Brazilian Grand Prix — Preview

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Formula One visits Sao Paulo for the 20th Round of the 2018 World Championship season. The fight continues between Ferrari and Mercedes for the Constructors' title, but Red Bull seem to have upped their pace recently which could bring a thrilling end to the season.

The country of Brazil has held 46 Grands Prix so far with the first one being a non-championship race. The event has been held continuously since it made it’s debut in 1972. Racing in Brazil has its roots between the two World Wars. The first event was held on the 6.9-mile Gavea street circuit in Rio de Janeiro in 1934. Two years later, the construction work of the country’s first permanent circuit kicked off in Sao Paulo. The new track at Interlagos quickly gained reputation for its long corners, demanding nature and elevation changes. When local hero Emerson Fittipaldi began to enjoy racing success in the 1970s, demand for a Brazilian Grand Prix grew. In 1971 and 1972 Interlagos hosted non-championship events, before staging its first Formula One World Championship round in 1973. The track became a lucky charm for a host of local drivers in the 1970s, including José Carlos Pace, whose first and only Grand Prix victory came here at his home race. Following his death, the circuit was renamed in his honour.

In 1978 the Brazilian Grand Prix moved to Jacarepaguá in Rio de Janeiro. Argentine Carlos Reutemann dominated in his Ferrari. For the following year, Formula One moved back to Interlagos. After the emergence in 1980 of Rio de Janeiro racer Nelson Piquet, the decline of Interlagos and the retirement of Fittipaldi, Brazilian fans lobbied to host the Brazilian GP in Piquet's home town. The flat Jacarepaguá circuit, like Interlagos before it, proved to be extremely demanding: most corners were long and fast, some were slightly banked and the track had a very abrasive surface.

Fans succeeded and the event moved to Jacarepaguá in 1981 and stayed there for a period of nine years. However, the Sao Paulo-born Ayrton Senna’s success prompted the owners of the Interlagos circuit to revamp the track and heavily invest in its infrastructure and modernization. The layout was shortened, the surface was smoothed and the Grand Prix returned to Sao Paulo in 1990 where it has remained since.

Until today, five Brazilian drivers have won in front of their passionate and adoring fans, with Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna and Felipe Massa each winning twice and Jose Carlos Pace winning once.

The track layout

The Autodromo José Carlos Pace track has a total length of 4.309km. During Sunday’s race, drivers will need to circulate 71 times to complete the race distance of 305.909km. The circuit is run counter-clockwise, putting extra pressure and unusual loads on drivers’ shoulders and neck muscles. The course is made up of 15 turns, of which 10 are left-handed ones. The 15 turns of the track are a mixture of speeds, but medium-speed corners are the dominating type.

The lap record is held by Max Verstappen. The Dutchman clocked a 1:11.044 in the 2017 Brazilian Grand Prix. The start is usually relatively calm, the distance from the pole position to the apex of Turn 1 is 334.5m. The start line is on a slight incline, meaning the drivers must hold the brake ahead of the start. Drivers must adhere to a speed limit of 80kph through the 387.1-metre-long pit lane.

The most successful drivers and constructors

King of the Brazilian Grand Prix is the Frenchman Alain Prost. The quadruple world champion claimed victory on six different occasions. Second on this list is Michael Schumacher with four victories. Carlos Reutemann and Sebastian Vettel form the group of the three-time Brazilian Grand Prix victors.

Among the drivers with two wins in their pocket are Nico Rosberg, Felipe Massa, Mark Webber, Juan Pablo Montoya, Mika Häkkinen, Ayrton Sen- na, Nigel Mansell, Nelson Piquet and Emerson Fittipaldi.

McLaren and Ferrari are the most successful constructors in the history of the Brazilian Grand Prix. The British outfit has won 12 races there while its Italian rival squad has eleven victories.
Williams is a six-time Brazilian Grand Prix winning team. Red Bull managed to claim triumph on four occasions while Mercedes on three occasions.