Interlagos: What You Need to Know

Fact File: Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Laps 71
Lap Length 4.309km (2.677miles)
Race Length 305.909km (190.067miles)
First Race 1972
Fastest Lap 1:11.473 JP Montoya (Williams 2004)
2010 Winner S Vettel (Red Bull)

Overview:

One of the best for spectators as from the grandstands you can see over half the track, so if you fancy a trip to South America in the near future it probably be best to wait until November time and take in the Formula 1 atmosphere. Currently one of the shortest tracks on the calendar, but conversely is also one of the slowest. But things haven’t always been this way, before the 1990s it was one of the longest at almost 8km, now standing at just over half that.

Regular feedback from the drivers and their teams about this track is about how challenging it is to race on. The track itself is incredibly bumpy, this mean high tyre degradation and that the drivers will have to be on high alert about managing them to ensure pit stops are kept to a minimum, the pit lane is one of the longest. The other factor is the heat, you might be thankful for the glorious weather on holiday, but imagine racing around in that for 1.5 hours, less experienced drivers can suffer from fatigue and dehydration.

And with most of the races (and testing) done on tracks that run clockwise, here we switch it up and go the other way. It may not seem like a huge deal, but the driver’s bodies aren’t used to significant G-force of their left side, making it a true test of strength and endurance.

This year may not be the scene of the nail-biting final we saw last year in Abu Dhabi, but it doesn’t mean we’re without any drama. The BBC/Sky deal is still a hot topic, along with next years line up and Rubens Barrichello. The grand daddy of Formula 1 is up against it with young blood breathing down his neck and fellow Brazilian Felipe Massa advising him to retire before resorting to using sponsor money to keep a seat. But mainly it’s to ensure he gets a well earned and much deserved send off.

Overtaking and Strategy:

In Brazil we have two main places for overtaking, one is Senna’s S at the end of the pit straight, using the speed they’ve picked up through the long straight it will be the bravest on the brake who prevails. The other is Descida do Lago, at the end of the Reta Oposta (back straight) where the DRS excitement is located.

Choosing the right set up on the day is a major headache for the engineers, they have to put a car on to the grid that is mechanically balanced and select tires that will last the race. To achieve the optimum aerodynamic efficiency over the lap they also have to consider the effect of full throttle on the long straights. Why? High altitude, that’s why. The thinning air drains the car of around 8% overall power over a lap. Those millions the team pump into shaving tenths off the car literally evaporates out of the engine.

Tyres:

Prime compound: Medium (white)

Option compound: Soft (yellow)

DRS:

Detection zone 1: Apex of turn 2

Activation zone 1: 133m before exit of turn 3

Why Brazil Rocks:

Really, you need help with this one? It’s Brazil! The fans go crazy for their home drivers, they go crazy for the other drivers (maybe not so much for Hamilton after 2008 though…), they go crazy for Formula 1. In short it’s all about passion and there are few other places the drivers can feel that as they lap the circuit, the design of the grandstands allow some of the best viewing spectators can enjoy regardless of the ticket they hold in their lucky mitts. Not only this but it provides a challenge for the drivers which they always look forward too, this may be at the end of a long season but Interlagos is the carrot.

5 Key Points:

  • Anti-clockwise
  • Short and bumpy circuit
  • Altitude affecting the engines output
  • Fitting end to the season
  • Home track for Felipe Massa, Bruno Senna and Rubens Barrichello.
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