The championship has been decided but Lewis Hamilton has yet to take a win at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Will this coming weekend be his weekend or will Nico Rosberg, or any other driver, deny the 2015 World Champion?
The track was created as a result of a suburban development between two reservoirs near Sao Paulo, and the financial misfortune of the developers, whose goal was to turn it into houses. As the motor racing scene grew, the Automobile Club of Brazil took advantage of the land and turned it into what would be one of the most famous circuits on the Formula One calendar.
The first Grand Prix was held at the track in 1972, which was won by Carlos Reutemann, before the track hosted five consecutive World Championship Brazilian Grands Prix between 1973 and 1977. The race disappeared to Rio de Janeiro for one year, and then the hometown of Nelson Piquet became the sole host of the race from 1981 to 1989 after the local government would not invest into the Interlagos circuit.
The Brazilian Grand Prix has been held at the Interlagos track (renamed as the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace from 1985) ever since, albeit on a smaller 4.3 kilometre circuit rather than the original circuit, which was almost eight kilometres long and is still visible from aerial photos of the circuit.
In 2014 the circuit was completely resurfaced, with a much smoother surface. Following a series of heavy accidents in national races, the pit lane was reprofiled with the entry brought forward from the Arquibancadas corner to move it off the racing line and a chicane added to the pit lane to further slow cars entering the pits. Work continued into 2015 culminating in the completion of new pits.
The circuit starts with a tight downhill S bend, before going into a high speed curve and straight that makes up the first DRS zone on the track, one of two places where drivers can get up to a top speed of around 315 kilometres per hour (the other being the final straight). Following this, the track curves round as the tight, twisty second sector begins.
The third sector is effectively an opportunity for the drivers to accelerate as much as possible out of turn 12, which is always fun to see, and does provide a good overtaking opportunity going into the end of the DRS zone and turn 1.
The cars are on full throttle for around 46% of the lap, and will be looking at making 42 gear changes over the 4.3 kilometre high downforce circuit. The lap record at the circuit was set by Juan Pablo Montoya for Williams in the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Who will take the honours this weekend? Will Hamilton come out guns a blazing and wipe the floor with Nico Rosberg and all others or will the latter keep his ‘anger’ from Austin and make it two in a row?
It is highly likely that we will see both Mercedes’ on the podium this coming weekend. Both drivers are on form and neither want’s to lose against the other. The odds however must favour Rosberg. In 2014 he won the race from pole and in 2013 he outqualified Hamilton and finished in front of the Brit in the race.
Sebastian Vettel was the nearest challenger to the Silver Arrows however last time out the German appeard to suffer from… well he did not put in the performance you would expect of him.
Bottas appears to be the most consistent of the two Williams drivers but it is Massa’s home race and the Brazillian would no doubt want to do well in front of his supporters.
And then we have the Toro Rosso and Red Bull drivers. Will they or will they not take the upgraded Renault power unit this weekend and what difference can it make if they have to fight from down the grid. All four drivers however are on form, perhaps young Verstappen most of all and let’s not forget Kvyat.
Only two drivers on the grid have won the race on multiple occasions – Sebastian Vettel (2010, 2013), Felipe Massa (2006, 2008) – and those two drivers are the only ones on the grid to have achieved multiple pole positions while only four races have been won from pole position since 2003.
So it is all to play for at the Mercedes house, if Rosberg wins he will have two wins at the track (multiple winner). If Hamilton wins then it’s one each but it is safe to say it will bug the tripple world chamion that he has not won at the track and Rosberg has.
Pirelli and the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace
The P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft compound have been nominated for this year’s Brazilian Grand Prix: the most popular combination of the season, which has been selected for the ninth and final time in 2015.
Brazil is one of the shortest but most intense laps of the year, with the circuit running in an anti- clockwise direction, which is quite unusual in Formula One. There is plenty of work for both the tyres and the drivers – as the Interlagos track requires a high degree of physical effort – and the situation is often made more complex by variable weather conditions. Last year, the hottest track temperatures recorded all season were in Brazil, but the race has also been affected by heavy rain in the past. If it remains dry, Interlagos is ideal territory for the versatile medium and soft slick compounds.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “Interlagos is one of those historic venues that has helped to shape the history of Formula One, so it’s a pleasure to come here and experience once more the unique atmosphere and passion from the local fans, at the end of what is our first American triple header in Formula One, with races in the United States, Mexico and now Brazil.
South America and Brazil in particular is one of Pirelli’s biggest global markets, so this is a particularly important race for us, as we are so widely represented here. The changes to the asphalt at Interlagos last year altered the pattern of tyre behaviour, so it will be interesting to see how that affects tyre usage this year.
Traditionally, Interlagos is quite a high-energy circuit for tyres, so we would expect to see two or three pit stops for the majority of competitors. As always though, we will only have an accurate picture of the real situation after the opening free practice sessions on Friday.”
The biggest challenges for the tyres:
The re-asphalting of the circuit last year changed the abrasion levels of the surface, and it is also possible that there will be some additional patches of new asphalt again this year. Other improvements to the circuit this year include a new pit complex.
The circuit is rear-limited, with the right-rear tyre being the most stressed due to the anti-clockwise layout – which is also the case at the next and final venue on the calendar, in Abu Dhabi.
Tyres are often subjected to combined forces at Interlagos: in other words lateral and longitudinal demands at the same time. This raises the temperature of the compound. Downforce levels are generally high, with aerodynamic and mechanical grip requirements roughly in equal proportion.
Last year’s strategy and how the race was won: There was heatwave last year, so this was not entirely typical of what we would expect to see this time. In 2014, Nico Rosberg won the race for Mercedes using a three-stop strategy. He started on the soft tyre and then changed to the medium on laps seven, 26 and 50. The highest-placed two-stopper, Kimi Raikkonen, finished seventh.
Expected performance gap between the two compounds: 0.9 seconds per lap.
Brembo and the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace
This is a very ‘driven’ track with long, fast turns that translate into not-so-demanding braking sections. Of the track’s 7 braking sections, none are particularly difficult for the braking system which has plenty of time to cool down despite the fact that the drivers have a foot on the brake pedal for about 17% of the time.
* Turn 01 is considered the most demanding for the braking system.
1980 – The final race on the original Interlagos track saw Gilles Villeneuve take the lead after the start, but due to a lack of pace with his Ferrari in comparison to his competitors, he was overtaken by three of his competitors by the end of the second lap. John-Pierre Jabouille led the race, while Didier Pironi, Jacques Laffite and Rene Arnoux gave chase, before Pironi retired with a skirt problem, Laffite had an electrical problem and Jabouille had a turbo failure, handing the lead to Arnoux.
1991 – Notable for Ayrton Senna suffering gearbox problems, leading him to have to drive around without third, fourth and fifth gears. With the Brazilian trying his hardest and taking corners in sixth gear, he managed to hold of Riccardo Patrese to take the victory, an act that would leave him so exhausted that he would have to be lifted from his car.
1993 – Alain Prost seemed to have the title race under control, but despite not being affected by a big accident on the first lap, he spun off and hit Christian Fittipaldi as the rain started to fall. This brought out a safety car that led to Damon Hill’s lead over Senna being wiped out, and the Brazilian took advantage to overtake the Brit and take both victory and the lead in the world championship.
2003 – David Coulthard and Rubens Barrichello were involved in a battle for the lead as torrential rain kept falling on the circuit. The Brazilian driver spun off, before Coulthard and his teammate Kimi Raikkonen pitted, putting Giancarlo Fisichella in the lead for the Jordan team, despite starting the race in last place. Webber crashed into the wall, and then Alonso was not able to avoid the debris, leading to a red flag. Eventually the stewards awarded the race victory to Raikkonen as he had led on lap 53, but a court decision said that the result should be taken from lap 54, the lap after the McLaren driver pitted.
2008 – Lewis Hamilton dramatically won the Formula One world championship on the final lap of the final race of the season at Interlagos. Needing to finish in fifth place to have any chance of becoming champion while Felipe Massa led the race, Sebastian Vettel overtook the British driver to take fifth place, but on the final lap Hamilton got past Timo Glock – who had the misfortune of staying on dry tyres – in order to win the championship.
This weekend, Formula One welcomes the domestic Mercedes Benz Challenge with its two classes, C250 Cup and Cup CLA AMG. Joining them will be the Porsche Cup and Porsche Challenge series.
Senior manager of Marketing and Sales of Mercedes-Benz of Brazil, Dirlei Dias, says it will be great for the challengers to drive on the international circuit stating that the 80,000 strong crowd will make it very exciting, as will the drivers.
Of course with the Mercedes AMG F1 team having clisnhed both drivers’ and constructors’ championships it is a great time for the German brand to show that you may not be able to drive the cars of Lewis or Nico but you can own your own slice of glory.. so to speak.
Of course let us not forget that Porsche is also represented with the Cup and Challenge. This coming weekend is the penultimate round of the 9 round series.
In the Cup, Constantino Jr. leads Miguel Paludo by 13 points. In the Challenge JP Mauro leads Fabio Alves by 16 points. Both championships have yet to be decided but with only one round left after this weekend the chasers will have to pull out all stops to overtake Constantino and Mauro (pun intended).
|2013||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault|
|2011||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault|
|2010||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault|
|2009||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault|
|2005||Juan Pablo Montoya||McLaren-Mercedes|