After the Mexican Grand Prix, Formula 1 travels to Brazil this weekend for the penultimate round of the 2015 season. Though both titles have already been decided in Russia and United States, there are still points left to be awarded and positions to be gained in the two standings.
The Brazilian Grand Prix has been a permanent fixture on the F1 calendar since 1973, with races being held at Jacarepagua (Rio de Janeiro) and Interlagos (Sao Paulo) till 1990, when the sport eventually settled at Interlagos.
It is a track which offers some good possibilities for both overtaking and making mistakes, combined with the unpredictable weather in Sao Paulo - which has led to spectacular races in the past - might put on a very exciting racing show on Sunday.
The Autódromo José Carlos Pace has hosted 32 Grands Prix to date and is one of the historic venues which has helped write the history of Formula 1
Initially named from its location on the neighborhood of Interlagos, the track was renamed in 1985 to honour the Brazilian driver José Carlos Pace, who died in a plane crash in 1977. Interlagos was the scene of Pace's only Formula 1 triumph.
The track is a mixture of fast corners and a technical slow section, with a twisty middle sector and a long uphill corner that goes on to a very long straight in the final sector. “It’s a big challenge at every turn. There never seems to have a part where you relax. Even the main start-finish ‘straight’ isn’t boring as it starts uphill with some interesting camber, then gradually turns before finishing at the downhill turn one, where it’s so easy to out-brake yourself, Lotus’ Romain Grosjean says.
“If I had to pick favourite parts of Interlagos, I would say the first and last corners; the first corner is really technical and punishes you if you get it wrong, and the last corner is so fast and really puts quite a stain on your body.”
It’s no secret that Autódromo José Carlos Pace is tricky on finding the right set-up as there are sections where downforce is required and others where its presence is not desired. The circuit requires a strong engine power for the straight, a stable car for the mid-section and strong traction on exit. The compromise on how to run on downforce is quite challenging. “Technically it’s always tricky to find a setup balance between the twisty parts of the circuit and the long straights. In an ideal world you’d want Monza-spec for the start and end of the lap and Hungaroring-spec for the rest,” Pastor Maldonado adds.
“Different drivers and teams will make different compromises, which all adds up to an interesting race. Some will go for greater straight-line speed to help them pass and defend in the race, others more downforce for a better lap time and less sliding. Bumps can also be an issue and there are several overtaking opportunities on the track which rewards late braking, both to go on the attack and keep rivals behind. Last but not least the unpredictable weather is sure to keep us on our toes.”
History tells that from 32 races to date, the pole sitter has triumphed just 11 times and therefore pole position is not necessarily an important ingredient for winning the Brazilian GP.
Felipe Massa and Sebastian Vettel are the only drivers of the current field who have won more than once in Brazil, while Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg have only one victory to their names.
Fernando Alonso has scored more podiums here than any other current driver but is yet to taste a Brazilian GP win, a statistic which probably won’t alter this season.
Autódromo José Carlos Pace is quite a high-energy circuit for tyres and Pirelli’s allocation of medium and soft compounds will offer teams a little more freedom with the strategies.
There will be two DRS zones - along the main straight and immediately exiting Curva do Sol – with detection zones after Subida dos Boxes and exiting the Senna S.
Facts and stats
- Circuit length: 4.3 km
- Turns: 15
- Direction: anticlockwise
- Race laps: 71
- First Grand Prix: 1973
- Lap record: 1:11.473 (Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams, 2004)
- Most wins (driver): Michael Schumacher - 4
- Most wins (constructor): Ferrari, McLaren - 8
- 2014 Qualifying: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
- 2014 Race: 1. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), 2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 3. Felipe Massa (Williams)
Timetable (GMT -2):
Friday 13 November
- Practice One: 10:00 – 11:30
- Practice Two: 14:00 – 15:30
Saturday 14 November
- Practice Three: 11:00 – 12:00
- Qualifying: 14:00 (60 minutes)
Sunday 15 November
- Race: 14:00 (71 laps or two hours)