The final countdown: Brazilian Grand PrixView

By on Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Lotus F1 Team

The 2013 Formula One season draws to a close this weekend with round 19, the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos. Sebastian Vettel is seeking to make it nine in a row, but there's still plenty to play for...

Formula 1 moves quickly from the United States of America to Brazil this weekend, for the final round of the 2013 season at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace, most commonly known as Interlagos (literally 'between the lakes'), in Sao Paolo.

It is not only the end of the season but this weekend’s race brings down the curtain on several lengthy partnerships. Mark Webber will start his final Formula 1 race before he heads off to the World Endurance Championship; Felipe Massa leaves Ferrari after 10 years with the Italian team, while V8 engines will scream their last when the 71st lap of the race is run. Amid an uncertain driver market, a few racers could be unknowingly bidding farewell to the sport – for now at least.

Although the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship titles were already decided in India, there are still some issues left to be solved. Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus are competing for the second place, while Marussia and Caterham are fighting to avoid finishing in last place – both battles come with lucrative financial boosts for the successful squad.

As in 2012, Pirelli will bring its Hard and Medium compounds to Interlagos while the forecasts suggest rain may play again an important role here. 2014 development tyres will also be trialled in free practice – weather depending.

The drivers' representative on the stewarding panel will be Mark Blundell, who started 61 races in the sport between 1991 and 1995.


The first Brazilian Grand Prix was held in 1972 but was not part of the Formula 1 World Championship. The following year the race was included in the official calendar and has hosted a race every season since.

The first three Brazilian GPs were won by Brazilian drivers with Emerson Fittipaldi winning in 1973 and 1974 and Carlos Pace in 1975. The last Brazilian to win his home race was Felipe Massa in 2008, which to date remains Massa’s most recent victory in the sport.

In 1977 the drivers started complaining about Interlagos's very rough surface and because of that the event was relocated to Jacarepaguá in Rio de Janeiro. The race alternated between Jacarepagua to Interlagos and vice versa till 1990, when it has returned for good to Interlagos. Since its debut, the Brazilian GP was held 10 times at Jacarepagua and on 30 occasions at Interlagos, albeit a truncated version compared to in the past.

The Track

Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

Interlagos is one of the shortest circuits of the season which crams 15 turns into a 4.3 kilometers lap. The track is situated 800 meters above sea level, the highest on the current F1 calendar, which affects the running of the engines.

The track has created some of the most exciting and memorable races in recent Formula One history and provided excellent overtaking opportunities, especially at the Senna S and Subida do Lago.

The infield section features the challenging Laranjinha curve, while the twisty Pinheirinho and Bico do Pato turns reward a car with a strong front end. A good exit from Juncao is crucial as any time lost here will be multiplied all the way down to the Senna S.

Some corners that are easy in the dry – such as the Curva do Sol and Mergulho – can be treacherous in the wet, as most of the field found at the latter in 2013.

“It’s a fantastically challenging track which never seems to let 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,” says Romain Grosjean, who finished second last weekend.

“If I had to pick favorite 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, while the last corner is so fast and really puts quite a strain on your body.”

The DRS zones for this weekend’s race will be on the start/finish straight – with the activation point just prior to the pit entry at Arquibancadas – and on the Reta Oposta.


Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

In 2004 the Brazilian GP was moved to the back end of the calendar. It was the first time since its addition to the Formula 1 calendar that the race was not one of the first three rounds of the championship. Since then the Drivers’ Championship has been decided at Interlagos for six times.

Interlagos was renamed Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in 1985, as a tribute to the Brazilian driver who died in a plane crash in 1977.

In the closing stages of the 1991 race Ayrton Senna’s gearbox failed, giving him no chance but to maintain sixth gear all around the track, also in slow and medium corners. He won the race eventually and right after crossing the finish line he started to scream from pain because of struggling to keep the car under control all this time, which caused him muscle cramps. Senna was almost unable to move and had to be lifted from the car and driven to the podium in the medical car.

From 30 races here, the Brazilian GP was won from pole position on 10 occasions. The only driver to win from pole this century is Felipe Massa, in both 2006 and 2008.

Timetable (GMT-2)

Friday 22 November

  • Practice 1: 10.00-11.30
  • Practice 2: 14.00 – 15.30

Saturday 23 November

  • Practice 3: 11.00-12.00
  • Qualifying: 14.00-15.00

Sunday 24 November

  • Race: 14.00

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