Round 20 of the 2023 FIA Formula One World Championship sees teams and drivers head to the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, home to the Sao Paulo Grand Prix. F1Technical's senior writer Balázs Szabó picks out the vital facts ahead of the ultimate destination of the last triple header of the 2023 F1 season.
The first ever Brazilian Grand Prix was held in 1973, but the history of racing dates back significantly further. Motor racing started in Brazil before the World War II with the first race having been 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 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 in their request 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.
Who could ever forget the dramatic circumstances that led to K-Mag's mega maiden pole position at the 2022 Sao Paulo Grand Prix?! 😅— Formula 1 (@F1) November 1, 2023
Click the video below to watch K-Mag reflect on his epic pole in Brazil 👇🎬#BrazilGP #F1 @HaasF1Team @KevinMagnussen
Prost as the benchmark in Brazil
Alain Prost holds the record for most wins in Brazil. Taking six victories in total, the Frenchman was victorious with three different teams. In 1982, the Brazilian Grand Prix took place as the second round of the championship and Prost, after opening the season with a triumph in South Africa, continued to set the pace with taking another win Brazil with Renault. The following years saw Prost dominating the Brazilian Grand Prix as he secured four wins with McLaren and a single victory for Ferrari.
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, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel share the third place on this list with three wins apiece. Home heros Felipe Massa, Ayrton Senna, Emerson Fittipaldi and Nelson Piquet all have two victories on their home turf. This illustrious list of two-time Brazilian GP winners are joined by Nico Rosberg, Mark Webber, Juan Pablo Montoya, Mika Häkkinen and Nigel Mansell.
When it comes to the constructors, McLaren emerges as the most successful outfit. The fabled British squad has claimed twelve wins in total. Their record of six wins between 1984 and 1993 stands out the most. Thanks to their eleven victories, Ferrari is the second team on this list with just a single win behind their Woking-based rival. Williams holds the third place with six triumphs, followed by the duo of Red Bull and Mercedes. With two victories in their bag, Brabham, Renault and Benetton are the only other repeat winning outfits in the Brazilian Grand Prix.A true rollercoaster
The 4.309km Interlagos track presents a totally different set of requirements to those seen in Mexico a week ago. Finding the perfect set-up usually proves to be quite tricky as the slow- and medium-speed sections require higher levels of downforce while the high-speed parts including the long start-finish curvature present a desire for low drag.
Following the extremely long main straight, drivers arrive to an exciting section where finding the right lines and good rhythm is of key importance. This combination of three bends known as Senna-S comprise the only high-speed corners of the entire circuit. The rear stability is tested by the elongated Turn 3 which then leads onto the second-longest straight of the circuit.
With braking into Turn 4, drivers commence their trip into the second sector of the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace. The next uphill, undulating, curved section is taken at full thottle before drivers slightly touch the brakes to find the maximum speed which they can take Turn 7 at. The next three medium-speed bends build an undulating section where drivers have to rely on the mechanical and tyre grip.
Presenting the last corner of Sector Two, Turn 11 tests the rear stability of the cars. Arriving to Turn 12, drivers keep their focus on the very best acceleration as the upcoming uphill curved section that leads into the main straight is taken at full throttle.