Preview: Brazilian GP

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Brazil, Autódromo José Carlos Pace, Interlagosbr

To round off the 2013 Formula One season, the final Grand Prix is held in Brazil at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace, more commonly known by its former name, Interlagos.

It is a challenging track that is known for its long top-speed section up the hill and some high speed turns with lack of run-off area. Despite only being resurfaced a few years ago, the track remains quite bumpy, therefore good ride quality is required to achieve the performance in the grip limited sections. The bumpiness and the anti-clockwise nature of the circuit combined together make it a difficult race for the drivers.

The circuit has two high-speed sectors, a fast corner combination at the end of the long straight and the twisty infield section that requires a lot of grip, good ride quality and stability. The second sector is very technical and the other sectors are driven by speed. The compromise between downforce and drag is therefore key to getting a good laptime. After an improved performance in Austin, the team are aiming to continue this momentum to finish the season with another points finish.

Yet again, the weather may play a major role in Brazil and could maybe make sure we end up with a surprising result.

Circuit highlights

Turn 1 A tricky downhill turn at the end of a long straight, the nature of the first corner makes it easy for drivers to out-brake themselves. This year also sees the addition of a second DRS zone – running for 500m along the start/finish straight – which should boost passing opportunities into what is already a good spot for overtaking.

Turns 2 – 3 It’s important to get a good exit from Turn 1; carrying the momentum on through Turn 2 into the high speed Turn 3 and subsequently to the DRS straight.

Turns 4 – 7 The first DRS zone along the back straight presents a good overtaking opportunity heading into Turn 4, which along with Turns 5, 6 & 7 is quite high speed before heading in to the lower speed Turn 8.

Turns 8 – 10 Flat kerbs through the low speed Turns 8 & 10 allow drivers a degree of freedom in their apex point.

Turn 12 Turn 12 is crucial for a quick lap, with exit speed defining how fast you can charge up the hill and along the start / finish straight.

Turns 13 – 15 The uphill section generates high loads for the engine due to an altitude-induced oxygen deficit.

Car setup

Rear Wing Downforce level is a little bit lighter than that seen in Texas or Abu Dhabi, with the intention of maximising top speed down the long straight.

Front Wing As there are some pretty quick corners, extra front wing is a consideration here to balance the car. Turns where this is relevant include 4, 5, 6, 10 & 11; all of which are quite challenging corners.

Suspension As we see so often in the current calendar, this is a compromise. The car needs to be strong in the high speed turns, but also have quick change of direction for the low speed Turns 8 & 9. Good traction is also required on exiting Turns 8, 9, 10 and particularly Turn 12 to maximise speed heading up the long hill on to the start / finish straight.

Brakes There are no particular challenges for the brakes here, other than ensuring that temperatures remain relatively high at the end of the long straight which forms the downhill entry into Turn 1.

Engine Interlagos is all about altitude. The track is 800m above sea level, meaning the RS27-2013 could be producing around 8% less power than at a sea-level race such as Korea. Over the course of the lap the track also undulates significantly, putting the oil and fuel systems under considerable pressure; particularly through the long left-hand corner onto the pit straight.

Tyres As per last time out in Austin, the allocation here is once more the hardest in Pirelli’s arsenal with the medium and hard compounds elected. This is quite conservative and could make for a one stop race depending on degradation levels. With a relative absence of high lateral loadings – discounting the final sector – Interlagos is not expected to be too demanding on the tyre structure.

Quick facts

Number of corners: 15 (10 left, 5 right
Maximum speed (no DRS): 315 km/h
Minimum speed: 80 km/h
FIA corners below 100 km/h: 2
FIA corners above 250 km/h: 2
Average lap speed (qualifying): 205 km/h
Distance from pole to apex of T1: 190m
Braking events: 6 (3 hard)
Pit-lane length under speed-limit control: 361m
Pit-lane time at 80 km/h: 16.3s

Full throttle per lap (% lap distance): 70%
Full throttle per lap (% lap time): 59%
Longest period at full throttle: 16s
Average gear changes per race lap: 42 (2982/race)
Braking energy: average