Brazilian Grand Prix: Facts, Stats & Tech Preview

Facts, statistics and information ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend, Round 20 of the 2018 Formula 1 World Championship, at Autódromo José Carlos Pace in Interlagos, Sao Paulo.

The Essentials

Focus points: Front braking. Interlagos is bumpy and many of the corners are cambered, which makes it easy to lock an inside front wheel under braking. This costs time and puts a car out of position. It’s particularly relevant into Turn One, the most obvious overtaking point on the lap because the track drops away at the apex.

Unique difficulty: Fuel pick-up. Interlagos has many idiosyncrasies, such as altitude and bumps, but the long left-hand drag from Turn 12 to the exit of Turn 15 at the top of the hill presents cars with potential fuel pick-up problems. They are pulling lateral G for 12s through this sequence of corners, which can cause problems if teams aren’t prepared.

Biggest challenge: The physicality of the track. It’s one of five anti-clockwise circuits on this year’s calendar, but what stands Interlagos apart is the long duration of the corners and the number of bumps. Combine these factors with the record-breaking lap times we’re expecting this year and it’s going to be one of the most demanding races of the season for the drivers.

Engineer’s Lowdown

Braking: Light. This isn’t a demanding circuit for brakes, similar to Silverstone. There are only six braking events around the lap, with the hardest braking zone being on the approach to Turn One. The cars are on the brakes for 1.4s at this point on the lap, with a peak deceleration of 5.5g.

Power: The cars use 1.5kg of fuel per lap, which is low. It’s indicative of the low percentage of full throttle (62 per cent).

Aero: Medium-to-high downforce. In terms of altitude, Interlagos is situated significantly lower than Mexico City, scene of last week’s Mexican Grand Prix. But it’s still 800m above sea level and the altitude affects aero performance. The cars need lots of aero and mechanical grip through the twisty mid-section of the lap, but the two long straights make downforce levels a compromise.

Reuters Facts & Stats

Statistics for Sunday’s Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at Sao Paulo’s Interlagos circuit:

  • Lap distance: 4.309km. Total distance: 305.909km (71 laps)
  • 2017 pole: Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Mercedes One minute 08.322 seconds.
  • 2017 winner: Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari
  • Race lap record: Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Red Bull 2017, 1:11.044.
  • Start time: 1710GMT (1510 local)

World Championship

  • Lewis Hamilton has already clinched his fifth world championship, doing so in Mexico with two races to spare.
  • The Briton is only the third driver to win five titles, after the late Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher.
  • Mercedes can now clinch their fifth successive constructors’ championship — something previously achieved only by Ferrari (1999-2004).
  • The team are 55 points ahead of Ferrari, who must outscore the reigning champions by 13 points at Interlagos to keep the title battle open until Abu Dhabi.

Brazilian Grand Prix

  • Three of the current drivers have won in Brazil: Vettel (2010, 2013, 2017), Raikkonen (2007), Hamilton (2016).
  • Brazil has been on the calendar since 1973, starting at Interlagos before moving to Rio de Janeiro and then returning to Sao Paulo. The circuit is named after the late Jose Carlos Pace.
  • Hamilton clinched his first title in Brazil in 2008.
  • Pole position has translated into victory 13 times in 35 races in Brazil.
  • McLaren have a record 12 wins in Brazil, eight at Interlagos. Jenson Button’s 2012 win there remains the team’s most recent victory.
  • There is no Brazilian driver on the starting grid at present.

Race Victories

  • Hamilton has nine wins this season to Vettel’s five. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen have two each and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen one.
  • Hamilton has 71 victories from 227 races and is second in the all-time list behind seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher (91). Vettel, third on the all-time list, has 52.
  • Ferrari have won 235 races since 1950, McLaren 182, Williams 114, Mercedes 85 and Red Bull 59. Former champions McLaren and Williams have not won since 2012.

Pole Position

  • Hamilton has a record 81 career poles, Vettel 55.
  • Verstappen, who turned 21 at the end of September, has two chances left to become the youngest ever pole sitter. The current youngest is Vettel, who did it at 21 years and 72 days.

Podiums

  • Hamilton has 132 career podiums and is second on the all-time list behind Schumacher (155). Vettel has 110, Raikkonen 102.
  • Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas has had seven second-place finishes this season.

Championship Points

  • Every driver on the starting grid has scored this season.

Milestone

  • Mercedes are one pole position away from their 100th in Formula One.

Brazilian Grand Prix Technical Preview by Iman Hansra

The Autódromo José Carlos Pace produces many of the challenges teams faced two weeks ago in Mexico, although they are not as severe. With the track situated 800m above sea level, air density is again significantly lower than teams are accustomed to, with slightly less than a 10% reduction, placing an emphasis on cooling. The track layout emphasises medium speed corner performance more than slow speed turns, so a shift in the competitive order is likely.

Downforce vs Drag

  • The lower air density rewards higher downforce set-ups, as was true in Mexico, despite the presence of long straights heading towards Turns 1 and 4.
  • Teams with lower power output and poor Aerodynamic efficiency will be unlikely be able to run maximum downforce wings, as the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes may be able to do, in order to remain competitive on the straights.

Car Strengths Needed

  • Mechanical grip is important for the middle sector, which features multiple slow speed turns.
  • Aerodynamic efficiency is rewarded by allowing greater wing angles to be run for higher corner speeds, while maintaining good acceleration and top speed.
  • As at most tracks, a strong power unit can be a significant advantage, with the benefit in Brazil being seen most from Turns 12 to 1, which is a long flat-out section.

Key Corners

  • Turn 1 – a key corner for overtaking, while hitting the apex is key to open up Turns 2/3 for the best run down the ensuing straight to T4.
  • Turns 6/7 – the only high speed section on the track which is not flat-out in qualifying, this will differentiate the cars on the grid by Aerodynamic performance. There is the added complication of a blind entry.
  • Turn 12 – this is the final corner in the dry, with following turns being easily flat-out, so good traction here is critical to maximise top speed down to the finish line in qualifying.

Tyres

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  • Pirelli is bringing the same compound names as last year to Brazil, but each is a step softer than the equivalent from 2017. However, as seen throughout this year, the durability is similar to last year due to the improved tyre management techniques employed by teams.
  • In 2017, a one-stop race was the favoured strategy, with teams capable of running up to half the race on the SuperSoft tyre, and with this in mind, a similar strategy should be expected for 2018 (SS-S).
  • Temperatures are expected to climb for the weekend, potentially bringing the Medium tyre into play as a race compound. It is unlikely, but not impossible, that teams will set their fastest Q2 time on the Soft.

Overtaking/DRS

  • The lack of high speed corners makes Brazil one of the easier circuits on which to follow, raising the possibility of overtaking. However, this will only take place if teams can cool their cars sufficiently to allow running in a competitor’s hot, turbulent wake for a sustained period of time.
  • Also beneficial to good racing is the presence of two DRS assisted straights down to T1 and T4, with the former often providing an opportunity to set up a pass on the latter.

Weather

  • Showers are expected throughout the weekend, although the likelihood will increase as the weekend progresses. Teams should be allowed significant dry data gathering on Friday to assess the best set-up and strategy options. Many teams will also run experiments with 2019 in mind, which they would like to conduct in optimal conditions.
  • Also, temperatures are likely to increase through the weekend, making tyre management more of a factor for the race.

Form Guide

  • Ferrari and Mercedes should resume their position at the head of the pecking order after Red Bull’s strong showing in Mexico owed much to a greater dependence on outright downforce, as opposed to Aerodynamic efficiency and power unit performance.
  • Renault are expecting a more challenging weekend than the previous two, where they have had the fourth quickest car, but nevertheless, the Enstone team looks secure in fourth place in the championship.
  • Force India will be looking for a clean race in order to maximise their chances of catching McLaren in the standings. The Silverstone team has lost points in the last two races with a fuel flow irregularity, followed by reliability/driver errors harming its chances in Mexico.