Things to know ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix

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

For this weekend, teams and drivers headed to the sole South American round of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, the Brazilian Grand Prix which takes place at Sao Paulo’s Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace.

At the end of a close qualifying battle, Max Verstappen emerged fastest to grab the first starting position for the Formula 1 Heineken Grande Premio Do Brasil 2019. In a nail-biting fashion, the Dutchman has been quickest in all three parts of yesterday’s qualifying session to secure Red Bull’s 61th pole position.

Long history – Today’s race will be the 47th Brazilian Grand Prix in history. Of the 46 F1 races held in Brazil so far, 36 grands prix took place at Interlagos. The other ten were staged at Rio de Janeiro’s Jacarepagua circuit in two stints (1978 and 1981-1989).

Anniversary – The Formula One World Championship first visited Brazil back in 1973. The inaugural race was staged at the Interlagos circuit which was designed and developed by an Englishman, Loius S. Sanson and opened its gates in 1940.

Second or third – Max Verstappen achieved his second official pole position in yesterday’s qualifying thriller. The Dutchman secured his maiden pole in this year’s Hungarian Grand Prix and repeated this achievement in Mexico a few weeks ago. However, he has been stripped of his pole at Mexico City for failing to slow down enough in yellow flag conditions. The 22-year-old’s officially second pole position was also Honda's second since joining forces with Red Bull, giving the Japanese company its 79th pole position. It's last one in Brazil dates back to 1991 courtesy of Ayrton Senna in the McLaren.

The importance of the first row - The pole man has only won here at Interlagos a total of 15 times out of 36 starts, 41.66% of the time. However, considering the statistics from the past five years, the importance of starting the Brazilian Grand Prix from the first row has significantly grown. In the hybrid era, four races have been won by the pole man. This series was only broken by Sebastian Vettel who won at Interlagos in 2017 after starting from the second place.

Mercedes land – Since the hybrid power units were introduced in Formula One, the Mercedes squad has won every race but one. In 2014 and 2015, it was Nico Rosberg who came out on top at the end of the Brazilian Grand Prix. The next year saw his then-teammate Lewis Hamilton securing the victory which the Briton repeated last year. The only non-Mercedes triumph came in 2017 when Sebastian Vettel put in a heroic performance to fend off the faster Mercedes cars to secure his third Brazilian Grand Prix victory.

The French driver - Alain Prost holds the record for most wins in Brazil. Michael Schumacher is the second most successful driver in the history of the Brazilian Grand Prix. The German won on four occasions of which he took two victories for Benetton while he was victorious with Ferrari twice. Carlos Reutemann and Sebastian Vettel share the third place on this list with three wins apiece.

The Brazilian stars - Home heros Felipe Massa, Ayrton Senna, Emerson Fittipaldi and Nelson Piquet all have two victories on their home turf.

A short one- The Autodromo José Carlos Pace is one of the shortest tracks on the current Grand Prix calendar. Drivers will need to complete 71 laps in total on the 4.309km race circuit to cover the entire race distance of 305.909km.

The important numbers – As common, drivers have to adhere to a speed limit of 80kph in the race while driving through the pit lane. The start and the finish line are not identical with an offset of 30m lying between them.

The Finnish record-keeper – Valtteri Bottas holds the record for the fastest ever race lap at Interlagos. The Finn recorded a 1m10.540 in 2018 to set a new lap record around the undulating, twisting circuit. However, the fastest ever lap belongs to his current teammate Lewis Hamilton who set a lap time of 1m07.281 on his way to secure the pole position for last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

Average fuel usage – The 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix was staged without any interruption as the real and the virtual safety car stayed away from the happenings. Therefore the data on the fuel usage from 2018 gives a good indication on how difficult the Autodromo José Carlos Pace is in this regard. Last year, the driver who needed the least amount of fuel to complete the entire race distance burnt a total of 100kg of petrol while the most thirstiest car used 104kg.

No major changes – Other than routine maintenance, no changes of significance have been made to the Autodromo José Carlos Pace which opened its gates in 1940.

The usual configuration – There will be two DRS zones in today’s race at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace. The first zone has a detection point at the apex of Turn 2 and activation 30m after Turn 3. The second zone has a detection point 30m after Turn 13 and activation 160m before Turn 15.

One-stopper – The sport’s sole tyre supplier Pirelli predicts the one-stop strategy to be the best way to complete today’s 71-lap race. Although the weather is expected to be warmer than yesterday which could further affect tyre behaviour and therefore race strategy, the Milan-based company suggests that different variations of the one-stop strategy could be the winning approach to the grand prix at the track which is usually referred to as Interlagos.

The fastest strategy on paper for the 71-lap Brazilian Grand Prix is a one-stopper, using the red soft tyre for 26 to 29 laps and the white hard for 42 to 45 laps. The second-quickest way is to run the red soft for 34 to 37 laps, and the yellow medium for another 34 to 37 laps.

The tyre choice of the top drivers in Q2 suggests that the five competitors starting from the first five places should attempt a soft-medium one-stopper. With his grid penalty in his mind, Charles Leclerc deliberately prepared an alternative strategy, starting it with his tyre choice in the second qualifying session. The Monegasque put in an impressive performance in Q2 when he set the second fastest time on the harder medium compound to qualify himself for the last segment of the qualifying session. The two-time F1 winner could opt for a medium-soft strategy which could of course depend on the tyre behaviour in today’s hotter conditions.