Formula One this weekend moves from North to South America for Round 19 of the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship, the Brazilian Grand Prix. And the penultimate event of this campaign takes place at one of the sport’s most venerable circuits, the Autodromo José Carlos Pace in Interlagos, Sao Paulo.
The Interlagos circuit made its calendar debut in 1973 and has been a fixture on the schedule since 1990, making it the eighth most visited venue in the history of the sport. And despite the current 4.309km layout being the second shortest by length after Monaco, Interlagos remains a testing venue for drivers and teams. Like the last round, in Mexico City, Sao Paulo’s circuit is at altitude, though at only 800m compared with Mexico’s 2,200m the effects are less pronounced. Nonetheless, there is a reduction in downforce and turbos will work harder in the thinner air. The steep rise and fall —for example, the 40m incline from Turn 12, Juncao, to the braking point at Turn 1 — means it’s tougher on combustion engines than many other circuits.
Arriving at the perfect set—up can be tricky as teams needs to balance a desire for high levels of downforce in the tight and twisting infield section against the need to minimise drag on the straight between Turns 3, the Curva de Sol, and Turn 4, Descida do Lago, and especially on the long sweep from Turn 12 to Turn 1.
With Lewis Hamilton having sealed the Drivers’ World Championship title in Mexico, and with Mercedes winning the Constructors’ crown in the USA, Brazil’s race, at the front of the pack, largely becomes a battle for weekend honours alone. Victory for Hamilton, with nine wins so far this year, would edge him closer to equalling his career record for victories in a single season of 11, scored in 2014. For Sebastian Vettel it would represent a third career Brazilian GP win, while for in—form Max Verstappen it would be a third victory in five races.
However, the Brazilian GP can be unpredictable, largely thanks to the often inclement weather. And with forecasts predicting mixed conditions, the weekend could yet spring many surprises.
AUTODROMO JOSE CARLOS PACE
Length of lap: 4.309km
Lap record: 1:11.473 (Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams, 2004)
Start line/ﬁnish line offset: 0.030km
Total number of race laps: 71
Total race distance: 305.909km
Pitlane speed limits:
80km/h in practice, qualifying, and the race