The Big Preview: Brazilian Grand Prix at Autodromo Carlos Pace, Interlagos

Brazil plays host to the 19th and final round of the 2013 FIA Formula 1 World Championship as teams make their way to São Paulo and the suburb of Interlagos, home of the Autódromo José Carlos Pace.

The lap of Interlagos is one of the year’s shortest but it crams a lot into its 15 turns and 4.3 kilometres. It presents a classic demand for compromise between the high-downforce requirements of the looping medium-low speed middle section and the flat-out, low-drag search for ultimate top speed that characterises the long section uphill from the Junção corner to the start-finish line, which then drops down to the overtaking-friendly, heavy-breaking Senna S.

Forever local hero Ayrton Senna during his last Brazilian Grand Prix weekend in 1994

Forever local hero Ayrton Senna during his last Brazilian Grand Prix weekend in 1994

As in 2012, Pirelli will bring its Hard and Medium compounds to Interlagos. The rain-affected 2012 race provides few clues to strategy but key to Jenson Button’s victory last year was his ability to run on slicks in marginal conditions, winning on a two-stop strategy while his pursuers made an extra stop for Rain tyres. The forecasts suggest that rain may play a part again.

Even if rain does fall, the 2013 edition is unlikely to deliver quite the level of drama seen in 2012’s title-decider. However, although the main issues of the season have been resolved, F1 goes to Interlagos with questions still to be answered. There are tight battles up and down the field in the Constructors’ Championship, not least of which is the competition for second place.

In the USA, Mercedes increased their lead over Ferrari to 15 points, while Lotus remain a long-shot thanks to Romain Grosjean’s sterling efforts in Austin. Meanwhile, at the other end of the table, Marussia and Caterham are both fighting to avoid finishing the season in last place.

Marussia currently holds tenth, courtesy of Jules Bianchi’s 13th-place finish in Malaysia. In the normal course of events it would be difficult to imagine that being under threat, but Interlagos is perfectly capable of springing a surprise.

Carlos Pace (middle) won the 1975 Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos

Carlos Pace (middle) won the 1975 Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos

Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace (Interlagos) Circuit Data

  • Length of lap: 4.309 km Lap record: 1:11.473 (Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams, 2004)
  • Start/finish line offset: 0.030 km
  • Total number of race laps: 71
  • Total race distance: 305.909 km
  • Pitlane speed limits: 80 km/h throughout the weekend

Changes to circuit since 2012

  • New debris fences have been installed on both sides of the track between Turns Three and Four
  • Race control has been renovated with new high definition camera feeds and other enhancements.

DRS Zones

  • There are two DRS zones at Interlagos. Zone One has a detection point at the apex of Turn Two with activation 20m after Turn Three. Zone Two has its detection point 30 m after Turn 13 and activation 60 m before Turn 15.
Sebastian Vettel secured his third world title at Interlagos with 6th place last year

Sebastian Vettel secured his third World title at Interlagos with 6th place last year

Brazilian Grand Prix Fast Facts

  • Sebastian Vettel’s sixth place in last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix made him a triple World Champion. It was the sixth time that the Drivers’ Championship has been decided at Interlagos since the race was moved to the back end of the calendar, in 2004. Fernando Alonso (’05, ’06) Kimi Räikkönen (’07), Lewis Hamilton (’08) and Jenson Button (’09) also sealed their titles at this circuit. Only Räikkönen marked the occasion with a victory.
  • McLaren have a record 12 victories in Brazil. Emerson Fittipaldi triumphed at home in 1974, as did Ayrton Senna in ’91 and ’93. Alain Prost won in ’84, ’85, ’87 and ’88, Mika Hakkinen in ’98 and ’99, David Coulthard in 2001, Juan Pablo Montoya in ’05 and Button last year.
  • Button is scheduled to make his 247th grand prix start on Sunday – a record for a British driver, overtaking David Coulthard who ended his driving career in F1 at this circuit in 2008.
  • Prost’s four McLaren victories are bracketed by wins for Renault (’82) and Ferrari (’90) making him the most successful driver in the history of the race. He and Carlos Reutemann are the only drivers to have won the race both in Rio and São Paulo.
  • The current 4.3km layout of Interlagos has hosted the Brazilian Grand Prix since 1990. Prior to this the race was held in Rio at the Jacarepaguá circuit (’78,’81-’89) and on the original 8 km Interlagos layout (’73-’77, ’79-’80).
  • Vettel’s victory in Austin was his eighth consecutive win of 2013, beating a record set by Michael Schumacher in 2004. This weekend Vettel can equal the nine consecutive victories recorded by Alberto Ascari. Ascari’s record was set over the season’s 1952-1953 and is only applicable if the Indianapolis 500 (in which Ascari and other ‘regular’ F1 drivers did not participate) is discounted.
  • Interlagos historically has provided excellent overtaking opportunities. In the modern times Turns One & Two (Senna S) and Turns Four & Five (Descida do Lago) have provided the bulk of the overtaking action. Records show that from 30 races at this circuit, pole position has only led to victory on 10 occasions. The only driver to win from pole this century is Felipe Massa, who managed the feat in both ’06 and ’08.
  • This is Mark Webber’s final grand prix. To date, the Australian has 214 grand prix starts, nine victories, 32 other podium finishes, 13 pole positions and 18 fastest laps. He has twice finished third in the Drivers’ Championship (’10, ’11). His first F1 race was the 2002 Australian Grand Prix, in which he finished fifth, driving for Minardi.
  • This weekend F1 also says goodbye to Cosworth for the immediate future. The engine privateer has powered 176 F1 victories, second in the all-time list behind Ferrari. It’s most recent victory was at this circuit in 2003: Jordan’s Giancarlo Fisichella awarded the win after a red flag. Cosworth also recorded its most recent pole position here, Nico Hülkenberg taking P1 for Williams in 2010.
This year's Brazilian GP will be Felipe Massa's last as a Ferrari driver

This year’s Brazilian GP will be Felipe Massa’s last as a Ferrari driver

Brazilian Grand Prix Statistics by Reuters

  • Red Bull‘s Sebastian Vettel has won 12 races in 2013 and will equal Michael Schumacher’s 2004 record of 13 in a single season if he wins at Interlagos.
  • The quadruple World Champion will also be the first man to win nine races in a row in a single season. The only other man to win nine times consecutively was Italian Alberto Ascari over two seasons in 1952-53.
  • Vettel won his fourth successive title, becoming the youngest quadruple Champion at 26 years old, and the first to win his first four crowns in a row, sealed in India last month. The German is only the fourth quadruple Champion.
  • Red Bull also won the Constructors’ crown for the fourth year in a row, becoming only the third team to perform that feat after Ferrari and McLaren.
  • Vettel’s U.S. GP win made him the first driver to win eight races in a row in a single season.
  • Four teams have won the 18 races so far (Lotus, Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes).
  • Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Mercedes’s Nico Rosberg have both won twice and Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton once.
  • Vettel has 38 career wins, Alonso 32, Hamilton 22, Raikkonen 20 and McLaren’s Jenson Button 15.
  • Ferrari have won 221 races, McLaren 182, Williams 114 and Red Bull 45.
  • Vettel has taken eight poles this season, team mate Mark Webber two and Mercedes the rest.
  • Caterham and Marussia have yet to score a point after three seasons in F1.
  • Valtteri Bottas (Williams) took his first F1 points in Austin and joined Sauber’s Mexican Esteban Gutierrez as the only rookies to have scored this season.
  • Felipe Massa is the last Brazilian to have won his home grand prix, doing so in 2008 and 2006. Massa has not won any race since his last triumph at Interlagos.
  • Massa is the sole Brazilian driver on the grid at present.
  • Four of the last five titles have been decided at Interlagos.
  • Only four of the drivers who will be on the grid on Sunday have won in Brazil: Massa, Webber, Vettel and Button.
  • The last driver to win from pole position at Interlagos was Massa in 2008.
  • Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg started on pole for Williams in 2010, his only pole to date.
  • Webber will be starting his last F1 race before departing for a new career in sportscars.
  • Massa will be saying farewell to Ferrari, the team he has raced for since 2006, before moving to Williams.
  • F1 will be waving goodbye to the 2.4 litre V8 engine, with a new and smaller 1.6 litre V6 turbo unit with energy recovery systems coming in for 2014.
  • Ferrari stretched their record for most consecutive points finishes to 66 in Austin. The run dates back to the 2010 German Grand Prix.
  • Marussia’s Max Chilton chalked up his 18th successive finish, a record for a rookie.
Start of the 2012 Brazilian GP

Start of the 2012 Brazilian GP

Brazilian Grand Prix Race Stewards Biographies

  • Paul Gutjahr started racing in the late 1960s with Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Lotus and Porsche, then March in Formula 3. In the early ‘70s he became President of the Automobile Club Berne and organised numerous events. He acted as President of the organising committee of the Swiss GP at Dijon between 1980-82. Between 1980-2005 he acted as President of the Commission Sportive Nationale de l’Automobile Club de Suisse and in 2005 he became President and board member of the Auto Sport Suisse motor sports club. Gutjahr is President of the Alliance of European Hill Climb Organisers and has been steward at various high-level international competitions. He was the Formula 3000 Sporting Commissioner and has been a Formula 1 steward since 1995.
  • Italian-born Vincenzo Spano grew up in Venezuela, where he went on to study at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, becoming an attorney-at-law. Spano has wide-ranging experience in motor sport, from national to international level. He has worked for the Touring y Automóvil Club de Venezuela since 1991, and served as President of the Sporting Commission since 2001. He was president for two terms and now sits as a member of the Board of the Nacam-FIA zone. Since 1995 Spano has been a licenced steward and obtained his FIA steward superlicence in 2003. Spano has been involved with the FIA and FIA Institute in various roles since 2001: a member of the World Motor Sport Council, the FIA Committee, and the executive committee of the FIA Institute.
  • Mark Blundell raced for McLaren, Tyrrell, Ligier and Brabham in an F1 career that encompassed 61 grands prix between 1991 and 1995 and included three podium finishes. He is a three-time winner in IndyCars and won the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race in 1992, driving for Peugeot. While still occassionally seen behind the wheel of a racing car in endurance events, the 21st Century has seen Blundell forge a second career as a TV commentator and analyst. He first appeared as a driver steward in F1 at the Spanish Grand Prix of 2011.


  • jeff

    Love to see Felipe and Mark on the podium.