We’re nearly at the end of the 20215 Formula One season, and with both drivers’ and constructors’ championships sealed as of the United States Grand Prix, drivers will now race the penultimate race of the season – the Brazilian Grand Prix, held at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace – more commonly known through the years as Interlagos.
Interlagos was named for the fact that it was between two lakes, both artificially created to supply the town power and hydration. It was renamed in 1985 for Brazilian racer Jose Carlos Pace, one of the country’s biggest F1 icons, and a contemporary of world champion Emerson Fittipaldi, who was arguably far better known than Pace in the world of Formula One.
The track has seen safety concerns over the years brought up by several drivers, former World Champion Jody Scheckter among them. Due to safety concerns and the non-viability of the cars of the time on that surface, it did not see a Formula One race for 12 years.
That changed, however, with the ascendence of a man who would become the country’s most well-known motorsports icons and one of the most legendary faces in the history of Formula One – Ayrton Senna.
Senna brought the spotlight back on to Brazil, and this spurred authorities to repair the track in Sao Paulo. The first curve at the track, an S-shaped turn, is now named the Senna curve after the legend, as is the karting circuit on the track.
Understanding the track
There are only 4 tracks on the current Formula One calendar that run in an anticlockwise direction – Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi, Singapore’s Marina Bay Circuit, the Circuit of the Americas, which hosts the United States Grand Prix, and Brazil.
Interlagos poses several challenges to teams in terms of car and driver endurance. Built on uneven terrain, the track requires more power from cars. It was known in the past for being extremely bumpy – a major safety concern for several drivers – and this still takes its toll on cars.
Drivers train regularly to combat the g-forces exerted on their necks during turns – it is an essential part of their regime. However, the centrifugal forces exerted on their necks in Brazil and at other anticlockwise circuits will push their necks to the right rather than the left.
The track is characterized by a series of turns – 15 of them, in fact. At 4.3.km or 2.67 miles, it’s also one of the shortest circuits on the current F1 grid; the only one presently shorter is the Circuit de Monaco at 3.37km.
Right into the circuit, the Senna Curve tests drivers – sharp, opposite-angled turns, down uneven terrain mean drivers have to balance precision and power right from the opening seconds of the race.
5 turns into the circuit, drivers see small, continuous changes in elevation, where drivers must maintain slower speeds to progress.
The stretch from turn 12, the Juncao, until the start/finish, although characterized by 3 separate left turns, is considered a long, full-power straight – one of the longest such in Formula One, in fact.
Records and recent history
Colombia’s Juan Pablo Montoya holds the lap record at the circuit – 1:11.473, with the fastest lap to local racer and Ferrari icon Rubens Barichello with 1’09.822 – both in the same year, 2004.
The track underwent changes in 2007 and 2012 to fortify the pitlane and make it safer, and with this also came an increase in accessibility to the circuit.
Although a redevelopment was planned for 2012, according to FIA race director Charlie Whiting, these changes were not ultimately effected.
Nico Rosberg is the most recent winner at the circuit, winning the 2014 Brazilian Grand Prix from pole position, with his teammate Lewis Hamilton qualifying and finishing the race in second. The podium was rounded up by home favourite Felipe Massa for Williams, with Massa looking to repeat the feat this race.
It will be the home race for Massa and 2015 debutant Felipe Nasr of Sauber. Reigning champion Hamilton, fresh off his second championship title in a row and third overall, is yet to win at Interlagos despite having raced 8 Grands Prix here – a fate similar to that of his idol, Ayrton Senna, who only won a race at the circuit in his 8th year in Formula One – although he finished in 2nd in his second year in the sport.
Qualifying will be held on the 14th of November 2015 at 9:30p.m. IST, while the race will be at the same time the following day, the 15th.