Prixview – Brazilian Grand Prix

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Round twenty and the penultimate round of the 2019 season brings Formula One finish its tour of the Americas heading to Brazil and the district of Interlagos in Sao Palo for the Brazilian Grand Prix. The circuit officially named the Autódromo José Carlos Pace, was renamed following his death in s plane crash in 1977 near the city.

Interlagos translates as ‘between two lakes’, the circuit sits between two large artificial lakes, Guarapiranga and Billings, which were built in the early 20th century to supply the city with water and electric power. The first Grand Prix held here was in the 1940s as stock car races.

The designers took their inspiration from three main circuits: Brooklands in the UK, Roosevelt Raceway in the USA and Montlhery in France. Interlagos was a five-mile circuit winding its way around a natural bowl, however that has since been halved into the current circuit.

As it was in the 1940’s Interlagos remains a difficult circuit for teams and drivers, its tight and twisty this makes overtaking difficult. The circuit is one which demands the best of the cars and drivers, its narrow and short.

The first Formula One race was a non-championship race in 1972, the ‘test event’ for the following year, which was won by three times champion Emerson Fittipaldi, The Brazilian followed by Pace himself the following season. Another South American Carlos Pace himself the following season.

Due to the bumpiness of the track, the race moved to Rio de Janeiro’s Jacarepaguá circuit. But when it returned to Interlagos the new ground effect cars bounced around and were difficult for the drivers to drive, as well as causing technical problems with the cars.

Argentine Carlos Reutemann dominated in his Ferrari, which was equipped with superior Michelin tyres. This proved to be the French company’s first victory in Formula One. Reutemann was followed by home favourite Fittipaldi and defending champion Niki Lauda.

In 1981, Carlos Reutemann disobeyed team orders to let his teammate Alan Jones by and took the victory; the following year Piquet finished first and Keke Rosberg finished second. Piquet and Rosberg were both disqualified for being underweight in post-race scrutineering, and the race victory was given to third-placed Alain Prost, who would go on to win at Jacarepaguá four more times, earning the nickname “the King of Rio.”

Since 1990 the race has been held at the shortened Interlagos, Prost won the first race at the expense of Senna. The local boy took victory in 1991, despite his McLaren’s manual gearbox was losing gears quickly and close to the end, he only had 6th gear left. This made the car much more difficult and physically demanding to drive, but he still eventually won holding off Williams driver Riccardo Patrese.

The shortened Interlagos, has seen many dramatic title deciders, but the circuit remains a challenge, 2003 being a dramatic race, where multiple drivers to spin out of the race, including then-reigning World Champion Michael Schumacher, ending a remarkable run of race finishes dating back to the 2001 German Grand Prix.

2008 goes down as one of the most memorable, as Felipe Massa took on Lewis Hamilton for the driver’s title. In a dramatic wet-dry-wet race Massa took victory, as Hamilton got past Timo Glock at the final corner of the final lap to take fifth and the title. Jenson Button claimed his only world title, as Brawn became the only team to win in their debut season

2012 was another classic race, where Vettel this time had to do battle with Fernando Alonso. After making a very poor start which dropped him to 22nd, he climbed up to 6th which was enough to see him win his 3rd consecutive Drivers’ title. But in the hybrid era Mercedes have been king, Nico Rosberg took victory in the first three seasons.

2016 saw Hamilton win in the wet, but is best remembered for Max Verstappen’s drive from sixteenth to third in just fifteen laps

Facts and figures

Round 20 of 21
Race Formula 1 Heineken Grande Premio do Brasil 2019
Venue Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, São Paulo, Brazil
Circuit Length 4.309 km (2.677 mi)
Laps 71
Race Distance 305.909 km (190.067 mi)
Lap Record 1:11.473 (Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams, 2004)
Most wins drivers Alain Prost (6)
Most wins manufacture McLaren (12)

Fast facts

  • Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world and is named after a tree called Brazilwood. Sharing a border with nine countries – every South American country except Chile and Ecuador.
  • Brazilian drivers have taken more poles than drivers from any other nation at Interlagos. A Brazilian has started from the front here on ten occasions.
  • Five Brazilian drivers have won on home soil since the Brazilian Grand Prix became a part of the world championship in 1973. Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna and Felipe Massa took two wins apiece, whilst Carlos Pace won once.
  • Since their return to the sport in 2010, Mercedes have never failed to see both of their cars reach the chequered flag at the Brazilian Grand Prix, and at least one of their cars has scored in all of the past nine Interlagos races.
  • Like many pre-World War II tracks, Interlagos features banked corners, with the drivers beginning their lap on a sort of half oval – in fact, between 1957 and the track’s return to the F1 calendar in 1990, Interlagos could be run as a giant oval.

Event timetable

Session

Local

GMT

Friday

P1 11:00-12:30 13:00-14:30
P2 15:00-16:30 17:00-18:30

Saturday

P3 12:00-13:00 14:00-15:00
Qualifying 15:00-16:00 17:00-18:00

Sunday

Race 15:10 17:10

What happened in 2018?

Lewis Hamilton kept the momentum going at Interlagos to taking pole by nine-hundredths of a second over Sebastian Vettel it wasn’t an easy session for both drivers. They both had been forced to take avoiding action after coming across slow cars on timed laps.

Their teammates were a tenth off, with Valtteri Bottas a tenth of Hamilton in third and Kimi Raikkonen fourth. The two Finns separated by one hundredth off a second. Ferrari appeared to have the edge over the Mercedes going into Q3, but that before intermittent rain allowed Mercedes to take a slight edge.

Hamilton carried that momentum into the race running second behind Verstappen. The five-time champion had been in the lead until he made an early stop, however for the second time this year Mercedes had concerns about reliability.

Verstappen meanwhile was in the lead of the race, he had a gap and control of the race as Hamilton managed his problems. However, when running up against the lapped Force India of Esteban Ocon, they collided. The stewards deemed it as a racing incident.

But the drama wasn’t over, as after the race there was an altercation between the two. The Dutchman repeatedly shoved and pushed the Frenchman, being summoned to the stewards and being found guilty of unsporting behaviour.

Raikkonen finished third after Ferrari proved unable to challenge the top two, despite the team starting the race on the more durable tyres. Raikkonen had been under pressure from Bottas before the Finn’s were spilt by Ricciardo. But fifth for Bottas and victory for Hamilton was enough for Mercedes to seal the constructors.

It was another brilliant race for Ferrari bound Leclerc, the Monacan once again dominated the race for seventh. He comfortably lead the Haas’s of Grosjean and Magnussen.

Race Result – 1) L. Hamilton, Mercedes, 01:27:09.066, 2) M. Verstappen, Red Bull –Tag Heuer, +1.469, 3) K. Raikkonen, Ferrari, +4.764

What to watch for?

Interlagos is a difficult circuit for drivers to overtaking this makes qualifying more important, but its not impossible. The circuit requires high downforce but not speed as there is only two real flat out sections, but the dirty air can be an issue for the drivers making following difficult.

Mercedes, I believe could be on the back foot slightly as Red Bull were very strong at altitude which as we know offset the gap between the teams is smaller. Interlagos also can be a race where we can see a lot of variables in terms of performance, weather etc which means teams need to be on the ball.

Ferrari were weaker than we expected in the last few races, in Austin they struggled for pace and they finished without really any challenge. Although they did have mistakes in that race. Ferrari, I think will struggle, but I find it hard to write them off totally as we have a circuit which lends itself to downforce.

The midfield battle has been tight in recent races, now the championship battle has been very close. I believe this race is going to be a close fight once between Renault and McLaren, they are performing about the same and McLaren can secure fourth in the constructor’s championship.

2017 vs 2018 Race Data

P1 Fastest

P2 Fastest

P3 Fastest

Q1 Fastest

Q2 Fastest

Q3 Fastest

Race Time

Fastest Lap

2018

01:09.011 01:08.846 01:07.948 01:08.205 01:07.727 01:07.281 01:27:09.066 01:10.540

Diff

-0.191 -0.669 -1.333 -1.200 -0.767 -1.041 -04:17.204 -0.496

2017

01:09.202 01:09.515 01:09.281 01:09.405 01:08.494 01:08.322 01:31:26.262 01:11.044

Tyres

Driver

Team

White Hard (C1)

Yellow Medium (C2)

Red Soft (C3)

L. Hamilton

Mercedes 1 4 8
V. Bottas 2 3

8

S. Vettel

Ferrari 1 2 10

C. Leclerc

1 2 10

M. Verstappen

Red Bull – Honda 1 2 10
A. Albon 1 2

10

D. Riccardo

Renault 2 1 10
N. Hulkenberg 1 2

10

K. Magnussen

Haas – Ferrari 1 2 10
R. Grosjean 1 2

10

C. Sainz Jr

McLaren –Renault 2 3 8
L. Norris 2 3

8

S. Perez

Racing Point – Mercedes 1 2 10
L. Stroll 1 2

10

K. Raikkonen

Alfa Romeo – Ferrari 2 2 9
A. Giovinazzi 1 3

9

D. Kvyat

Toro Rosso –Honda 2 2 9
P. Gasly 1 3

9

G. Russell

Williams –Mercedes 1 3 9
R. Kubica 2 2

9

Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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