Round 21 of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship takes the Formula 1 field to Brazil, for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace.
Following just a few days after the incident-filled Mexico City Grand Prix, Formula One made a nine-hour flight to Sao Paulo that plays host to the final destination of the season's last triple header. The Brazilian Grand Prix, that has been referred to as Sao Paulo Grand Prix since 2021, has been held in Interlagos since 1990, but it has also taken place at the Jacarepaguà circuit in Rio de Janeiro 10 times.
Sao Paulo will host the sixth and final F1 Sprint event of the season, marking the third successive year in which Interlagos has held the alternative format.
As far as the tyre selection is concerned, teams will have to work with a trio of slightly harder compounds at Sao Paulo as Pirelli chose the C2 compound as P Zero White hard, C3 as P Zero Yellow medium, and C4 as P Zero Red soft.
Tyre degradation has not followed the same pattern in recent years. While cold weather usually leads to lower degradation, it can be quite severe in high ambient temperatures. The undulating circuit is compact, at only 4.3km, and features a sequence of long-radius medium- and high-speed corners, meaning that tyres are subjected to enormous stress. Strong straight-line speed is also vital due to the lengthy full throttle section into the Senna S, a complex through which drivers plunge, which is named after the Brazilian legend Ayrton Senna.
As a result of this extremely long full-throttle, curved section where tyre can recover from the stress generated by the long-radius corners of the middle sector, the overall tyre stress is medium according to Pirelli with both the lateral and longitudinal forces are considered average. That is why weather conditions play an enormous role in tyre behaviour, as higher temperatures significantly increase the tyre degradation and wear, more than at many other venues.
The minimum starting pressures will be set at 23.0 psi for the front tyres and 21.0psi for the tyre tyres. Teams will be limited to camber limits of -3.25° for the front and -2.00° for the rear tyres.
As for the strategy in last year's Brazilian F1 race, both race winner George Russell and second-placed Lewis Hamilton adopted an identical two-stop strategy: soft tyres at the start, followed by a middle stint on medium and a final stint on soft. Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz completed the podium with a three-stopper, alternating between the medium and soft compounds.
Commenting on the forthcoming Sao Paulo Grand Prix, Pirelli's Motorsport Director Mario Isola said: “The Interlagos circuit in the Brazilian city of São Paulo is well-known for providing thrilling races. The lap is only 4.309 kilometres long, making it one of the shortest of the year, with only Monaco and Mexico City being shorter.
"It’s also run anti-clockwise and situated on a hillside, which gives it a unique character. The drivers face a steep downhill section after the first corner, followed by a long climb uphill with several winding turns, and then a long straight leading back to the finish line. The track has 15 corners – five right-handers and nine left-handers – with several direction changes. Interlagos has a bit of everything, featuring low as well as medium speed corners, and the cars running quite a high level of downforce. The forces acting on the tyres are reasonably balanced between lateral and longitudinal.
"The asphalt itself has a high level of roughness: typical of permanent tracks with a long history behind them. Degradation is mainly thermal, so the C2, C3, and C4 compounds have been chosen. A two-stopper is the most likely strategy, while a one-stopper would require plenty of tyre management; affecting race pace.
"The safety car has often featured during the grand prix, introducing another key variable, and we have also seen that weather conditions can vary rapidly and widely at this time of year as well. Interlagos will additionally host the final sprint round of the season, giving the teams and drivers another chance to assess tyre behaviour over long runs. Since sprint races came in for the 2021 season, Interlagos has always been one of them – a sure sign of how this track consistently delivers the sort of close racing that suits the sprint format," Isola concluded.