Preview: Brazilian Grand Prix, Round 20 at Interlagos

Grid girls. Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday 7 November 2010.

Nov.21 (FIA) São Paulo welcomes Formula One as the teams assemble at Interlagos for the 20th and final round of the 2012 FIA  Formula One World Championship. The Brazilian Grand Prix has been the scene of much drama since it moved from the beginning to the end of the F1 season and it has the opportunity to be so again as Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso go head-to-head around the famous Autódromo José Carlos Pace, each seeking to become a three-time world champion, but Vettels would be a hat trick.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB7 leads at the start of the race. Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday 27 November 2011.Interlagos has never struggled to provide entertainment. The roller-coaster configuration provides several excellent overtaking prospects, while the off-camber corners and uphill / downhill braking zones provide ample opportunities for error.

The weather often plays a part and the Safety Car has seen action frequently in recent years. In short, it is the perfect venue for a championship showdown.

Cut into a hillside, the circuit is a natural amphitheatre, providing the huge and usually raucous crowd with superb views of the action as the circuit drops from the heights of the start-finish straight down to the Descida do Lago section at Turns Four and Five. It then winds back and forth across the bowl before reaching the Junção corner followed by the long full-throttle ascent back to the line.

(L to R): Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari. Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday 23 March 2012. BEST IMAGERed Bull Racing wrapped up the constructors’ championship last weekend in Austin at the United States Grand Prix, leaving the field clear for the drivers’ championship to be the sole focus of attention in Brazil. Going to Interlagos, Sebastian Vettel leads Fernando Alonso by 13 points.

With a superior win record in 2012, Vettel will take the title if the pair finish tied on points – meaning that Vettel can afford to finish as low as fourth and still be guaranteed his third F1 World Championship in three years with the 12 points which the position place would bring. Vettel has been on the podium for the last six races but will take nothing for granted. Interlagos tends to be rather more capricious than other circuits.

Subbed by AJN.

Autodrome Jose Carlos Pace (Interlagos) Circuit Data

  • Length of lap: 4.309km
  • Lap record: 1:11.473 (Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams, 2004)
  • Start line/finish line offset: 0.030km
  • Total number of race laps: 71
  • Total race distance: 305.9km
  • Pitlane speed limits: 60km/h during practice and qualifying, 100km/h during the race

Changes to circuit since 2011

  • New debris fences have been installed on both sides of the track between turns 3 and 4.
  • A kerb has been installed on the apex of turn 15.
  • Tube inserts have been placed in the tyre barrier on the end of the wall at the pit entry.

Brazilian GP Fast Facts

  • The podium (L to R): Emerson Fittipaldi (BRA) McLaren, second; Carlos Pace (BRA) Brabham, first and only GP victory; Jochen Mass (GER) McLaren, third place Ð his first podium finish. Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, 26 January 1975. BEST IMAGEFive Brazilian drivers have won their home grand prix: Emerson Fittipaldi (1973-74), Carlos Pace (1975), Nelson Piquet (1983, 1986), Ayrton Senna (1991, 1993), and Felipe Massa (2006, 2008).
  • Alain Prost is the most successful driver in the history of the race with six victories (1982, 1984-85, 1987-88, 1990). Among the current field Michael Schumacher (1994-95, 2000, 2002), Massa and Mark Webber (2009, 2011) are multiple winners. Kimi Räikkönen (2007) and Sebastian Vettel (2010) have also won here.
  • Sunday’s race will see the second retirement of Michael Schumacher. The seven-time world champion first retired from F1 after the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix of 2006.
  • The 4.3km Interlagos layout has held the F1 Brazilian GP since 1990. Prior to this the race was held in Rio de Janeiro at Jacarepaguá (1978,1981-89) and on the longer 8km Interlagos layout (1973-77, 1979-80). The only drivers to win in both cities are Prost and Carlos Reutemann.
  • The shorter Interlagos circuit features many sections carried over from its predecessor. The back straight (Reta Oposta) formerly ran in the opposite direction. It is parallel to the original back straight, still in evidence behind the spectator viewing areas.
  • 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.
  • 2008 saw perhaps the most thrilling championship climax of all time with the title not decided until half a minute after the winner had crossed the line. In gloomy conditions Felipe Massa won the race for Ferrari leaving McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton the task of finishing fifth. With rain falling he was running only sixth into the last sector of the final lap. Hamilton passed the Toyota of Timo Glock in the dying seconds of the race and beat Massa by a solitary point.
  • That has not been Interlagos’ only moment of drama. From 2005-2010 the Brazilian Grand Prix played a significant part in every drivers’ championship battle. 2005 saw Fernando Alonso finish third to clinch the title with two races remaining. Alonso triumphed again the following year in a season-ending showdown with Michael Schumacher. The 2007 race was again a season finale and saw the outsider Kimi Räikkönen crowned after winning the grand prix, finishing the season one point ahead of both Alonso and Hamilton. In 2009 Jenson Button clinched the title at Interlagos with one race to spare and in 2010 Sebastian Vettel went into the race fourth in the standings but won to pull himself back into championship contention going to the final round in Abu Dhabi, where he duly won his first title.

Brazilian GP Race Stewards

  • Garry Connelly has been involved in motor sport since the late 1960s. A long time rally competitor, Connelly was instrumental in bringing the World Rally Championship to Australia in 1988 and served as Chairman of the Organising Committee, Board member and Clerk of Course of Rally Australia until December 2002. He has been an FIA Steward and FIA Observer since 1989, covering the FIA’s World Rally Championship, World Touring Car Championship and Formula One Championship. He is a director of the Australian Institute of Motor Sport Safety, a member of the FIA World Motor Sport Council and in December 2011 was elected Deputy President of the FIA Institute.
  • Silvia Bellot began marshalling in 2001 at the age of 16. Despite her youth Bellot has been Permanent Chairman of Stewards for the European F3 Open and Spanish Endurance Championships, as well as Permanent Steward of the GT Open International and Andorra Ice Championships, among other national series. A native of Barcelona, Bellot has sat on the stewards’ panel at a wide range of championships, including the World Rally Championship, GP2, GP3, BMW Europe, DTM and World Series by Renault. In 2001, she started her collaboration with Catalunya’s automobile club, the RACC, and in 2008 she joined the Spanish Assembly and the Circuit the Catalunya officials’ committee. A year later, Bellot took part in the FIA trainee stewards’ program for GP2 and F1. In 2011 she sat as an FIA steward at the Turkish and Italian Grands Prix and again this year in Italy.
  • Denmark’s Tom Kristensen is the most successful driver in the history of the Le Mans 24-Hour race. He has won the classic endurance event eight times, racing for Porsche, Audi and Bentley. Kristensen, 44, has a broad racing CV, having competed in single-seaters, touring cars and a range of sportscars. He has also tested in F1. A popular and respected figure, this year he has competed in the inaugural FIA World Endurance Championship, driving for Audi Sport Team Joest. Along with long-time team mates Dindo Capello and Allan McNish he won the first round of the championship at the 12 Hours of Sebring, making him the first man to win that famous race six times.