With Fernando Alonso leading the F1 2010 World Championship for the first time in seven months heading into the upcoming Brazilian Grand Prix, Ferrari has acknowledged that it cannot afford to take any risks at Interlagos, but rather will be adopting a 'very careful' approach – with getting to the chequered flag the uppermost concern.
Ferrari has triumphed in Brazil on ten separate occasions since 1976 – eight of them at Interlagos – and the Scuderia's
team principal Stefano Domenicali well knows that an eleventh victory with Alonso in the 38th edition of the country's grand prix this weekend could just be enough to secure the Spaniard a third drivers' title at the highest level.
A venue that has very often been the scene of thrilling spectacles and dramatic, nail-biting championship-deciders, the 4.3km circuit in the city of São Paulo has provided both ecstasy and agony for Ferrari in recent years – in 2008, as Domenicali recalls, both of those emotions practically at once.
“I would say my best memory of the Brazilian Grand Prix goes back to the 2007 race,” the Italian mused, talking to the Prancing Horse's website. “It was the final round and we went into it seven points down, so to come out of it with Kimi [Raikkonen] winning the drivers' title and taking the constructors' championship with him and Felipe [Massa] was truly memorable from a sporting point-of-view.
“The worst memory would have to be 2008 and what I would describe as 'Felipe's final corner'. As he crossed the line he was world champion and then, unfortunately, after a few seconds the title was handed to Lewis Hamilton. That was a difficult moment, although the bitterness was eased slightly by the fact that we won the constructors' title that year.
“For Felipe and the team, it was a really difficult moment. What was extraordinary in our sport was to see how Felipe reacted a few moments after the end of the race, when he stood on the podium, displaying admirable self-control, as did the team, displaying his and the team's great sense of sportsmanship.”
Indeed, Massa has invariably been on top form on home turf – ascending the highest step of the podium in 2006 and 2008 – whilst Alonso has sealed both of his title glories at Interlagos, courtesy of a third-place finish there back in 2005 and the runner-up spot in the same race twelve months later. It is clear that Domenicali has high hopes for both men in the penultimate outing of the F1 2010 campaign.
“Brazil is Felipe's home race and knowing him the way I do, I am sure there will be that little bit extra motivation to do well,” the Italian confessed. “He will want to show his fans what he can do, so I expect him to be very much up for the fight, doing all he can to win. He will be very quick, which is exactly what we need right now to reach our goals.
“Fernando will tackle the race at Interlagos in the same way he tackled the last few rounds, which means with great determination, keeping in-mind that the key is to finish the race. Unless something unpredictable happens, that would mean bringing home a big points haul.”