations for the race weekend are underway. I will be raising a caipirinha to everyone in the team in Sao Paulo, then another to everyone back in Enstone too!
“It’s a fantastic track and there’s no part of it that isn’t great. It really suits my driving style so I’m really looking forward to it. Certainly, the E22 is getting more enjoyable to drive and the soft and medium Pirelli tyres – particularly the softs – seemed to work well for us in Texas so there’s good potential.
“It’s a fantastic challenge of a track which never seems to have a part where you relax. Even the main start-finish ‘straight’ isn’t boring as it starts uphill with some interesting camber, then gradually turns before finishing at the downhill turn one, where it’s so easy to out-brake yourself. If I had to pick favourite parts of Interlagos, I would say the first and last corners; the first corner is really technical and punishes you if you get it wrong, and the last corner is so fast and really puts quite a strain on your body. As a driver I really enjoy these corners. It’s an old style track, so very hard to pick out a single element; I’d say everything is pretty good in Interlagos; I love it!”
Pastor Maldonado: “Interlagos may not have the most impressive infrastructure but it is a great, historic circuit. I really love the track, the atmosphere and the people – there will be a lot of Venezuelans there! Hopefully we can have a great race and put on a good show for the South American fans.
“Technically it’s always tricky to find a set-up balance between the twisty parts of the circuit and the long straights. In an ideal world you’d want Monza-spec for the start and end of the lap and Hungaroring-spec for the rest! Different drivers and teams will make different compromises, which all adds up to an interesting race. Some will go for greater straight-line speed to help them pass and defend in the race, others more downforce for a better lap time and less sliding. Bumps can also be an issue and there are several overtaking opportunities on the track which reward late braking, both to go on the attack and keep rivals behind. Last but not least the unpredictable weather is sure to keep us on our toes. There has also been some resurfacing at the track so we’ll have the challenge we are faced with any new surface of understanding the grip levels and how they change over the course of the weekend.
“The tyre allocation will be the same [as Austin] and I would say that Interlagos is a similar kind of track in terms of its characteristics. The temperature could also be similar, which would be another positive factor too. When we get the tyres working and don’t have low speed corners at a circuit we’re capable of pretty decent performance. We’ve seen some epic races in Interlagos where wet weather has been a factor, and thunderstorms are present. We all know the amount of rain which can fall in Sao Paulo and the Interlagos track even has grooves cut into it to help the water flow off the track! It’s a challenging circuit in the dry and even more so in the wet, but there have been some amazing races over the years because of this. Whatever the weather, we’ll be pushing for the best result possible.”
Federico Gastaldi – Lotus deputy team principal: “Interlagos is always a pleasure because the passion of racing runs through the whole place. The close proximity of the city and all the fans makes it a very unique atmosphere. I think there is a really special vibe around the Brazilian Grand Prix. The Latin spirit is apparent everywhere at Interlagos. It’s traditional in the sense that there is natural undulation and a great variety of corners. From the team sense we are always welcomed very warmly here. As a proud South American it gives me a lot of pleasure to showcase our great team to some of the best fans in the world.
“Pastor is looking forward to it because he gets a lot of support for this race. I am sure that he will take the recent positive momentum he has gathered to please these fans in Brazil. It is certainly the type of circuit that Pastor likes to attack and extract the maximum from especially after the positive of points in Austin.”
Nick Chester – Lotus technical director: “The first and second sectors should be okay for us however the third sector, with one corner followed by a climb up hill and on to the straight, will be more challenging. Overall, I don’t think that it will suit us as well as Austin but we won’t know for sure until we’re there and we have some laps under our belt. We have found a bit more in the car but Interlagos might be trickier for us than it has been in the United States. The high altitude might have an impact on the power unit’s performance, although this will be different than in previous years due to the changed aspiration of the engine.
“It is a tricky circuit to find the right set-up. The middle sector is very twisty with a lot of low speed turns and then the final sector is essentially one corner on to a very long straight. The compromise on how to run on downforce is therefore quite challenging. You want to take downforce off for the last sector but then want it on for the other sectors. We tend to rely on where the simulation suggests will be the best compromise and then adapt through the weekend dependent on our speed and sector performance.”