LONDON, Nov 18, 2011 (Tim Collings / AFP) - Michael Schumacher and his Mercedes team are aiming to finish a promising year on a high with a top-six finish - or better - in the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix next weekend.
Although the team admit they are focussed on their 2012 challenge, team chief Ross Brawn said they are determined not to allow that to detract from their bid to maintain a recent run of good form and to use it as a launch pad for next year.
Brawn has great personal memories of the Interlagos circuit at Sao Paulo where two years ago he completed a unique double when Briton Jenson Button added the drivers' title to the constructors' championship that the then-Brawn GP team won for 2009.
Mercedes took the team over following that single season of glory for Brawn, who had rescued the outfit from closure when he led a management buyout from Honda.
Since then Button has moved to McLaren to establish himself a serious world title contender again alongside fellow-Englishman Lewis Hamilton while Mercedes have invested in the team for the long term.
Brawn said: "Our focus at the factory has been on 2012 for some time now, but at the race track we are continuing to work hard with this year's car and make improvements. We are determined to end the season on a high and continue the run of top six results that we have enjoyed recently, which is the upper limit of the potential of the current car.
"Interlagos is a very unique track which presents some unusual challenges - a high altitude location, a bumpy surface and the challenging layout all test both the drivers and engineers. We will do our best."
Schumacher, who has defied his critics this year by shrugging off suggestions that at 42 he is too old to race and delivering a run of strong races, said he was revelling in his rekindled form and sense of purpose.
"We have enjoyed some good results finishing in the top six over the last few races, and I would love to continue this trend in Brazil and bring the season to a positive end.
"The team have worked very hard to improve our performance with the car that we have available to us and it would be a fitting reward for them. In Formula One, it is all about hard work in the end and we have done a lot as a team. I hope we can finish the year well."
Mercedes have already made sure they will finish fourth in the constructors championship with Schumacher and his team-mate and fellow-German Nico Rosberg in line to take eighth and seventh places in the drivers' title race.