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Brazilian Grand Prix 2014: Preview

Gaurab Sinha
ANALYST
Modified 09 Nov 2014, 09:20 IST
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Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull Racing drives during the first practice session of the Brazilian Grand Prix

The Formula 1 circus arrives at Interlagos this weekend for the 2014 Brazilian Grand Prix. This is the forty-third running of the Brazilian Grand Prix and it is also the eighteenth, and the penultimate, race of the 2014 Formula 1 season. With Lewis Hamilton’s superb win at last weekend’s United States Grand Prix, the momentum is with the championship leader coming into Brazil. With Marussia and Caterham still unable to race, the grid will once again lineup with 18 cars in front of the five red lights.

About the Circuit and it's challenges

The eighteenth round of the 2014 Formula 1 season promises to be a huge turning point in the championship battle between Mercedes teammates, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. The Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace circuit is just 4.309 Kilometers long, but is it still the one of the most challenging circuits on the calendar.

The circuit is an anti-clockwise track with fifteen highly technical, medium and slow speed corners. The circuit has two notable long straights, particularly the start-finish straight, as it is one of the longest full throttle stretches on the Formula 1 calendar. The circuit asphalt is renowned for its bumpiness, but with the track resurfaced completely this year, the extent of it should meliorate somewhat.

Because of this recent track resurfacing, Pirelli are bringing their soft and medium P-Zeros to Brazil. Rain is predicted over the the weekend, hence extensive usage of the intermediates and full wets, from Pirelli’s Chinturato range, is imminent. The brake wear is considered light here, this because of the fact that there are only six breaking points in the circuit. There will be two DRS zones available to the drivers, first one just after turn three and second being right after the last turn.

The Championship Battle

With only two races to go, a 24 points lead in the title race, which Hamilton brings to Brazil, would have been a significant and a comfortable margin any other year. However, with the introduction of double points at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final race of the season, there is still everything to play for.

Both, Rosberg and Hamilton, will seek a win and take home 25 points this weekend to create an impetus for Abu Dhabi. In Rosberg’s case, it is easier said than done, with seven winless races, the pressure to deliver on him is more imminent than ever. Hamilton on the other hand, has momentum and form on his side, with him winning the last five races on the trot.

With Rosberg winning only four races this season, against Hamilton’s ten, a win at Interlagos for Rosberg will create a perfect thrilling scenario for Abu Dhabi. Whatever happens on Sunday, the title cannot be won by Hamilton at Brazil, hence leaving room for some twist in the tale.

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Other significant fights in the table

Another interesting battle setting up for showdown at season’s grand finale is between last year’s world champion Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. Both drivers are tied on 149 points, and both will look to fly away from Brazil with a healthy lead over the other. Another tight battle is between Force India’s  Sergio Perez and the 2007 World Champion, Kimi Raikkonen. 

Both have 47 points each and are 11th and 12th in the championship table respectively. Romain Grosjean of Lotus and Toro Rosso rookie Daniil Kvyat are also locked in a fierce battle, the pair have scored 8 points each individual. This is also a very crucial race for drivers who have not yet secured a drive for the 2015 season.

This list includes the outgoing Sauber duo of Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez, McLaren pairing of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen and Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne. These drivers will look to impress their current employers, and other team bosses, in a hope of retaining a Formula 1 drive.

Constructors’ Championship Battles

Although Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team has already sealed the 2014 World Constructors’ Championship at the Russia Grand Prix; other positions still need to be sorted out. The Infinity Red Bull Racing Team will permanently look to secure the second place in the championship at Interlagos this weekend, ahead of the Williams F1 Team.

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129 points are still available for the teams and Ferrari, McLaren and Force India separated by just 73 points. The battle for 4th place in the constructors’ table might take a huge turn, if the traditional unpredictable Brazilian Grand Prix lives up to its expectations.

With Marussia announcing to cease their F1 operation this week, and Caterham’s future still unknown, Sauber will once again look to capture 9th place in the championship table.

Qualifying format and Race Strategies

Unavailability of two teams would once again mean using the United States Grand Prix “type” qualifying format for Q1, Q2 and Q3. In it, the slowest four cars in Q1 will drop out and also the bottom four cars in Q2 will have to make way. This would mean ten cars will once again fight for pole in Q3.

With the best and  optimum strategy for  race is said to be a two-stopper, drivers might opt for the prime tyre, the mediums, as the preferred race tyre. With a revised pit lane entry for this year, the expected total pit stop time might be around 20 seconds or so for a stop. However, chance of a safety car coming out is more evident here than on any other track.

With the safety car featuring on seven occasions out of the last eleven races, all presumption and pre planning about race strategy might change because of it. Also if the rain hits on Sunday, which it most certainly might, all the strategies will have to be recalculated accordingly.

Last 5 Winners of the Brazilian Grand Prix

Year

Driver

Team

2013

Sebastian Vettel

Red Bull Racing-Renault

2012

Jenson Button

McLaren-Mercedes

2011

Mark Webber

Red Bull Racing-Renault

2010

Sebastian Vettel

Red Bull Racing-Renault

2009

Mark Webber

Red Bull Racing-Renault

Circuit Lap Record: Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams BMW: 1:11.473 (Year 2004)

Published 08 Nov 2014, 10:26 IST
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