The 2011 Formula One season comes to an end today. The final race of the 2011 Formula One season is all set to take place at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, Interlagos, Brazil. With defending Champion Sebastian Vettel having won the driver’s championship at the 15th race in Japan and his team Red Bull Race winning the Constructor’s title in the very next race at Korea, the others have been left to salvage some pride by garnering valuable world championship points. An intriguing mid-field battle in the constructor’s championship is to witness its climax at Brazil. The second spot in the driver’s championship will also be decided after Sunday’s race. The Brazilian Grand Prix is known for producing some amazing races in the past. Only drivers with apt racing skills and driving finesse have been able to succeed is this undulating track with tricky corners. Apart from the driver’s and their cars there are various factors such as the circuit, weather, DRS zones, stewards and tyres which play a crucial role in the outcome of the race. In order to keep you up to speed on these things, here’s everything you need to know about the 2011 Brazilian Grand Prix.
In a dry race, drivers are prone to persist with the soft tyre. This may continue even in Brazil since there is a 2-second per lap difference in times between the prime(medium) and the option(soft) tyres. The soft tyre is a newly designed one and is being experimented by Pirelli to devise its plans for the next season’s tyres.
3. Pit Strategy:
Since it is a 71 lap race, drivers are most likely to persist with the three stop strategy. The first round of pit stops would be around the 15 lap mark. The next two stops depend on the choice of the tyres and the weather. Hence, if it rains, all plans could go kaput.
4. Car set-up:
All teams are aware of the fact that there is a threat of rain on race-day. Hence, they are in a dilemma whether to go for dry or wet setup. If they tweak the car for wet weather and it doesn’t rain during the race, then it would be a difficult job for the driver to cope with it. It is expected that the front-runners would decide on their car setup a few hours before the race. If the race starts on a wet track, the drivers have no choice but to go in with a wet set-up.
It was expected that the start-finish straight would also be a DRS zone. However, the FIA was against this proposal and decided to stick with a single DRS zone.
6. Practice 1: Webber impresses, Alonso blows engine
The first practice session ended with Mark Webber (Red Bull) topping the table with the McLaren duo of Button and Hamilton following him in second and third position. Ferrari‘s Fernando Alonso suffered an engine failure during this session. Renault gave its driver Romain Grosjean a chance to drive its car instead of Vitaly Petrov. Similarly Jean-Eric Vergne(Toro Rosso), Luiz Razia(Lotus) and Jan Charouz(HRT) got a chance to test the cars for their team.
7. Practice 2: Hamilton to the fore
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton topped the charts in the second qualifying session held in dry conditions. He was followed by the Red Bull duo of Vettel and Webber in that order. Force India’s Paul di Resta drove the maximum no. of laps (48) in this session.
8. Practice 3: Vettel restores normalcy
While Webber and Hamilton dominated the Friday practice session, Vettel restored normalcy on Saturday by posting the fastest time. Jenson Button was second in his McLaren while Webber was the third fastest.
9. Qualifying: Historic 15th pole for Vettel
Sebastian Vettel’s domination continued on Saturday afternoon too as he took pole position yet again this season, setting a time of 1:11:918s. This time was just half a second short of Juan Pablo Montoya’s fastest lap on this circuit (1:11:473). However, this pole(his 15th this season) was historic as Vettel set the record for the most number of poles in a season, breaking the record of 14 set by Nigel Mansell in 1992. His teammate Mark Webber took P2. The McLaren duo of Button and Hamilton will occupy the second row of the grid on Sunday while Ferrari’s Alonso and Mercedes‘ Rosberg will start from the third row. It was a disappointing qualifying session for Brazilians as Felipe Massa, Bruno Senna and Rubens Barrichello will start from P7. P9 and P12 respectively. Force India’s Sutil will start from 8th on the grid while Paul di Resta qualified in 11th position.
Here are the complete results of the practice and qualifying sessions. Click on each Tab to view them.
10. 100th race for homeboy Massa, the last for Rubens Barrichello?
Sunday’s race will be the 100th race in the 7 year long career of Felipe Massa. The fact that it will be his home race will add pressure on Massa who has been terribly under-performing this season. Let’s hope that Massa would please the masses on Sunday through an excellent drive.
While Massa May be celebrating his 100th race, Another Brazilian – Rubens Barrichello, who has been in more than 350 Grands Prix, is under immense pressure to perform well on his home race. The irony is that his home race might turn out to the last race of his storied career during which he was popular for being the second Ferrari driver alongside Michael Schumacher. Barrichello was has been having a quiet season so far, has just 2 world championship points to his credit. His contract with Williams expires after this race. Many believe that Rubens himself might announce his retirement after the race as he is perplexed about his future in 2012.
The stage is set and for the last time in 2011, all 24 cars will vie for the points on Sunday. But for Sebastian Vettel, it is business as usual. Vettel, who did not finish the last race in Abu Dhabi due to a first lap puncture, would certainly be eager to grab another victory in Brazil and end the year on a high.