Kimi Raikkonen is eager to end his comeback season with a win while Romain Grosjean is chasing his first…
Q: Looking back to Austin, what are your thoughts on the race?
KR: It was okay but not a very easy one for us
Q: You had a pretty exciting battle with Jenson Button…
KR: Yes it was good and I enjoy that type of racing. Unfortunately, Jenson caught me when it was cloudy and the tyres weren’t working so well, otherwise I’d have put up a better fight and maybe he wouldn’t have got past even though he was on much newer tyres. That’s how it goes. We struggled with the tyres all weekend; we set good times at the start of the race with the softer tyres, but lost the heat with the hards in the middle of the race and then they picked up again at the end.
Q: What are your memories from Interlagos?
KR: There is no doubt about it; the greatest day of my career came at Interlagos when I won the World Championship in 2007 and that means I have very fond memories of this place. All in all it has been good to me. I have finished here every year since 2003 and been on the podium five times. Actually, in 2003 they gave the winners’ trophy to me but afterwards it turned out I only got P2. I have lived some of the best moments of my life at this circuit, and that’s something nobody can take away. That’s why it is one of my favourite places to go back to.
Q: What’s the main challenge of the track?
KR: To do well in São Paulo you need to have a very solid weekend without problems. Obviously, qualifying on the front row is very important as is a good strong all round package. Also, the engine is important for getting up the hill. I think the key factor is once again downforce, but it’s also important to have a stable car under braking. The final corner is very important to get right, because it leads onto the steep main straight.
Q: How do you rate this track?
KR: I like the old fashioned type of circuits. Interlagos is not in the same group as Spa or Suzuka, but it’s challenging and we run the laps anti clock-wise which is different from normal. The atmosphere from the crowds is always very good and you never know how the race will be as the weather changes quickly and often.
Q: Is it nice to reach race twenty in your comeback season without any DNFs?
KR: I like racing, so it’s good to be on track as much as possible; no-one likes ending a race early. Our record shows that the team can build a reliable car and that I know how to drive it. The last round of the season means that it’s the last chance to enjoy that feeling for some time. That’s what a driver loves; to put a helmet on and go racing. Every time I get in the car I want to fight for victory and this is no different; I want to celebrate a good result with the team in Brazil. That would give the best feeling for the winter and also for next season.
Q: Tell us about Interlagos; is it a track you like?
RG: It’s a fantastic track. It’s very, very nice and it suits my driving style so I’m really looking forward to it. The E20 could be very good there too and should suit to the conditions and circuit. Well, let’s hope so!
Q: Is there a specific part of the track you like the most?
RG: Everything! It’s interesting with its ups and downs. If I had to pick favourite parts of Interlagos, I would say the first and last corners; they are very fast and as a driver I really enjoy them! It’s an old style track so very hard to pick out a single element; I’d say everything is pretty good.
Q: Weather is usually quite a talking point in Brazil with the altitude playing a factor; how will you approach the weekend?
RG: To be honest the weather and altitude is not something we can change and therefore we just have to deal with it. We will plan our strategy well and just aim to be in a position to fit the right tyres at the right time. The good news is that Brazil is closer to our normal time zone so jet lag will be less hard to cure when we go back home!
Q: You had a pretty exciting race in the USA last weekend; including overtaking Kimi and Michael Schumacher at the same time!
RG: Yes, and with eight world titles between them it felt pretty good! Kimi had a go at Michael through turn eleven, then had a bad exit whereas I had a good one. Michael pushed Kimi out to the right meaning I could go for the opening on the left. It was not the hardest overtaking manoeuvre of the year, but I was in the right place at the right time and I’m told it looked pretty good on TV. The race itself was good; the car showed strong pace, although there were a couple of frustrations when I got stuck behind a Force India and then spun on lap seven.
Q: A gearbox change put you back five places on the grid; how frustrating was that?
RG: Strangely enough I was not actually that frustrated; we were working well and managed to recover. It is what it is; we just focused on qualifying and trying to get back to the level we were achieving earlier in the season… and it worked.
Q: Do you think things would have been very different if you hadn’t spun?
RG: It was not exactly what we’d want. It was hard after the spin coming back through the pack, but I knew it was possible to do it. We had to set a good pace but also take care of everything on the car; including the tyres to try not to finish on the rims! It worked and I think we made another good improvement in Austin. We should hopefully take our qualifying and race pace to Brazil.
Q: You didn’t look to be driving as someone who is worried about every possible incident…
RG: I’ve learnt that you can over-compensate by trying to avoid any potential incident. We’re all racers on track so that’s what you do. I don’t want the reputation of being an easy touch and I’m certainly not an open door on track; I’ll fight for every position. I’ve left a memo: I won’t leave the door open, and I’m looking to race.