McLaren Honda head to this weekend’s penultimate race of the 2017 Formula One season, the Brazilian Grand Prix at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo off the back of a points finish for Fernando Alonso.
The Spaniard finished the Mexican Grand Prix two weeks ago in 10th place and the double champion is hoping for another strong result in Brazil this weekend.
Interlagos is one of the great ‘classic’ tracks on the calendar, with an incredible history and a long list of famous names that have lifted the trophy. It’s also one of the most dramatic grands prix of the year – there are always incidents and action and the weather plays a big part in the outcome.
“This circuit should suit our car better than the last couple of tracks, so we hope we can give ourselves the best chance in qualifying as starting position is very important in a race where a lot can happen. It’s a really fun track – a short lap with a good flow, and the new cars this year will make it feel even faster. During the race, if you can get a good rhythm through the final corner it really helps down the start-finish straight and into Turn One, and then you can attack the first corner going into the next lap. It’s part of what makes this circuit so exciting.
“After the USA and Mexico, we’re looking ahead to Brazil and Abu Dhabi with a bit more expectation as we knew those tracks would be really difficult for us. However, Mexico was definitely a surprise and we performed better than we anticipated. This will surely be a tricky race and there are always risks to take with the weather and strategy, but if we can start the race from where we should be in qualifying, it could give us a good chance to score some points.
Stoffel Vandoorne will be hoping for a strong result after just missing out on a points scoring position having finished the Mexican Grand Prix in 12th place and speaking ahead of the race this weekend, the Belgian commented by saying:
I’m looking forward to tackling another new circuit next weekend in Brazil, especially one that is considered so legendary among the fans and the other drivers. Interlagos is the place where championships have been won and lost, and classic grands prix have taken place with great names like Senna and Prost winning some of F1’s most famous races.
“Like every circuit we race on, I put in a lot of preparation with my engineers in the simulator, so by the time we head out onto the track on Friday morning I feel completely ready to tackle it and already comfortable with the layout and set-up the circuit requires. This means that, like Fernando, I can spend FP1 dialling-in the car to the track and conditions and give valuable feedback to the team so they can gather as much as information as possible.
“Qualifying at Interlagos is always important because you never know what can happen in the race. In Mexico I had a great start, so if we can start further up the grid in Brazil – providing we can avoid more penalties – it’ll open up good opportunities in the race. It’s important to stay out of trouble and have a clean race and then we can see what we can do from there. There’s everything to play for and I’m excited to experience the famous atmosphere at Interlagos thanks to the enthusiastic Brazilian fans.
It has been an extremely busy start to the week for the Woking based outfit having announced an extension to their partnership with SAP and confirming Lando Norris as their test and reserve driver for the 2018 season.
McLaren are currently in ninth place in the Constructors Championship on 24 points and speaking ahead of the race this weekend, McLaren Racing Director, Eric Boullier commented by saying:
As we enter the penultimate race weekend of the season, Interlagos is always a fantastic venue to visit and the scene of a number of dramatic and poignant grands prix for McLaren. The undulating nature of the circuit is one of the most famous configurations on the calendar, and provides a real test for not only the car and driver but also the whole team.
“It’s one of a few races of the season where anything can happen – and often does – and can mean a challenging weekend for our mechanics, engineers and strategists alike, because of the drama the weather conditions often create on this unforgiving circuit. The difference between a solid points-scoring result and not is often the number of gambles the teams of strategists up and down the pitlane have to take depending on the given weather situation, which makes it one of the most exciting race weekends on the calendar.
“For McLaren, we’re heading into the weekend with cautious optimism as we know that statistically this circuit should suit the strengths of our package better than the past couple of venues we’ve visited. Both of our drivers are well prepared for the weekend ahead and the whole team is looking forward to the legendary welcome we always receive from the incredible Brazilian crowds. I hope we can contribute to the great show the enthusiastic fans have come to expect there each year and end the weekend with a positive result.
Honda head into their penultimate race with McLaren before switching to Toro Rosso for the 2018 season, speaking about this weekend’s race in Brazil, Honda R&D Co LTD Head of F1 Project and Executive Chief Engineer, Yusuke Hasegawa commented by saying:
After ending busy back-to-back races in the USA and Mexico, we’re now heading to Brazil and the penultimate race of the season.
“Last time out in Mexico ended with a positive atmosphere in the team after Fernando snatched an all-important championship point. We’re now looking to maintain that momentum as we head to Interlagos.
“The legendary Autódromo José Carlos Pace is a relatively short, albeit challenging, track. It is highly technical with a variety of swooping corners and elevation changes, and overtaking is notoriously tricky. PU set-up will be key to ensuring good driveability throughout the lap.
“Brazil will always be a special place for Honda due to our great history with Ayrton Senna. We receive a warm welcome from the fans every time we go there, and hopefully we can show them a good race.