Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi, driving the #8 TS040 HYBRID, already won the drivers’ World Championship at the penultimate race in Bahrain just over a week ago and the team stands on the brink of an historic triumph.
TOYOTA, seeking to become the first Japanese winners of the World Endurance Championship in any of its guises since its inception in 1953, leads the manufacturers’ World Championship by 40 points with a maximum of 44 available in Brazil.
Kazuki Nakajima was scheduled to return to the cockpit of the #7 TS040 HYBRID, having missed the Bahrain round due to his Super GT commitments. However, due to difficulties to obtain the correct working visa, which are out of TOYOTA Racing’s control, Kazuki is unable to participate in Sao Paulo.
In his absence, Alex Wurz and Stéphane Sarrazin will again be partnered by Mike Conway. The trio won the Bahrain race together in #7, making it three consecutive race wins for the team and five out of seven races this season.
Interlagos has already been the scene of celebrations for TOYOTA Racing in the recent past. The #7 took the team’s maiden pole position and victory there in 2012, in just its third race. However, chances of a repeat last year were dashed early in the race when the #8 was hit by an LMP2 car and forced to retire.
Action at Interlagos begins on Friday with the first official practice sessions (13.00-14.30 and 17.30-19.00) while Saturday sees final practice (10.00-11.00) and qualifying (15.20-15.45). The six-hour race starts on Sunday at 13.00.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “Our task in Brazil is clear; we want to win the manufacturers’ World Championship. We are in a very strong position in the standings but until the chequered flag falls in Brazil, we cannot take anything for granted. Interlagos is a track which has suited us well in the past and I have particularly happy memories of winning our first race there two years ago. I hope we can enjoy some more celebrations on Sunday night but before we think about that, we will be giving everything, as usual, to perform strongly again in the race.”
Alex Wurz (TS040 HYBRID #7): “Sao Paulo is a very cool track as it’s a bit old school. Obviously there is a lot of history there and the Brazilian fans always create a special atmosphere. Like many drivers, I love this track. This year specifically it will be very interesting because the track has been resurfaced. We saw in Formula 1 that the grip level has increased so there are very different factors to consider for the tyres compared to last year. It will be interesting who reacts fastest and smartest to these changes.”
Stéphane Sarrazin (TS040 HYBRID #7): “I’m looking forward to racing in Brazil again. The TS040 HYBRID has been really competitive at every track this year so I am confident we will again have a good package this weekend. It was great for us in the #7 to win the last race in Bahrain, and of course for Anthony and Sébastien to win the drivers’ World Championship. We enjoyed that moment but now we get back to business. Our focus is on winning the manufacturers’ title for TOYOTA; that would be an amazing way to end the season.”
Mike Conway (TS040 HYBRID #7): “I’m happy to be back in the #7 car again; I didn’t expect to be racing in Brazil so it was a nice surprise although obviously it’s disappointing for Kazuki, especially considering the circumstances. But for me it’s a great chance to get more miles in the car and to work again with the team. I was pleased with my weekend in Bahrain, particularly winning the race. So I am heading to Brazil in a very positive mood and I’m determined to do my bit again for the team in their World Championship challenge.”
Anthony Davidson (TS040 HYBRID #8): “After the tension of Bahrain and finally the joy at winning the drivers’ World Championship, things should be a little more relaxed for Sébastien and me in Brazil. That doesn’t mean we will be taking it easy; far from it. I’d love to finish the season with a win as that would be the perfect end to an incredible year. But the priority is first and foremost winning the manufacturers’ World Championship for the team. We have had the fastest car this season so I am confident we will be strong.”
Sébastien Buemi (TS040 HYBRID #8): “I’ve enjoyed the last few days after Bahrain and eventually I am starting to get used to being called a World Champion. It’s a great feeling but the season will not be complete until we have won the manufacturers’ title for the team. That’s the final piece of the jigsaw for us in 2014 and it’s clearly our target this weekend. We have shown good speed at Interlagos in the past two years and it seems to suit our hybrid system. It will be interesting to see how the new track surface affects things but I’m sure we’ll be fighting at the front.”
TOYOTA Racing at Interlagos:
2012 #7: Qual. 1st; Race 1st.
2013 #8: Qual. 3rd; Race DNF (accident).