SAO PAULO, Brazil — Toyota’s Jarno Trulli not only had to outrun 19 other drivers, he also had to fight back a fever brought on by a flu to clinch the No. 2 spot on the grid for Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
“It’s ironic because for the first time in my career I thought I might not make it on Friday because I was feeling really ill with flu,” Trulli said on Saturday after securing the first front row start for Toyota since Japan 2005. “So after this result I have to thank the whole team for the job — the mechanics, the engineers and also to the doctor.”
Trulli’s best start previously this year had been third at the Malaysian Grand Prix in March. His only podium finish of the season was in France in June, when he finished third.
SAO PAULO SECURES GP: Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone, Sao Paulo Mayor Gilberto Kassab and Brazilian Grand Prix promoter Tamas Rohonyi on Saturday ratified an agreement, signed in 2007, guaranteeing the Brazilian GP through 2014.
The 4.3-kilometer (2.6-mile) Interlagos track has been hosting Brazilian GPs since its inauguration in 1973.
This year, about $15 million (12 million euros) were invested in improvements mainly in the paddock area, a new hospital and an additional 2,500 seats, bringing total seating capacity to 75,000. However, for safety reasons the number of seats for Sunday’s race will be reduced by 5,000.
PIQUET BETS ON MASSA: In town to see his son Nelson Jr. race in the Brazilian Grand Prix, Brazil’s three-time F1 world champion Nelson Piquet didn’t think twice when asked who he thought would win the season’s final event.
“I think Lewis Hamilton won’t get past the first turn,” Piquet said while signing autographs at Interlagos. “There will be a lot of drivers on the grid who don’t like him.” He did not elaborate.
“I don’t like to bet, but if I were forced to, I would place my money on Felipe Massa,” he said.
McLaren’s Hamilton enters the Brazilian GP with a seven-point lead over Massa, his only contender for the championship in the last race of the season.
Massa needs to win and have Hamilton finish no higher than sixth, or finish second while the Briton finishes seventh or worse.
TROPHY BY NIEMEYER: The winner of Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix will receive a trophy designed by celebrated architect Oscar Niemeyer.
The trophy was inspired on Brazil’s Alvorada presidential palace which Niemeyer designed. It is made of so-called “green plastic” — polyethylene plastic made from sugar cane-based ethanol.
The drivers who come in second and third will receive smaller versions of the 5-kilogram (11-pound) trophy.
THE KISSER IS BACK: Jose Alves de Moura, an eccentric publicity seeker known as the “Beijoqueiro” (the Kisser in Portuguese) was at Interlagos waiting for a chance to slip past security guards and kiss Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.
“I wanted to kiss Felipe to bring him luck and because he will be the next F1 champion,” Moura said as he was escorted away from the track’s main entrance.
The Portugal-born Moura, whose stated aim in life is to kiss visiting celebrities, succeeded in planting one on Frank Sinatra when he performed in Sao Paulo in 1980.