Lewis Hamilton will be seeking to sign off from a troubled rollercoaster 2011 with a second consecutive victory in Sunday’s season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.
Having won in dazzling fashion in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago, the 26-year-old Briton believes he and his McLaren team have the pace to succeed again and he is aiming for his fourth victory of the year and the 18th of his career.
Looking ahead to what promises to be a thrilling and open finale at Interlagos, Hamilton said: “Winning in Abu Dhabi last week was a fantastic feeling and it’s made me even more determined to finish the 2011 season with a victory.
“It would be great to go into the winter off the back of another win, so that’ll be my aim. Of course, for Jenson and myself, Interlagos is the circuit where we won our world championship titles – so it will always hold some happy memories for us.
“In fact, I’ve only been here once before — in 2009 — when I wasn’t in contention for the championship. This year, with both titles already wrapped up, I want to enjoy myself – and I think we have the car to make a difference.”
“My feeling is that we’ll just go into it and pick up where we left off in Abu Dhabi — I hope! I think we’re all set for a great end to the 2011 championship.
“Everyone knows that Interlagos is a fantastic circuit, one of the best on the calendar, and I think the combination of KERS (Kinetic Energy Regeneration System) and DRS (Drag Reduction System), plus the possibility of wet weather, means we’re all set for a fascinating race.”
Team-mate and compatriot Jenson Button believes McLaren’s performance in Abu Dhabi showed they are pushing as hard as possible despite the championships having been settled by the triumphs of German Sebastian Vettel and the Red Bull team.
He said: “I think we proved that McLaren still wants to win races even though both titles are done and dusted. For myself, I’m determined to win my fourth race of the year — even if it means fighting all the way to the last lap of the last race.”
The McLaren duel for glory may be the highlight of Sunday’s 71-laps contest which, for the fans, may be seen as a chance to bid a fond farewell to veteran local hero Rubens Barrichello even if he insists he has no plans to retire after his 322nd race at the end of his 19th season in Formula One.
Close friend and fellow Paulista Felipe Massa of Ferrari has advised him to retire if at 39 he is struggling to find sponsors for a further season in 2012 rather than battle on in search of a drive.
Barrichello appears unlikely to continue with the Williams team next season and is understood not to have a drive agreed.
He admitted he is not looking at his home race as his final F1 outing and insisted he will find a drive for his 20th season next year, but Massa hopes he will make dignified exit.
“I did give him an advice: to quit,” Massa said. “To me, Barrichello had an incredible career in F1 — the driver who competed in most GPs and with many wins under his belt.
“It is a career most drivers would dream to have. He raced for the best teams in F1. I haven’t advised him to quit because I feel he is old or something like that.
“But today in F1 there are 12 teams and five or six are asking for money to give a seat. I think this is absurd.
“My opinion, which I told him, is that I can’t see Barrichello searching for sponsors to race after all he had achieved in F1. I told him to quit and to use this last race to have a proper ending.
Earlier Barrichello said: “I am positive. I am not going to say goodbye to people.”
All of which indicates an emotional weekend, as always, lies ahead in the suburbs of the sprawling Brazilian city.