Following the excitement of the new Mexican GP, the teams and drivers’ thoughts now turn towards the penultimate round of the 2016 F1 championship in Brazil. It’s another Autodromo that will be the home of the F1 circus for a weekend, however, not every driver is enamoured with the circuit layout.
Daniel Ricciardo is one of them and when asked about the secret to the perfect lap in Sao Paulo, he replied “I don’t think I’ve ever done one [perfect lap of Interlagos], so I’ve got no secrets!”
The Red Bull Aussie ace has never really found a flow around Interlagos. “What I have learned is that you shouldn’t think ahead too much. You have to take it corner-by-corner and concentrate on the one you’re in. There’s not many that you string together. There’s not many corners full stop”.
And the Brazilian GP has not been a happy hunting ground for Daniel either. He was parachuted into the doomed HRT team to replace Narain Karthikeyan with 11 races to go in 2011 and in the final event of the year in Brazil, he finished a lowly 20th in the race.
During his two years at Toro Rosso, Ricciardo fared somewhat better, though in both 2013 and 2014 he failed to make it into the points finishing 13th and 11th respectively. Having been promoted last year to the Big Bull team, Ricciardo hoped his run of form in South America would improve, but he retired from the race with suspension failure from P8. This ended a run for the Aussie of 15 consecutive races where he had scored points for Red Bull Racing.
It’s not often when the smiling Australian is less than optimistic, though his thoughts on the upcoming event maybe best described as pragmatic. “Brazil’s a wonderful Grand Prix with a great atmosphere in an exciting city but the track doesn’t really do it for me. There’s just not a corner that gives you any real satisfaction. I don’t want to make it sound dull, because it isn’t, but like Russia, there isn’t a corner that makes you go ‘Woooo-Hoooo!’
It needs a few more corners and something really high speed. There’s a couple that look good on paper but because of the cambers, you never really have the grip to go barrelling in. The crowd really gets your heart-rate up before the sessions, so you want to be really on it but instead have to be very patient.
“The start-finish straight is very narrow, so if your grid slot is on the outside, you’re about two metres away from the grandstand. You better hope they [the crowd] like you because if not you’re a pretty easy target when you’re pulling your helmet on! It’s a good time though. Lots of noise, lots of airhorns,
trumpets, drums. Like Mexico, it’s the crowd you want for a Grand Prix. Brazilians are cool.”
Given the Red Bull will be running at least one car with the first upgraded Renault power unit of the year and that the Red Bull chassis has always worked well in Interlagaos – so even with a 10 place grid penalty, Ricciardo can realistically hope to break his points duck in Brazil. Reliability willing.