Teams and drivers will travel to São Paulo this weekend for the penultimate round of the 2016 Formula 1 Championship. As Lewis Hamilton won the previous two rounds in USA and Mexico, the title battle is still open between the two Mercedes drivers going into this race.
The Brazilian Grand Prix is one of the most exciting events on the calendar due to the undulating nature of the circuit that has always produced great racing as well as to the enthusiastic Brazilian fans. The track is a good test for both car and driver, especially at this time of year when rain can bring an extra challenge due to the tricky driving conditions.
The Brazilian GP has joined the Formula 1calender back in 1973 and has been a permanent fixture since, with races being held at two locations: Jacarepagua (Rio de Janeiro) and Interlagos (Sao Paulo.
The Autódromo José Carlos Pace was 7.8 kilometer long when first hosted the event with massive reconfiguration happening in advance of the 2000 Brazilian GP when the track was shortened to its current 4.309-kilometer layout. The circuit name was changed in 1985 to honor José Carlos Pace, a Brazilian driver who died in a plane crash in 1977 and whose one and only Formula 1 victory came at Interlagos.
The track is one of the shortest laps of the year, but also one of the most intense due to its undulating course consisting of a twisty infield portion between turns six through 12, with three long straights between turns three and four, between turns five and six, and off turn 14 down the frontstretch before the beginning of the Senna “S” in turn one.
“The Interlagos circuit has a bit of - how can I put it? - ‘muscle’. It’s a place that you really attack - and it’s really enjoyable, particularly when the front-end is properly nailed,” Jenson Button explains.
“A corner like Ferradura is really satisfying when you get it right; you really commit at the corner entry, barely scrubbing off any speed, and then sort of guide the car through until it rolls out of the second apex up onto the apex kerb. It’s great. Even the hairpins require a really attacking style, you can take lots of kerb, and there’s no run-off at the exits. It’s how a racetrack should be, really.”
His McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso is keen to race at Interlagos as he enjoys the atmosphere in the packed grandstands with passionate fans.
“For such a short lap, the track has a great flow – from the moment you cross the start-finish line, you plunge into the esses and then sweep down into the bottom of the venue’s natural bowl. Even with a couple of hairpins, it doesn’t really feel like any of the corners interrupt the flow around here, which means that, at the end of each lap, you’re already fully committed to attacking it again.”
Having a 19-point advantage over Lewis Hamilton heading into the Brazilian GP, Nico Rosberg needs to score 25 more points in order to become world champion on Sunday regardless of where his team-mate finishes. Rosberg comes at Interlagos with two victories in his pocket from the last two races here, while Hamilton is yet to win an event in the country.
Pole position is not necessary important at this grand prix as history shows that only 12 from 33 races at Interlagos were won by the polesitter. There are a few overtaking possibilities but the preferred one is the pass into turn 1 which might even be an easy move when getting a good exit from turn 12.
The characteristics of Interlagos require maximum downforce through the tight and twisting section but as less drag as possible for the straights.
Pirelli has nominated the hard tyres in Brazil for the first time since 2013 to cope with the high-energy demands of the track and also offer a goos number of different strategy variables.
Tyres: soft, medium, hard
DRS: main straight and between turns 3 and 4
Driver Steward: Mika Salo
Weather: lows will range from 15-17 degrees Celsius to highs of 21-25 degrees Celsius
Facts and stats
Circuit length: 4.3 km
Race laps: 71
First Grand Prix: 1973
Lap record: 1:11.473 (Juan Pablo Montoya, 2004)
Most wins (driver):
Most wins (constructor): Ferrari and McLaren (8)
2015 Qualifying: Nico Rosberg
2015 Race: 1. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), 2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
Moments in time
Timo Glock’s final lap at the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix was decisive for the drivers’ title as Lewis Hamilton was able to pass him just seconds before the chequered flag and take the four points he needed to become World Champion in Felipe Massa’s disadvantage.
Timetable (GMT -2):
Friday 11 November
Practice One: 10:00 – 11:30
Practice Two: 14:00 – 15:30
Saturday 12 November
Practice Three: 11:00 – 12:00
Qualifying: 14:00 (60 minutes)
Sunday 13 November
Race: 14:00 (71 laps or two hours)