Interlagos… So many championships have been decided here, some won, some lost at the last corner… even with the recent emergence of brand new high-tech tracks with amazing paddock facilities, one-of-a-kind Interlagos definitely IS the best place to conclude a season on a high. Even though the 2011 season didn’t wait the last race to pick its champions, everyone arrived in Brazil with the firm intention to make it count.
From the team’s perspective, it was all about concluding 2011 on the same good trend we’d been carrying for the last few races of the season, with good top 6 finishes. Friday’s two sessions went well for the team, with Nico and Michael managing to complete 137 laps, just five laps short of two race distances.
The times were good, not far away from the pace setters, even though both Michael and Nico reported tricky and slippery conditions. It is fair to say that the team entered the final qualifying session of the year on Saturday with reasonable confidence…
After a productive day of work on car balance on Friday, Nico had a good qualifying session on Saturday. After a straightforward Q1, Nico only went out for 3 laps in Q2, enough to post the second fastest lap of the session with his 1.12.569, only 0.123s away from Vettel’s fastest lap of Q2. Everyone was therefore quite optimistic when the green light marked the start of Q3. Nico did a used tyre run, completed two laps to warm the tyres, then a new-tyre run.
Sadly Nico didn’t manage to warm his tyres enough and ended up with the seventh fastest time (he still managed to improve his first sector but not his second…) Even though he felt more was possible, Nico felt he “accomplished his mission” by beating one of the Ferraris, and even managed to save a set of option tyres for the race.
A big question mark which also emerged on Sunday morning was rain, as showers were floating around the track, getting closer and bigger on the radars before deciding to go away. High-tech equipment or not, “It will rain at some point…” was the best guess all forecasts could give a few minutes before the formation lap!
Sadly for Nico, his race start didn’t go as well as his qualifying session, as he lost a place to Massa off the line. Running between the Brazilian driver and the Force India of Adrian Sutil, Nico tried to stay close to the leading train but sadly for him, his tyres were already overheating in the first part of the race, as temperatures were higher than anticipated.
Nico also suffered from oversteer, fighting with the balance of his car. “Try to manage your tyres” is a sentence drivers hate to hear over the radio while trying to race as quick as possible but that’s exactly what Nico had to do during most of his afternoon…
Nico pitted on lap 16 for a new set of options, but the team realising that the Force India of the three-stopper Adrian Sutil was really quick, put Nico on a two-stop strategy in a effort to beat his compatriot. The two drivers had a nice fight for few laps, Nico managing to find the few extra meters he needed at the end of the straight line on lap 40 to stay ahead, but Sutil managed to find a way past on lap 41…
Nico stopped again on lap 42 and from there, it again ended-up to be a “tyre management” final stint for him. Nico was ahead of Sutil after his final stop but again, and despite Nico’s best efforts, the Force India driver managed to overtake him. All in all, a disappointing result for Nico who approached the race confident of taking the fight to a least one of the Ferraris.
Once again this year, Michael went for a more “strategic” qualifying session on Saturday. For a reason the team took some time on Saturday evening to investigate, Michael realised quite quickly in Q1 that we wouldn’t be able to match his time from the last practice session in the morning.
After he flat-spotted a set in Q1, Michael decided not to run in Q3, saving a fresh set for the following day and starting from tenth place on the grid.
Pretty rare fact – Michael actually lost a place during the first lap of the race! Although Michael had made up ground off the line, he got hung out to dry on the kerb at the outside of turn two, and Di Resta managed to overtake him. But by lap two, Michael had regained his position and started to get closer and closer to Bruno Senna in ninth place, thanks to a good and consistent pace. Michael actually tried to overtake the Lotus-Renault driver at the start of lap 10 in turn one, but the attempt sadly ended-up in contact between the two drivers…
A typical race incident, probably caused by what Michael described as a “lack of experience” on Senna’s side. But no hard feelings for Michael – “those things happen” as he put it after the race. Nevertheless, the contact resulted in a non-scheduled stop for Michael, which pretty much ruined his race as he re-emerged last on lap 11…
From there, Michael fought as hard as possible, hoping for rain… but it never came. Most of Michael’s race was spent working on the car’s balance, affected by the impact, and thanks to good communication between Michael and the pitwall, it got sorted for the final stint.
Despite good pace (he finished with the 5th fastest lap of the race, 1.16.681), Michael didn’t manage to make it back into the points and finished in 15th place… Not the best way to conclude his season, but no doubt Michael will do everything in his power to start the new one in better fashion!
From the team’s point of view, all pitstops were once again well executed, with three of four clean pit stops all under 21 seconds. Our team ended-up being the fastest average of the weekend… and of the whole season. Well done lads.
The 2011 season might be over but as usual in the busy world of Formula One, it is more a case of “no rest for the wicked” rather than anything else. All heads are now 100% turned to 2012, and the team will have a busy winter ahead to make up the gap to the top teams.
Our aim never changed – we want, need and will be up there fighting for podiums on a regular basis. That’s where we need to be, and that’s what you guys, our fans, deserve.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continuous support this year on the website, Facebook, Twitter and at the races. You all, all around the world, make it possible and you will be the first ones we share our future successes with.
We will keep you updated on our progresses during the winter, keep an eye on this page and on our social media channels. In the meantime, be well, enjoy the holidays, and we’ll see you very soon!