Lewis Hamilton has never managed to win the Brazilian Grand Prix, and if he is to keep the momentum going and challenge for the title, he will have to end the curse of Interlagos this weekend. Nico Rosberg has won here for the last two years, and if he can repeat that feat he will be world champion, but on both occasions Lewis will feel he had the speed, if not the luck, to take the win. With Red Bull and Ferrari looking to have the pace to trouble not just each other, but also the front running Mercedes, it promises to be another nail-biting weekend for the championship challengers as the season races to a conclusion.
Brazil has given us multiple championship winning drivers Ayrton Senna, Nelson Piquet and Emerson Fittipaldi, and while each of these champions won their home Grand Prix on two occasions, it is Frenchman Alain Prost who holds the record for the most Brazilian Grand Prix victories, with six wins in total. Of the active drivers Felipe Massa, Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel all have two wins each, while Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen have won here one time each (although Raikkonen was also given a win on the day in 2003, that was subsequently taken away and given to Jordan’s Giancarlo Fisichella). Although Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton have never won the Brazilian Grand Prix, they did both wrap up the drivers title here (Alonso for both his titles in 2005 and 2006, and Hamilton’s memorable first title in 2008), as did Kimi Raikkonen (2007) and Jenson Button (2009), and SebastianVettel (2012).
Last year’ race was saw Mercedes Nico Rosberg take advantage of pole position to secure the victory, Nico holding off team-mate Lewis Hamilton at the first corner, and with Lewis finding it impossible to follow or pass, and Mercedes keeping both drivers on the same strategy for fear of dropping behind the Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari, the race was decided in the pits, with Hamilton unable to leapfrog Rosberg at either stop. It was an impressive display from Vettel, who eased home in third well clear of Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen. While Lewis wasn’t able to make a move on the sister Mercedes, the race saw plenty of overtaking down through the field, with Turn 1 the obvious spot for action, Max Verstappen in particular looking impressive as he dragged his Toro Rosso home in ninth place.
The Brazilian Grand Prix is a tale of two cities, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The first recorded official motor race in Brazil, which was organised by the Sao Paolo Automobile Club, was staged in 1908, a 75 km race on public roads around the suburbs of Sao Paulo, from Itapecerica da Serra to the Parque Antartica in Sao Paulo (a race won for the record books by Sylvio Penteado in a FIAT). The success of the race led to the Brazillian Automobile Club (BAC) staging an event the following year in Rio de Janeiro, a 72 km race on public roads around Sao Goncalo (that event in 1909 being won by Gastao de Almeida in a Berliet). The BAC joined the FIA in 1926, and in 1932 they staged a nation hill climb from Rio de Janeiro to Petropolis, an event won by the king of the mountains Hans Stuck driving his beautiful Mercedez-Benz SSKL.
The Rio de Janeiro Grand Prix was first staged in 1933 (won by Brazilian driver Manuel de Teffe driving an Alfa Romeo) – an event raced on public roads, across the wonderful if slightly crazy Gavea circuit, an 11km blast from the centre of town out to the sea, climbing up along the cliffs before doubling back and winding up through the mountains before dropping back into the town, the track surface changing from asphalt to concrete to sand and gravel to cobbles along the way, with tram lines to contend with to boot. As if the circuit wasn’t difficult enough, the drivers also had to contend with the spectators lining the side of the roads! The race would continue to be run up until 1954, with the track gaining the nickname the Devil’s Springboard! The track would see its share of incident, with the local hero Irineu Correa being killed in an opening lap crash here in 1935 as his car crashed off a tree and threw Correa into the canal, the smashed car following after him. Despite the danger of the circuit, the event drew plenty of interest from international drivers, notable names such as Alberto Ascari and Juan Manuel Fangio taking part over the years.
Sao Paulo would stage its own Grand Prix, with a race held on a course around the city’s roads in 1936. That race was marred by tragedy, French driver Helle Nice (the stage name used by Mariette Helene Delangle, who om addition to driving cars was also a model and dancer at the time) crashing as she attempted to pass Manuel de Teffe for third place. Helle reportedly hit a policeman tasked with keeping the crowds off the street who were surging to see the action. Helle was lucky to survive after being thrown from her car, having initially been feared dead, but five spectators were killed in the crash. The race was won by Carlo Pintacuda in an Alfa Romeo entered by the Scuderia Ferrari. This crash would lead to the stopping of racing on the streets of Sao Paulo, which would lead to the building of the Interlagos circuit, which would go on to stage the Sao Paulo Grand Prix from 1940 (the inaugural race at the track won by Arthur Nascimento Jr driving an Alfa Romeo) until 1947.
The first Brazillian Grand Prix would be staged in 1972 at Interlagos, a non-championship race that would prove as a test run for its introduction to the world championship calendar in 1973. That 1972 race featured a number of the Formula One regulars, and was won by Carlos Reutemann in a Brabham. The first Brazillian Grand Prix to count for the world championship was won in 1973 by local favourite Emerson Fittipaldi driving a Lotus. Interlagos continued to host the Brazilian Grand Prix through to 1977. Fittipaldi won again in 1974 on his way to his second world title in a race cut short by rain. Another Sao Paulo favourite, Carlos Pace, won his only grand prix in 1975, leading home Fittipaldi to the delight of the home crowd. The track would be renamed after Carlos Pace after he was killed in a plane crash in 1977. In 1976, Niki Lauda broke the local dominance of the event, winning for Ferrari. 1977 saw Carlos Reutemann win for Ferrari, a feat he would repeat in 1978 when the Brazillian Grand Prix moved to the newly built Jacarepagua circuit in Rio de Janeiro, a flat track in contrast to the hilly Interlagos. That race marked the the first Grand Prix win for a car running Michelin tyres (also the first Grand Prix win for a radial tyre). The Grand Prix returned to Interlagos for 1979 (a race dominated by Ligier, with Jacques Laffite leading home team-mate Patrick Depailler) and 1980 (with Rene Arnoux taking his first F1 victory for Renault). From 1981 the Brazil Grand Prix relocated back to Rio de Janeiro, where it would run until 1989, Interlagos being deemed unsuitable for modern formula one cars. The 1981 race in Rio was won by Carlos Reutemann for Williams, while Nigel Mansell took the last victory there in 1989 on his first drive for Ferrari. In between Alain Prost (Renault/McLaren) would take 5 wins in Rio, the other two going to Rio hero Nelson Piquet (Brabham/Williams). The Brazil Grand Prix was brought back to Interlagos for 1990, with the circuit after undergoing a major overhaul in a bid to bring it up to the standards required for F1. Alain Prost took the first win on the new shorter track for Ferrari, with Sao Paulo’s latest Formula One here Ayrton Senna losing the chance to win his home race as he tangled unnecessarily with the lapped Tyrrell of Satoru Nakajima while leading Prost, Senna too impatient in lapping the Tyrrell and forced to pit, costing him the chance for a home victory. In 1991 it all came good for Senna, who finally won his first Brazilian Grand Prix, Senna famously having to be helped out of his McLaren exhausted, and struggling to lift the Brazilian flag and trophy aloft on the podium after just hanging on to win from Riccardo Patrese’s Williams, Senna finishing with a gearbox stuck in sixth gear for the latter part of the race.
In 2003 Kimi Raikkonen was initially declared the winner of a wet race that was red flagged after Fernando Alonso’s Renault collided with a loose wheel from Mark Webber’s Jaguar and smashed into a tyre wall, moments after Webber had crashed into the wall and totaled his Jaguar. Raikkonen had been passed on the road prior to the crash by Jordan’s Giancarlo Fisichella , but was deemed the winner and received the trophy as the race result was counted 2 laps prior to the red flag being issued. After Jordan appealed Raikkonen had to hand the trophy over Fisichella at the next race as Jordan successfully argued that the race result should be counted from after Fisichella had passed Raikkonen (Fisichella’s position on the track at the timing of the red flag critical, with Fisichella deemed on review to have started an additional lap prior to the red flag being shown, so the official result was moved a lap forward to after his pass of Kimi). The following year in 2004 the race switching from its traditional early season slot to the back end of the season (a win for Juan Pablo Montoya for Williams in a wet race, Montoya passing McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen into Turn 4 after the pair exited the pit lane nose to tail). The later position on the calendar has resulted in a number of world championships being decided in Brazil – with titles decided in 2005 and 2006 (Fernando Alonso for Renault), 2007 (Kimi Raikkonen for Ferrari), 2008 (Lewis Hamilton for McLaren), 2009 (Jenson Button for Brawn), and in 2012 (Sebastian Vettel for Red Bull).
The track at Interlagos has had two incarnations since it saw it’s first race 1940. The original circuit was much longer than the current version, running for just short of 8 km, while the modern layout is a much shorter 4.3 km. The original track contained most of the current layout, but with additional open blasts connecting the current infield section. At the site of the current Turn 1, the Senna S, the old track kept going, the track running outside the current Turn 3 and then down a longer straight in parallel with the current straight leading to turn 4. The track then curved back through a high speed corner and rejoined the current track after another long straight at what is now Turn 6, the old circuit running the opposite direction to the current layout from the site of Turn 6 back towards the site of the current Turn 1, where the track would double back again through a now abandoned section of track that ran back to join the current layout at Turn 7. The old layout survived with only minor changes and upgrades to the facilities until the track underwent a total overhaul as it was brought up to the standards required to bring Formula One back in 1990. That saw the layout we use today brought into effect, in addition to including an S curve at the first corner connecting immediately to Turn 3 and running in the opposite direction to the old circuit up to Turn 7, there were further changes at the end of the lap as the infield section was re-profiled and the track was tightened at the current Turn 12. The track has seen only minor changes to the layout introduced in 1990, mostly around the pit entry and exit, with the 1990 layout seeing the pit exit fed back into Turn 2, but this was moved to its current entry point on the exit of Turn 3 in 1999, with further changes to the pit entry (adding of chicane) and exit (moving of the exit road). The track, noted for being bumpy, has been resurfaced a number of times over the years, with 2014 the last major revision to the track surface.
From the highest altitude track of the year in Mexico we come back down a bit in Brazil, but it is still the second highest track on the calendar sitting some 800 meters above sea level, so the turbo’s will have another tough weekend. Like Mexico the track runs anti-clockwise, with 43 m elevation change from the high point at Turn 1 to the low point at Turn 5, with plenty of rises and falls around a very short and sometimes bumpy 4.3 km track with 15 turns, with the race distance 71 laps.
From the start there is a very short sprint to the first corner (just 190m), with the front of the grid facing slightly uphill to complicate their getaway. The first series of corners, the Senna S, comprising Turns 1 and 2, is a steep downhill 90 degree lefthander (Turn 1) switching to a right hander (turn 2) as the track levels out, with the first DRS detection point coming just before the cars level out into Turn 2. The first corner will see plenty of action during the race, with the start finish straight hosting the second DRS activation zone on the lap, and plenty of slipping and sliding can be expected as the cars attempt to gain/hold position coming down the hill into the Senna S during the race. Max Verstappen showed us how to get the job done at Turn 1 last year for Toro Rosso with a wonderful move on Sergio Perez’s Force India, Verstappen hanging around the outside of T1 as Perez took to the middle of the track to defend the inside, with Verstappen claiming the spot on the inside in T2) – Max would repeat a similar move on Felipe Nasr’s Sauber later on and also showed us the easier option of an inside pass on Pastor Maldonado’s Lotus as well!! Pastor Maldonado meanwhile showed how easily a move here can go all wrong, squeezing his Lotus too tight up the inside and barging into the Sauber of Marcus Ericcson.
Exiting turn 2 the track winds left onto a long curve (Turn 3), which opens out onto a long straight sloping gently downhill. The pit exit feeds into the start of the straight as the cars exit Turn 3.
Down this straight is the first DRS activation zone, which gives cars another chance to pull out of the slipstream and take a look as they brake hard into Turn 4, a left hander, although in the dry this is more of an opportunity to remind the car in front you are there than an out and out overtaking opportunity – Williams Felipe Massa gave the home crowd something to cheer here last year as he slipped past the Lotus of Pastor Maldonado on the inside of Turn 4 as the Lotus struggled on old tyres at the time (in the end Massa would be disqualified, handing 10th place and a final career world championship point for Maldonado – assuming he does not make it back to the F1 grid in the future). Of course, it is also a handy spot to get past backmarkers – the entry to Turn 4 being the spot where the lapped Arrows of Jos Verstappen famously ploughed into and over the back of race leader Juan Pablo Montoya’s Williams back in 2001– ruining what looked like a certain win for the fiery Columbian. Verstappen had himself been the victim of a huge crash in 1994 as he looked to pass Eddie Irvine in the Jordan as they lapped the Ligier of Eric Bernard, with Verstappen losing control and rolling back across the track as Irvine swiped across him and forced him onto the grass! If Brazil has been a bogey track for Lewis Hamilton, then Turn 4 has been his bogey corner! In 2007 he ran wide on the opening lap while challenging McLaren team mate Fernando Alonso, dropping down the field in a race that saw a world title slip from his grasp in his rookie season. In 2013 he bumped his Mercedes into Valtteri Bottas Williams as Valtteri came around on the outside to unlap himself, Lewis not seeming to expect the Williams being there, and picking up a puncture as well as a penalty for his trouble. In 2014 he handed Rosberg the win when spinning off here as he tried to put in a fast enough lap to leapfrog Nico in the pits.
The track dips down at Turn 4, with the cars accelerating through the left hand curve of Turn 5, the lowest point of the track. The cars run wide on the exit of Turn 5 as they head on to another short straight, the cars climbing again as the move over to the left side of the track before braking into Turn 6, a fast right hander that winds right on exit through Turn 7 and on into Turn 8, the cars braking hard as the track winds back on itself through the slow right hander. Exiting Turn 8 the track dips back down as the cars wind around the long left handed loop of Turn 9, with the track moving winding right on exit as the cars arrive into the slow right hand hairpin Turn 10, with the cars darting down a short straight before curving left through Turn 11, climbing the hill and braking hard at Turn 12, another left hander that winds the cars around for the stretch back to the start/finish straight. This was the spot where Ayrton Senna spun his Williams into retirement in pursuit of Michael Schumacher’s Benetton in the 1994 season opener, and where Lewis Hamilton passed Timo Glock on the last lap in 2008 to secure his first drivers title. From the exit of Turn 12 the cars are flat out as they climb the hill all the way back to Turn 1, the track curving right at Turn 13, with the second DRS detection point just past the bend, the cars continuing to accelerate up the hill as the track winds around to the left, the cars flat out through the left hand bend of Turn 14 and past the pit entry line as the curve slightly left though the last turn, Turn 15 and onto the start/finish straight, with the second DRS activation zone and a chance to attack into the Turn 1.
TYRES WITH PIRELLI:
The penultimate round of the world championship takes place at the intense, rapid and colourful Interlagos circuit. Although resurfaced relatively recently, it still provides a massive challenge with a constant series of high-energy corners and the potential for some very high temperatures. As a result, the P Zero Orange hard tyre makes its final appearance of the 2016 season alongside the medium and the soft: a combination last seen in Japan.
THE CIRCUIT FROM A TYRE POINT OF VIEW:
- Interlagos is the second-shortest lap of the year, but probably the most intense as the cars are constantly cornering and dealing with traffic. This adds to the demands on the tyres.
- The resurfacing a couple of years ago increased grip levels and smoothed out the bumps.
- A very wide variety of weather conditions are possible, from intense heat to heavy rain.
- Interlagos is one of the few anti-clockwise circuits, with the right-rear tyre doing the most work.
- Tyres are often subjected to combined lateral and longitudinal forces, which increase demand.
THE THREE NOMINATED COMPOUNDS:
- Orange hard: used for only the fifth time in 2016. Mandatory set: must be available for the race.
- White medium: another mandatory set, which is set to form a key part of the race strategy.
- Yellow soft: despite the heavy demands of the track, this compound has raced in Brazil before.
HOW IT WAS A YEAR AGO:
- Nico Rosberg won the 71-lap race with a three-stop strategy, starting on soft and then stopping for mediums on laps 13, 33 and 48. The top three all stopped three times.
- Best alternative strategy: Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth with a two-stop strategy, starting on soft and then switching to mediums on laps 12 and 46.
PAUL HEMBERY, PIRELLI MOTORSPORT DIRECTOR:
“We’re seeing the hard tyres in Brazil for the first time since 2013, which should prove to be very effective against the high-energy demands of the track. In 2015 we had a three-stop race, so with the increase in performance and downforce this year, taking a harder tyre – which has nonetheless been a very rare occurrence this season – was the only sensible option to offer a number of different strategy variables. Balancing its durability against the extra performance of the softer compounds will hold the key to the race tactics. The weather will obviously play a big part in these calculations too.”
- The Interlagos circuit recently had a major upgrade; meaning no further changes this year.
- Testing of the wider 2017 rain tyres continued for two days with Red Bull in Abu Dhabi last week.
- Pirelli has been announced as exclusive tyre supplier to the Bathurst 12 Hour race next year.
- Another exclusive deal for Pirelli means that it will supply Trans Am in the USA from 2017.
OTHER THINGS THAT HAVE CAUGHT OUR EYE RECENTLY:
- The championship title could be decided in Brazil, but only in Nico Rosberg’s favour.
- Both the Mercedes drivers have chosen identical tyre selections for Interlagos.
In the battle between the Mercedes drivers the momentum is all with Lewis Hamilton. While Nico Rosberg has taken pole to flag victories here in Brazil the last two years, Lewis will still feel he has had the measure of Nico in terms of speed at this track, but will be well aware of the importance of securing pole position and keeping track position into the first corner. Nico was never on Lewis pace in Mexico, and while he will be relieved to have survived with second place there, he desperately needs to get his act together in qualifying in Brazil if he is not to let the opportunity of a drivers title slip between his fingers and allow Lewis a miracle recovery (something Lewis will know all about after his implosion in 2007). With the pace of the Red Bulls, and the potential pace of the Ferrari’s should they get their act together for once , the last thing Nico can afford is to be beaten off the line by Lewis at this race. The Red Bulls should pose a genuine threat to both Mercedes this weekend. Max Verstappen certainly won’t be going easy on either of the championship challengers no matter what Niki Lauda or Toto Wolff might wish, Max having looked the standout driver around Interlagos last year, and he will be pushing hard to get the best result available to him, while Sebastian Vettel really needs to prove he is worth his status at Ferrari – in all the fuss over Sebastian’s radio melt down in Mexico it’s easy to forget that his performance was possibly the best of his season – up until he tried to pass Max Verstappen anyway!). Vettel looked good here last year, and Ferrari will be under fierce pressure to prevent 2016 becoming another winless season. Daniel Ricciardo somehow finds himself in the shadow of Verstappen no matter what he does, but his consistent performances over the second half of the season will mean he is a threat as well with Red Bull able to afford to take divergent strategies to put pressure on Mercedes (who may well freeze like rabbits in the headlights when encountered with a strategy dilemma, not wanting to be seen to favour one of their drivers over the other). Of course, Kimi Raikkonen could just get involved too! Further down Nico Hulkenberg had a wonderful outing for Force India in Mexico, and has had his career highlights at Interlagos (taking pole in the wet in 2010 and battling for the win in the wet 2012) – should there be a spot of rain maybe he could atone for his 2012 indiscretion (crashing into Lewis Hamilton while attempting to grab the lead for Force India) and secure his first podium position – what a going away present that would be! Williams have it all to do to pass Force India before the season ends, and will be hoping Felipe Massa can dig deep and deliver a performance worthy of signing off his long career in his final F1 outing in Brazil.
1993– Senna surprise as Prost slips up
At the end of 1992 Honda withdrew from F1, leaving McLaren without a works engine deal. Rather than walking away from the sport McLaren made do with a customer version of the Ford V8, Benetton having the rights to the latest specification of the Ford engine. Ayrton Senna wasn’t committing to the cause, and initially appeared on a race by race basis only. At the opening round of the season in South Africa, Senna had put in a spirited display, scampering away from the grid to take the lead and defending fiercely throughout the race against first Prost and then the factory Ford powered Benetton of Michael Schumacher. Despite Senna’s best efforts he could only come home a distant second to the much faster Williams-Renault of arch-rival Alain Prost, Schumacher getting a lesson in muscular defensive driving from Senna as the Benetton spun into retirement whilst trying to pass Senna for second place. Arriving for his home race in Brazil, there could not have been much hope for victory for Senna. McLaren were pushing to try to get engine parity with Benetton, but Benetton were having nothing of it yet– Flavio Briatore surely knowing the value of a contract! Williams locked out the front row in qualifying, Prost easily ahead of his inexperienced team mate Damon Hill, with Senna managing to edge out Schumacher to take third, but a whopping 1.8 seconds slower than Prost in the dominant Renault powered Williams. As the race began Prost got away cleanly, while Senna snatched second place from Hill with an aggressive dive down the inside of Turn 1. Michael Schumacher dropped back into Turn 1, losing out to the Ferrari of Jean Alesi and the Sauber of JJ Lehto, although Schumacher would quickly get by Lehto and start harassing Alesi. Behind, the second McLaren of Michael Andretti got tangled up with the Ferrari of Gerhard Berger as they accelerated off the grid, with both cars smashing off into the barriers on the outside of Turn 1, with Andretti’s McLaren spinning through the air as it bounced off the wall. Prost eased off into the distance, the McLaren not able to keep pace, and Senna soon started to come under pressure from Damon Hill in the second Williams, the McLaren surely easy prey for the mighty Williams-Renault, the battle closely followed by Schumacher, who had dispatched Alesi on the second lap to join the hunt in fourth place. Just as in South Africa Senna did all he could to resist the faster cars, but with Prost escaping into the distance it seemed like a lost cause, and inevitably Hill passed Senna, diving down the inside into Turn 1 on lap 11. By now Prost had already a dominant 9 second advantage over Hill, and Schumacher’s Benetton was now tucked up behind Senna to keep the pressure on the McLaren star, with a large gap back to Alesi, who was having a battle with the two Saubers of Lehto and Karl Wendlinger. The race up front seemed a foregone conclusion, the Williams in a class of their own, and Schumacher looking sure to pass Senna. Lehto and Wendlinger provided interest by managing to get by Alesi’s Ferrari. Senna’s day seemed to be going from bad to worse as he was handed a stop and go penalty for overtaking the lapped Larousse of Erik Comas under yellow flags. Senna served his penalty on lap 25, and rejoined in fourth behind Schumacher. But the race was now turned on its head as it started raining on the track. With the rain starting to get heavier Senna was the first of the front runners to duck into the pits for wets, coming in on lap 27. Prost stayed out but Hill was in on lap 28. With conditions worsening the safety car was deployed after Aguri Suzuki (Footowrk) and Ukyo Katayama (Tyrrell) came to grief on the main straight on lap 28, both clouting into the wall in separate incidents. With the safety car coming out it seemed logical to expect race leader Alain Prost to pit for wets, but he continued on past the pits after a mixup with the Williams pit crew – a mistake that would cost him the race. Shortly after crossing the line, well before the safety car could pick him up, Prost was sliding off the track at turn 1, bumping into the stationary Minardi of Christian Fittipaldi which had spun in front of him, and coming to a slow halt into the gravel. Prost was out! As the safety car picked up the field, it was Hill leading from Senna, then Schumacher (who had pitted last of the leaders and lost further time with a poor stop), Alesi, Johnny Herbert in the first Lotus, JJ Lehto and Alessandro Zanardi in the second Lotus. The race restarted on lap 37, with the track still wet but with dry sections around the circuit. Hill eased away as Senna dived past the lapped Derick Warwick’s Footwork to latch immediately onto Hill’s gearbox into the first corner. But Hill didn’t succumb to the pressure, and managed to open a gap to the McLaren. The track was drying out by the lap however, and Senna came in for slicks at the end of lap 40, already 3 seconds down on Hill, with Schumacher in the pits for slicks immediately behind Senna. Hill pitted the next lap, and rejoined ahead of Senna. Senna was pushing hard and managed to brush past Hill before Hill got his slicks up to speed, the McLaren darting past in determined fashion on the wet side of the track. Alesi and Schumacher were both hit with stop and go penalties, and when the order had shaken out it was Senna leading from Hill, with Johnny Herbert (who had stopped for slicks as soon as the safety car pulled off) up to a fine third from Phillipe Alliot in the Larousse and JJ Lehto in the Sauber. Senna eased clear of Hill, who seemed to have settled for second place, and there was no more challenge at the front as Senna would go on to record a famous home victory. Behind him Alliot dropped back and the Saubers both dropped out, a disappointing end for the Swiss team who were competing in F1 for the first year in 1993. Mark Blundell in the Ligier was coming on strong, up to fourth behind Herbert, but Michael Schumacher was coming on stronger, with Schumacher hunting down Blundell and passing him into Turn 1 on lap 65. On lap 69 Schumacher pulled out of Herberts slipstream to pass him into Turn 4, only for Herbert to cut back inside him as the Benetton ran wide, Herbert regaining the place on the run down into Turn 5. Schumacher wasn’t to be denied, and took the position for good on the penultimate lap into Turn 1, the two having gone wheel to wheel down the straight, but Schumacher prevailed, locking up his Benetton as he braked late into the corner to pass keep ahead of the Lotus and secure the final podium position. For Herbert fourth equalled his previous best result (obtained on his debut, the 1989 Brazilian Grand Prix in Rio), while Mark Blundell came fifth, with Alessandro Zanardi taking what would be his only Formula One championship point in sixth place. But the day belonged to Senna, who had taking a shock win, and in so doing put his under-powered McLaren into a surprise lead of the drivers championship.
2008– Misery for Massa as Hamilton is Champion
Is it really 8 years ago already? Coming into the final race of the 2008 season, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton seemed to have his hand on his first drivers title, needing only a fifth place finish to guarantee the title over Felipe Massa in the Ferrari, but after his experience in 2007, when he had seen a 17 point lead over Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen evaporate with 2 races (and 20 points) to go, he would be taking nothing for granted. In qualifying Felipe Massa kept his hopes alive with a pole positon, while Hamilton was in fourth place behind Toyota’s Jarno Trulli (2nd) and the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. On race day it rained, and the field lined up on the grid on wet weather tyres. The first four got off the line in order, but the racing was stopped before it could get going, with the safety car deployed on the first lap after a couple of crashes behind the front runners, David Coulthard’s Formula One Career being ended by the team that gave him is break as he was hit by both the Williams cars, and Nelson Piquet spinning his Renault out all by himself. Giancarlo Fisichella took advantage of the safety car to pit for inters on lap 2, with the safety car pulling off on lap four. Fisichella began to top the times, and one by one the cars started to come in for inters. Ferrari pulled Massa in first of the front runners on lap 10, while McLaren brought in Kovalainen and left Hamilton for the next lap, pitting just behind Raikonnen and Trulli. When the stops had played out Hamilton was down in seventh, McLaren playing it overly cautious to avoid a DNF that would gift the title to a Ferrari driver for the second straight year. Massa led with Sebastian Vettel (who had made ground after stopping on lap 7) in the Toro Rosso chasing him down, followed by Fernando Alonso (Renault, also pitted on lap 7), Kimi Raikkonen, Giancarlo Fisichella, Jarno Trulli then Hamilton. Needing only fifth place though things were soon back under control, with Lewis getting by Trulli quickly as Jarno slid wide into Turn 1, and then moving into the all-important fifth position, pulling out of Fisichella’s slipstream and taking the inside position into Turn 1. Vettel was continuing to apply pressure on Massa, but it was no relief to Massa when he pitted on lap 27 (having started on a lighter fuel load Vettel would have to pit twice for fuel), as this promoted Hamilton to fourth. Massa pitted for fuel on lap 38, with Hamilton following on lap 40, and by the time Sebastian vettel had made his second stop on lap 51, the order was Massa leading from Alonso, Raikkonen and Hamilton. Lewis seemed secure in his bid for the title, but then the rain returned. Massa was comfortable in front at this stage, but Hamilton had been coming under pressure from Vettel for fourth. Never mind, he still had a position to spare, but when the rain fell this all changed, as Toyota rolled the dice and left their cars out on track while the front runners pitted for wet tyres. This meant Timo Glock got the jump on Hamilton, and now Lewis was fifth. Fifth became sixth when Sebastian Vettel passed Hamiton on lap 69 as Lewis ran wide at Turn 12 in the tricky conditions. If things finished as they were Massa would be champion! Hamilton tried to stay with Vettel, but didn’t look like he could regain his position, and as the crossed the line for the start of the last lap it looked like Massa would pull of a remarkable championship win, with Vettel holding off Hamilton and the next car up the road of Timo Glock some 13 seconds ahead of Vettel. Massa crossed the line to take the win from Alonso and Raikkonen, and as the Ferrari camp celebrated an unlikely championship, the unthinkable happened. As the rain continued to fall, Glock in fourth was struggling to keep his car on the track, and as he reached the end of the lap, first Vettel, then Hamilton surged by him, with Hamilton taking the fifth place he needed for the title at the same corner where he had lost the position to Vettel a few laps earlier, diving up the inside as this time Glock struggled to keep his car on the circuit! It was a heart-breaking end for Felipe Massa at his home race, who ended the year with six wins to Hamilton’s five but came up agonizingly short of the title, but it was redemption for Lewis, who had so cruelly lost the title the previous season in Brazil when it seemed he had it sewn up with two races to go.
The entertainment in between the Formula One sessions will be provided by the local Porsche Challenge and Porsche Cup this weekend.
|2013||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault|
|2011||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault|
|2010||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault|
|2009||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault|