Interlagos – scene of the upcoming Brazilian Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the F1 2010 World Championship – is a place of happy memories for Sauber duo Kamui Kobayashi and Nick Heidfeld, and the pair admit that they are hoping what is invariably an 'exciting race' shines upon them once again this weekend.
Kobayashi made his top flight bow in Brazil this time last year, drafted in at the eleventh hour to replace the injured Timo Glock at Toyota – and going on to stun seasoned observers by maturely qualifying an excellent eleventh in a frequently-disrupted session and then running as high as sixth during the race itself, artfully if occasionally controversially fending off world champion-elect Jenson Button for lap-after-lap.
It was just such a stellar performance that brought the fast-but-wild young Japanese ace to Sauber's attention in the first place, and he has increasingly replicated that kind of form of late this season, with points-scoring finishes in six of the last nine outings. He is hoping that Interlagos will keep that trend going.
“In 2009, I drove my first-ever F1 race in Brazil when I stood in for Timo Glock at Toyota,” the 24-year-old recollected. “I didn't expect much, because I didn't know the Interlagos track and I hadn't driven an F1 car in dry conditions for eight months. It was a difficult situation for me, but I just believed in myself and my goal was to make no mistakes and finish the race.
“It's a nice track that is physically very demanding. In the 2009 race it was tough for my neck, especially in the last corner which is extremely long and has high G-forces. The track is also quite technical, but for me the main aspect was the physical one. Of course, this will not be a problem again this year.
“The weekend was very special for me in every respect. The weather conditions changed constantly, and it was almost impossible to work on the set-up. We just changed tyres time and time again, and I tried to complete as many laps as possible in practice. I'm very much looking forward to my second Brazilian Grand Prix.”
Those sentiments are shared by Heidfeld, although the experienced German will be making his tenth start at Interlagos – the second of which back in 2001 yielded his maiden rostrum finish at the highest level, perhaps appropriately with Sauber.
Having rejoined the fray only three races ago in-place of fellow F1 veteran Pedro de la Rosa, the 33-year-old Mönchengladbach native is keen to make it three points-scoring finishes in swift succession this weekend around a track that he acknowledges invariably produces thrillingly spectacular action.
“I like the Interlagos circuit,” he confessed. “It isn't a very long lap, but it is demanding. We drive anti-clockwise, and a special loading on the neck muscles is characteristic to the circuit. My favourite corner is Turn Six – an uphill double right-hander, fast and blind.