Round twenty and the penultimate round of the 2018 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 to 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 1940’s 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.
Interlagos is one of the more challenging circuits, with tight twisting corners and accidents are common on the opening lap as drivers head through the Senna S’s and the Curva do Sol before the run down to turn four. Interlagos remains a highlight of the season, despite losing its status as the final race of the season.
Like in Mexico, Interlagos remains at altitude meaning that cars have less oxygen and that offsets some of the power advantages that both Mercedes and Ferrari.
Two of the first races here in F1 were won by locals Emerson Fittipaldi and Carlos Place. Also tasting success at home was Felipe Massa in 2006 and 2008, that race a decade ago proved one of the most dramatic season enders. Massa looked on course for the championship, before Lewis Hamilton got passed Timo Glock as he ran wide at the final corner allowing Hamilton
After a brief spell in Rio where the Olympic Park now sits and the success of Ayrton Senna, the race returned to Interlagos. Over the last twenty-five years the circuit has seen the highs and lows, titles won and lost. Alain Prost took his fortieth career win in 1990, then becoming the most successful driver in the history of the sport.
It was an emotionally and physically draining win for Ayrton Senna the following year. He was forced to drive the race stuck in sixth gear but managed to hang on to take a win. Between 2005-2009, five titles where decided Fernando Alonso twice, Kimi Raikkonen and the dual between Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton in 2008.
Interlagos remains a power circuit and high downforce are required, but the speed and downforce required means that getting in a position to overtake can be difficult. Interlagos can provide drama and action from the very start, Mercedes will be looking to wrap up the constructors.
Facts and figures
|Race||Formula 1 Grande Premio Heineken do Brasil 2018|
|Venue||Autódromo José Carlos Pace, São Paulo, Brazil|
|Circuit Length||4.309 km (2.677 mi)|
|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)|
- 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.
- Sao Paulo is the largest city in South America has a huge coffee plantation very near the iconic Avenida Paulista. There are about 1,500 coffee plants rooted within the Instituto Biológico in the neighbourhood of Vila Mariana
- 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.
- Altitude is a factor at Interlagos: the circuit is 800m above sea-level. Cars require more wing for a given level of downforce than they would at sea-level; however, the thinner air does mean a corresponding reduction in drag. For engines, the reduced amount of available oxygen leads to a decrease in power.
- Nico Hulkenberg landed the one and only pole position of his career to date at Interlagos in 2010. Only two other drivers have secured a maiden pole position at the Brazilian GP: Ronnie Peterson (1973), and James Hunt (1976).
What happened in 2017?
Sebastian Vettel took victory after passing Valtteri Bottas into the first corner, before using strategy to stay ahead of the Mercedes. The Finn had tried to use the undercut to try and remain ahead but finished three seconds behind the German. Kimi Raikkonen held off Mercedes Lewis Hamilton to take third, it was a great recovery by the four times champion who started from the pit lane.
After the disappointment of 2016, Felipe Massa finished seventh beating his former teammate Fernando Alonso in his final home race. The two former teammates cross the line with less than a second between them. The Spaniard applauded Massa as the Brazilian returned to the pits and his eighth-place
What to watch for?
Interlagos is a circuit which always can create drama most commonly through the Senna S on the opening lap as drivers fight for position into the first comer. Overtaking isn’t the easiest thing here because of the narrow track, the way the track flows and the current regulations make following difficult.
The weather can also be a factor, teams know that rain can form easily around Sao Paulo and this makes the track very difficult to drive because of drainage being an issue. Tyre strategy becomes key in these conditions as we have seen races won and lost by switching tyres at the right or wrong time.
Red Bull will be again in the mix as this is a circuit which requires downforce rather than outright speed. Qualifying is seen as where things can play a huge part in the outcome of the race, but being on track at the right time can be important with the conditions and can make a difference in track conditions.
2017 vs 2018 Race Data
|P1 Fastest||P2 Fastest||P3 Fastest||Q1 Fastest||Q2 Fastest||Q3 Fastest||Race Time||Fastest Lap|
|D. Ricciardo||Red Bull – Tag Heuer||9||3||1|
|S. Perez||Force India – Mercedes||8||4||1|
|S. Sirotkin||Williams – Mercedes||9||3||1|
|F. Alonso||McLaren – Renault||7||4||2|
|P. Gasly||Toro Rosso –Honda||8||3||2|
|R. Grosjean||Haas – Ferrari||9||3||1|
|M. Ericsson||Sauber – Alfa Romeo||9||2||2|