Pierre Gasly says he is eager to break into the points this weekend at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace after failing to finish inside the top ten in either of his two previous visits to the circuit.
The Scuderia Toro Rosso driver finished twelfth in what was only his third Grand Prix back in 2017 but could only muster thirteenth this time last year, but after some strong performances of late, the Frenchman is aiming for a place inside the top ten on Sunday afternoon.
Gasly slipped to eighth in the Drivers’ Championship after failing to score points in the United States Grand Prix last time out, but since his return to Toro Rosso, he has four top ten finishes to his name, something he wants to build on this weekend.
“This will be my third time racing at Interlagos and so far I’ve not finished in the points, so that is the first target for the weekend,” said Gasly. “Brazil has an iconic role in Formula 1 and when I was little and even today, my idol is Ayrton Senna.
“So, going to Brazil is always great as there is such a culture of Formula 1 in this country.”
The track is the third shortest on the Formula 1 calendar, behind only Monaco and Mexico, but Gasly says he enjoys the circuit, and anything can happen there if the weather is as unpredictable as it has been in the past, something he feels they can take advantage of.
“The track itself is actually quite nice, even if it’s short,” admits the Frenchman. “It features a lot of technically demanding corners and it can be quite a crazy weekend, as we have seen many times in the past because the weather can make life very unpredictable. That makes it especially exciting.
“This is one of only two more opportunities to go racing this year, so of course I am looking forward to it very much. The track runs anti-clockwise and although we all do a lot of training these days, it is one of the toughest circuits in terms of putting a strain on your neck because none of the straights are actually straight!
“You are always feeling G-forces and during the race it gets quite physical, especially in long corners like 3, 4 and 5 where it never stops turning. Now we are going much faster than we have ever gone before in Formula 1 so the minimum G force is much higher than in the past, which makes it more challenging… but we are well prepared.”
Gasly acknowledges the facilities at Interlagos are not as up-to-date as they are on other tracks around the world, but this gives the circuit its own character, something he feels would differ if they were to update them.
“The facilities are a bit more basic than at some of the more modern circuits, but this is part of what gives Interlagos its character and it would feel strange if they changed it,” said Gasly. “Once you get on track, you feel a bit like you’re in an arena, which is a nice feeling.
“If we get a good result, my trainer will let me have a couple of caipirinhas on Sunday, so that’s an extra incentive to do well!“
Team-mate Daniil Kvyat says coming to Brazil feels like another home race for him as he is currently dating Kelly Piquet, the daughter of three-time Formula 1 World Champion Nelson Piquet, and as such he has spent some time ahead of the event with the extended family.
“I like coming to Brazil as it is now another event that I can consider as a sort of home race because my partner is Brazilian,” said Kvyat. “After a quick stop in Japan for the Honda Thanks Day, I came straight to Brazil and spent some time with the family, I’m hoping to stay on for a few days after the race as well.
“Brazilians are very easy going, chilled, the weather is generally nice and there’s plenty of good food and the people seem to enjoy life. My Portuguese is improving and I understand quite a bit, as I speak Spanish.”
Kvyat feels there is chances to overtake at Interlagos despite it being an old-school track, and there are some incredible corners to attack, such as the first turn that he says is much steeper than it appears to be on television.
“As for Interlagos, it’s a cool old-school track, but wide enough to allow for some overtaking,” said the Russian. “There are some incredible corners such as the banked Turn 1 which is much steeper than it looks on television. It’s a good overtaking opportunity and usually, there is plenty of exciting action there.
“The middle section is more twisty, but with a couple of high-speed corners as well. Then there’s the short straight where you can follow other cars and try and pass, although in a modern Formula 1 car, no section of this track is really a straight and you are always turning.
“Even with all the training we do, you feel the lateral forces on your neck here with the track running anti-clockwise. It’s not a problem but it is challenging. The weather can also play its part and mix things up a bit and it can go either way, maybe providing an opportunity or just being an extra risk to deal with.”
Kvyat is hoping that lightning does not strike three times in a row in Brazil after losing top ten results in both the Mexican and United States Grand Prix thanks to post race penalties after last lap contact. He spun Nico Hülkenberg around in Mexico before clashing with Sergio Pérez in the United States.
“At the last two rounds, I crossed the finish line in the top ten, but then lost the points on a technicality, so I am very keen to get a good result for myself and the team this weekend,” said Kvyat. “It’s crazy that we now have just two more races this year.
“The season has been a long one, but it’s gone by very fast.“