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Brazilian Grand Prix (Sao Paulo) 2002 Brazilian Grand Prix (Sao Paulo) 2002 preview.
Story by Andrew Frampton.

The FIA Formula One World Championship visits a third successive continent, after two exciting races in Australia and Malaysia, the championship moves to South America, and the Brazilian track of Interlagos.

The Malaysian Grand Prix proved that the combination of Michael Schumacher and the Ferrari F2001 could be beaten, although without his first corner shunt with Juan Pablo Montoya, he could well have won. As it was, he took third, and added to the points gained from his win in Australia he still leads the driver's championship. In Brazil, he will drive the long awaited F2002, which has impressed in testing over the last two weeks and if its pace is to be believed Schumacher should stroll to victory. His team-mate, the Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, continues in the 2001 car for now, which has proved itself no slouch this season. Despite qualifying on pole position in Australia, Barrichello has yet to finish a race after the infamous first corner shunt in Australia, and an engine failure in Malaysia.

Williams look to be the strongest challengers to the Ferrari supremacy this season, and their drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher lie second and third in the standings heading to Brazil. Ralf Schumacher took a stunning victory in the last round in Malaysia, by virtue of the first corner shunt between his team-mate and his brother. Ralf is not adverse to first corner accidents himself, after colliding with Barrichello in Australia and being forced out of the race. Despite getting the first ever incident-based drive-through penalty in a Formula One race, Montoya fought back to take second in Malaysia, while he also came home second in Australia. He really burst onto the F1 scene in Brazil last year, with an audacious move on Michael Schumacher to take the lead. He could well have won, if he had not collided with Jos Verstappen's Arrows while he was lapping the Dutchman. Williams have a good chance of victory in Brazil, especially if the new Ferrari struggles.

McLaren have had a poor start to the 2002 season, as although they have shown plenty of potential, their reliability has let them down. Both David Coulthard, and former Sauber driver Kimi Raikkonen retired in Malaysia with engine problems, while Coulthard also failed to finish in Australia after being forced out of the lead with gearbox failure. Their only finish so far this season was Raikkonen's third position in Australia, which proves that if they have their reliability sorted, they could be a force in Brazil.

Sauber got their season well and truly underway in Malaysia, as Nick Heidfeld, and rookie Felipe Massa took fifth and sixth positions respectively. Both drivers showed pace in qualifying in both Malaysia and in Australia, where they were eliminated in the first corner accident. Sauber took fourth in the constructor's championship last season against the might of Jordan and Benetton, and will be hoping for a repeat performance this year.

Jordan's Malaysian Grand Prix could not have got much worse, as Takuma Sato drove into team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella on the second lap, damaging both cars and forcing them to pit. They eventually finished in 9th (Sato) and 13th (Fisichella). Neither car made it to the finish in Australia, as Fisichella was caught up in the first corner accident, and Sato's electronics failed after twelve laps. The team has the pace in qualifying, Fisichella lining up 8th and 9th in the first two events of this season, and it seems only a matter of time before they chalk up some points.

The Renault team secured its first points in only its second race since changing its name from Benetton at the start of the year, with Jenson Button's fourth place finish in Malaysia. Button would have taken his first ever podium finish if he had not suffered suspension problems two laps from the end, which left him unable to defend third position from Michael Schumacher. That was the team's first finish of the season, after Button had been taken out in the first corner accident in Australia, and Jarno Trulli had spun out when well placed in the first race, and then gone out with engine problems early on in Malaysia - the Italian has only completed 17 race laps this season. The team certainly has potential, and could well make the top six in Brazil.

The BAR team has struggled in 2002 and a series of personnel changes since the Malaysian Grand Prix could help to change their fortunes. Team leader Jacques Villeneuve went out after 27 laps in Australia, when his rear wing fell off, and then finished an anonymous eighth in Malaysia. Olivier Panis has failed to complete a race as yet, after being involved in the first corner shunt in Australia and then lasting just nine laps in Malaysia before his clutch went. Things can only get better for the much maligned team.

Arrows are another team that has struggled so far. Tom Walkinshaw had to bear the embarrassment of having both his cars disqualified in Australia after they illegally rejoined the race having stalled on the grid. Heinz-Harald Frentzen finished eleventh in Malaysia after qualifying in the same position, while Enrique Bernoldi retired with fuel pick-up problems. At the moment it is difficult to see where points are going to come from for the British-based team.

Toyota have proved themselves a force to be reckoned with in this year's championship, even though it was unclear whether they would have the speed to make the 107% qualifying standard at the first event. They soon proved they had the speed to upset some of the regular midfield runners, as Mika Salo and Allan McNish took 14th and 16th on the grid in Australia. Although McNish was caught up in the first corner accident, Salo made the most of the number of retirements to take a point with sixth position. To prove the Australia performance was no fluke, Salo lined up tenth in Malaysia and was again running in the top six before retiring, while McNish was unlucky not to make the top six after a fluffed pit-stop - he came home seventh. More points aren't out of the question in Brazil.

Jaguar has decided to continue with its R3 2002 car despite it being slower than last year's model. The team has decided that it has more potential for development than the R2 model, although they have struggled for speed this season, and have not got any higher than 17th in qualifying. Eddie Irvine somehow managed to get the car home in fourth position in Australia, while team-mate Pedro De La Rosa was eighth. De la Rosa took tenth in Malaysia, while Irvine retired.

Minardi have already achieved more than they set out to this season, as Mark Webber claimed two points for the team in his home event in Australia. Alex Yoong brought the second car home in seventh for a remarkable result for the small Italian team. The team could not continue their pace in Malaysia and both cars retired.

Driver's Championship Standings:
1. Michael Schumacher 14pts
2. Juan Pablo Montoya 12pts
3. Ralf Schumacher 10pts
4. Kimi Raikkonen 4pts
5. Eddie Irvine 3pts
6. Jenson Button 3pts
7. Mark Webber 2pts
8. Nick Heidfeld 2pts
9. Mika Salo 1pt
10. Felipe Massa 1pt

Constructor's Championship Standings:
1. Williams-BMW 22pts
2. Ferrari 14pts
3. McLaren-Mercedes 4pts
4. Jaguar-Cosworth 3pts
5. Renault 3pts
6. Sauber-Petronas 3pts
7. Minardi-Asiatech 2pts
8. Toyota 1pt

2002 F1 season calendar
03/03/2002 - Australian Grand Prix (Melbourne)
- Australia circuit by JR
- Australia preview by AF
- Australia grid by JR
- Australia review by AF
- Australia lap-by-lap by JR
17/03/2002 - Malaysian Grand Prix (Sepang)
- Malaysia circuit by JR
- Malaysia preview by AF
- Malaysia grid by JR
- Malaysia review by AF
- Malaysia lap-by-lap by JR
31/03/2002 - Brazilian Grand Prix (Sao Paulo)
- Brazil circuit by JR
- Brazil preview by AF
- Brazil grid by JR
- Brazil review by AF
- Brazil lap-by-lap by JR
14/04/2002 - San Marino Grand Prix (Imola)
- San Marino circuit by JR
- San Marino preview by AF
- San Marino grid by JR
- San Marino review by AF
- San Marino lap-by-lap by JR
28/04/2002 - Spanish Grand Prix (Barcelona)
- Spain circuit by JR
- Spain preview by AF
- Spain grid by JR
- Spain review by AF
- Spain lap-by-lap by JR
12/05/2002 - Austrian Grand Prix (Spielberg)
- Austria circuit by JR
- Austria preview by AF
- Austria grid by JR
- Austria review by AF
- Austria lap-by-lap by JR
26/05/2002 - Grand Prix de Monaco (Monaco)
- Monaco circuit by JR
- Monaco preview by AF
- Monaco grid by JR
- Monaco review by AF
- Monaco lap-by-lap by JR
09/06/2002 - Canadian Grand Prix (Montreal)
- Canada circuit by JR
- Canada preview by AF
- Canada grid by JR
- Canada review by AF
- Canada lap-by-lap by JR
23/06/2002 - European Grand Prix (Nürburgring)
- Europe circuit by JR
- Europe grid by JR
- Europe review by AF
- Europe lap-by-lap by JR
07/07/2002 - British Grand Prix (Silverstone)
- Britain circuit by JR
- Britain grid by JR
- Britain review by AF
- Britain lap-by-lap by JR
21/07/2002 - French Grand Prix (Magny-Cours)
- France circuit by JR
- France preview by AF
- France grid by JR
- France review by AF
- France lap-by-lap by JR
28/07/2002 - German Grand Prix (Hockenheim)
- Germany circuit by JR
- Germany preview by AF
- Germany grid by JR
- Germany review by AF
- Germany lap-by-lap by JR
18/08/2002 - Hungarian Grand Prix (Budapest)
- Hungary circuit by JR
- Hungary grid by JR
- Hungary lap-by-lap by JR
01/09/2002 - Belgian Grand Prix (Spa Francorchamps)
- Belgium circuit by JR
- Belgium grid by JR
- Belgium review by AF
- Belgium lap-by-lap by JR
15/09/2002 - Italian Grand Prix (Monza)
- Italy circuit by JR
- Italy grid by JR
- Italy lap-by-lap by JR
29/09/2002 - American Grand Prix (Indianapolis)
- USA circuit by JR
- USA grid by JR
- USA lap-by-lap by JR
13/10/2002 - Japanese Grand Prix (Suzuka)
- Japan circuit by JR
- Japan grid by JR
- Japan review by AF
- Japan lap-by-lap by JR

2002 Brazil GP circuit map. Image by John Rigby, FIA. Click here for a larger image. The 2001 grid line-up. Image by John Rigby, FIA. Click here for a larger image.

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