Autódromo José Carlos Pace, São Paulo, Brazil
The circuit is more widely known as Interlagos, which is the original name of the track and means ‘between the lakes’. It was renamed thirty years ago for a Brazilian driver killed in a plane crash – Pace scored his only F1 win at Interlagos.
Click the link above to see the track layout in the 1970s compared to the layout today. This week you’ll hear the drivers speak of the direction of travel being an issue on their neck muscles. It is rare in Formula 1 to have an anti-clockwise track which I’m sure your average NASCAR or IndyCar driver would find quite funny…
Normally the drivers train for lots of right-handers on a clockwise track, they have to train specifically for this track (and now these days Istanbul as well) which runs the other way, and particularly because of the long, steep uphill left-hander at the end of the circuit, beginning at Junção.
The track itself is notorious for being the bumpiest of the season, something which was largely cured last season after a complete relaying of the asphalt, though many bumps still remained. They may well appear again this year! The facilities in general are not up to scratch per F1 standards, however because it isn’t a European track nobody seems to mind so much. Under an agreement signed in March the GP will remain at Interlagos under the proviso that pit and paddock facilities are improved over the coming years.
There are also frequent crime problems with members of the Toyota team being mugged a few years ago and similar incidents reported from time to time.
The Brazilian GP was often held at the beginning of the year and was the season-opener until 1996 when Melbourne took over, relegating Sau Paulo to 2nd event. In 2004 Brazil was moved to the end of the year, being the season closer every year since except for 2005. In 2009 the new Abu Dhabi circuit is scheduled to be the finale with Interlagos being the preceding event.
Ferrari have walked the last two runnings of this event, however McLaren hold the most wins with 11 to Ferrari’s 9 and Williams’ 6. This is assuming Wikipedia is correct which isn’t guaranteed.
Felipe Massa these days is largely untouchable at his home track so I would expect him to dominate this weekend, however it depends on how his head holds. Lewis Hamilton faces the same problem but more so, since he threw it away last year with a mistake before a gearbox problem ended his race anyway. That sort of thing has got to mess with your head even if only a little bit.
I also expect Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso to play a large part in this race, with Robert Kubica and maybe Nick Heidfeld also getting amongst it. The rest won’t be able to live with the pace.
I’ll be back in a day or two with the points break-down and what Lewis and Felipe have to do to win the World Championship.
I think this race is pretty favourable to most people around the world, though maybe not the Antipodeans. That means there’s no excuses, you have to watch this race live alongside f1.com live timing!
(you do need to register for free and have Java installed, I suggest doing so before the weekend)
Qualifying is at 2pm local, 11am US EST, 4pm UK, 5pm CET.
Racing begins at 3pm local, Midday US EST, 5pm UK, 6pm CET. Check your listings because you want to watch the pre-race show, right?
NOTE FOR UK VIEWERS: THIS IS ITV’S LAST F1 BROADCAST
(Aussies, Kiwis, Canucks and Springboks who take James & Martin’s coverage note that you’ll probably get the BBC feed next season)