Formula One is now three races into 2003 with this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos - so get ready for the action.

Battling the bumps in Brazil
This weekend Formula One finds itself at the bumpy and challenging Brazilian Interlagos circuit for what is certain to be a very interesting race. The anticlockwise Interlagos track lends itself to action and incident even when F1 hasn't been subject to sweeping rule changes; add them to the mix and there's sure to be and action-packed race come Sunday.

Formula One has a massive following in Brazil. A heritage including former champions such as Emerson Fittipaldi and Nelson Piquet mixed with current stars such as Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa waiting in the wings makes for strong support from the fans at Interlagos. And, of course, Brazil is the country of the late, great, Ayrton Senna.

In its last away before embarking on the 'European season', teams and drivers are likely to be subjected to high temperatures and changeable conditions, and spectators and viewers should have enjoyable viewing.

Mating time
Over at the dateline team-mate agency things have been pretty quiet since Malaysia. At Williams Ralf Schumacher has had too much to contend with at home with the German media looking into his private life and various allegations being made to voice too much about Juan Pablo Montoya, and on track he's been too far away behind the Colombian, in qualifying especially, to pose problems. According to the British press, Frank Williams and Patrick Head have sent Ralf a letter telling him to sort it out. Never been a team for giving a driver a shoulder to cry on, Williams...

The Jacques Villeneuve and Jenson Button spat has gone all quiet just as it was beginning to look like getting interesting. Villeneuve missed out on the Malaysian Grand Prix just as it was about to start due to a reliability issue, and will no doubt be wanting to get in some quick times in Brazil to put young Button in his place.

Rookie round-up
Of the F1 rookies after two races it's Brazilian CART champ Cristiano da Matta who's looking the strongest after a fine performance in Malaysia. Qualifying ahead of his experienced team-mate Olivier Panis and running strongly in the race despite a weekend beset by car changes was an impressive showing. Heading into his home Grand Prix the Brazilian is sure to be pumped up and ready for action.

Of the others Briton Ralph Firman has struggled in qualifying in the opening two races, but at least had a solid race run in Malaysia. Fellow Brit Justin Wilson had a torrid time in Malaysia with no power steering and a HANS device working free, but even then looked very impressive at the start of the race.

Antonio Pizzonia has been subject to a few problems at both of the season opening races, and will be eager to have a solid race at home.

Team Talk
Ferrari hasn't won yet. That's the big news in the team arena. The Maranello equipe failed to win only twice in 2002, and this year they've already matched that tally. McLaren are the team to have benefited from this, and what a strong start, with both wins of the year, the Woking concern has had. Unsurprisingly Ferrari will be far from happy and eager to get back to winning ways.

Elsewhere Williams have yet to key in with their new car, even in the hands of Juan Pablo Montoya. Renault, on the other hand, certainly did key into their new car in Malaysia and the R203 looks strong. Elsewhere it's a midfield medley thus far in the season.

Ferrari
It's his home race, but Rubens Barrichello seems to have nothing but bad luck at Interlagos. The Brazilian is always quick here, always buoyed on by the crowd, but always seems to have bad luck.

Michael Schumacher hasn't had the best of starts to his season has he? He put his hand up and admitted to his mistake in Malaysia but surely the most successful driver of all time shouldn't be making mistakes quite like that at this stage in his career. That said, accidents will happen and there's no point discounting him yet.

McLaren-Mercedes
Already Ron Dennis' McLaren team have twice the amount of race wins that they notched up last year, and Kimi Raikkonen has now joined, Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, David Coulthard, Ralf Schumacher, Juan Pablo Montoya, Olivier Panis and Jacques Villeneuve as a current race winning F1 driver. This will have given Kimi an extra boost, not that the talented Finn needed it.

The team really seem to have hit the ground running this year and they should be strong once more this weekend. Another race win would really be something, but with this season so far you never know.

BMW WilliamsF1
Juan Pablo Montoya would have won in his first Brazilian Grand Prix in 2001 were it not for hard-charging Dutchman Jos Verstappen charging hard into the back of Montoya's Williams. This year Jos the Boss is back and Montoya will be well aware that Verstappen will race with anything at anytime - even when being lapped - and give the Dutchman a rather wide berth when he laps him at Interlagos.

With Ralf's problems ongoing, Montoya should be the man at Williams to watch, though if the Williams team's kick up the arse to Ralf works the German might put all his problems behind him. The team will be looking closely at strategy, as Sam Michael explains. "Strategy is always interesting at Interlagos with such a long pit lane but also plenty of overtaking opportunities." Ralf will be hoping for that...

Renault F1
Fernando Alonso looked good in his Renault debut in Melbourne. He looked fantastic in Malaysia. After he notched up his first pole position the detractors said it was purely down to low fuel levels and that he wouldn't figure in the race save for some early lap leading. Well he did come in early, but he also ended up the day on the podium. Not too shabby then. Two superb races so far then; what can he do in Brazil?

Jarno Trulli has also been having solid performances, and the whole team has a confident air about them. Interlagos is not a circuit where power deficiencies are highlighted too strongly, so the sweet handling, but down on power Renault could be just the car to have.

Sauber-Petronas
Both drivers at Sauber have points so far this season. Despite the challenging nature of the track it's one that veteran driver Heinz Harald Frentzen enjoys. "I've always liked Interlagos," he said. "It's a very challenging circuit and you have to work hard to get the car set-up just right. It's a hard race because of the nature of the circuit, but it flows well and it is very enjoyable to drive on. I'm looking forward to scoring more points." Heidfeld too likes the track so expect the customary solid performances from both.
Toyota
Malaysia confirmed that there's nothing the matter with Cristiano da Matta. The Brazilian was fast all weekend and he now heads to his first home Grand Prix. Fuel pressure worries that blighted the team at both Malaysia and Australia have apparently been rectified so a good home debut could ensue.

Panis meanwhile rates the track. "Brazil is quite a good circuit, I really like it," said the Frenchman. "It is normally a fun race and Interlagos is a good circuit for overtaking. We need to have a good balance coming out of the last hairpin, because if you have a good exit you can follow the car in front and have a chance to overtake."

B.A.R-Honda
Jacques Villeneuve lost out in Malaysia due to car failure. The problem has been diagnosed as a fault with the engine management system, and after attention this shouldn't blight B.A.R in Brazil. Jenson Button continued with his strong run in 2003 and reckons the 005 is improving all the time. "All the signs are that our reliability is improving all the time and we have also worked towards improving the way we adapt to race conditions," said the Brit in the build-up to Brazil.

Jordan Ford
Celebrating their 200th GP this weekend, there have been no fireworks yet in 2003 from the yellow cars. It's also engine supplier Cosworth's 700th Grand Prix. No points yet from either Giancarlo Fisichella or Ralph Firman and the start of the season hasn't been the greatest for Eddie Jordan's team. Fisi does like the track and can look back on some good past performances. "I do love the Interlagos circuit," he says, "and I have had some good results here including second place in 2000."

Ralph Firman, according to the team's press release, doesn't remember if he's ever raced anti-clockwise before, so he could be an interesting one to watch. His qualifying pace hasn't looked good so far, but then strategy has played a part, and he showed in Malaysia that he's quite happy to mix it with the big boys when the need arises.

Jaguar-Cosworth
For Pizzonia it's his first home Grand Prix, and unlike the first two races of the season, it's on a circuit the young Brazilian knows well. He'll be hoping for some better luck than he has had so far this season.

The R4 looks to be a tidy enough chassis and could come on song once the team returns to Europe. So far there's been a few niggles for the team for both Pizzonia and Mark Webber and the last of the away races before they head back to Europe will probably not be the time to have everything sorted for the team.

Minardi-Cosworth
Over at Minardi there's been teething troubles to the start of the season and it's unlikely that Brazil will be a trouble-free time for the team. Justin Wilson gets back in the car and will be hoping that the team has found a sensible way on getting the HANS device to stay in place.

Jos Verstappen meanwhile has had two steady runs to the finish but is no doubt eager to get in the thick of the action, wheel to wheel racer that he is.

Tyred out?
Tyre-wise Michelin currently hold the advantage. The French concern is eager to point out that its successes are due to the quality of its product, rather than due to opportunities presented by the new rules and regulations. "There is no reason to suppose that the excellent results obtained by cars running on our tyres are an artificial by-product of the latest regulations," Michelin Motorsport boss Pierre Dupasquier says. "For the second consecutive race we offered our partners tyres that were better suited to the conditions than those provided by our rival supplier."

Brazil is likely to be hot, and that tends to favour the Michelins. Bridgestone meanwhile knows it has to do better and moves are afoot. As Hisao Suganuma, Bridgestone's technical manager explains, "We have been working hard evaluating the slightly disappointing results of the past few weeks and we're confident that our tyres will be competitive next weekend. Our teams should also see further improvements over the coming weeks."

Track time
The anti-clockwise circuit offers a challenge to drivers and car alike. A long, slightly curving, pit 'straight', the third longest on the calendar, leads into a tight left hander that drops away downhill, the braking required into this lends itself to overtaking, and to mistakes as drivers outbrake themselves. From there it's straight into a flowing right-left until a bumpy long left hander called Curva do Sol which leads neatly into the second straight. This ends with a complicated double apex corner, the entry to which provides another overtaking opportunity.

Another short straight then leads into a difficult off camber right hander, followed by a slow left. A quick blast on the throttle takes the drivers to the slowest part of the circuit, a first gear hairpin. Two left turns, then the uphill trek to the sweeping pit straight.

Much of the surface at Interlagos is bumpy. Though every year the bumps are softened they still undoubtedly exist and give a real pounding to the drivers. Each lap is 2.7 miles long, and the driver have to endure some 71 race laps on Sunday.

Predictions
Last year Michael Schumacher took the first victory for the F2002 on its debut. What better way to give the car a decent send-off than another win in Brazil for Schumacher?