The penultimate round of the 2014 Formula 1 season takes teams and drivers to one of the F1’s shortest but most demanding track, the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in the Interlagos district of Sao Paulo, home of the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Although the circuit is just 4.309km long, making it the second shortest on the calendar after Monaco, it packs plenty of challenges into its 15 corners. The narrow track runs anti-clockwise around a natural amphitheatre, the contours of which provide a touch combination of technically demanding medium and slow-speed turns linked by high-speed straits and bends. The topography means many of these are off-camber, increasing the challenge.
One characteristic of the track, its notorious bumpiness, could be ameliorated somewhat this year, as the track has been completely resurfaced. This should help with car set-up, though how much is still open to question.
The other major set-up consideration is the altitude. At 800m Interlagos is the highest altitude circuit of the year and the thinner air has in the past led to engines producing 7-8 per cent less power here than would be the case at the sea level. How teams will work the new hybrid power unit to migrate against this will be interesting. The altitude effecting aerodynamic performance, too, and as such teams will run high downforce packages to cope with the inefficiency. The lack of the aerodynamic grip also means that the importance of good mechanical grip is emphasised. The final variable is, of course, the weather and conditions at Interlagos at this time of year are notoriously hard to read.
Lewis Hamilton’s tenth win of the season at last weekend’s US Grand Prix handed him a sizeable advantage over Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in the battle for the drivers’ title. The championship cannot be won here, however, and given Interlagos’ unpredictable nature the title fight could yet spring a few surprises. (FIA)
The stats you need – Brazilian GP
Race distance: 71 laps (305.909km/190.092 miles)
Start time: 14:00 (local)/16:00 (GMT)
Circuit length: 4.309km/2.677 miles
First race: 1973
What makes it special: Brazilians love F1, so there’s always a lively atmosphere at this race. The eclectic mix of corners – many of them off-camber – also provides the drivers with an interesting challenge
Wins from pole position: 11
Track abrasiveness: Medium. New asphalt has been laid for this year’s race and Pirelli believe it will be less abrasive than the old track surface, which was laid back in 2007.
Pirelli tyre choice: Soft (Option) / Medium (Prime), a combination that has already been used seven times this year (Australia, Bahrain, China, Hungary, Belgium, Russia, USA)
2013 winning strategy: Two pitstops
Fuel consumption: Low. The lower air density at an altitude of 800m gives this racetrack one of the lowest fuel consumption rates per km of the season
Brake wear: Medium. There are two big stops around the lap, into Turns One and Four, but the remainder is relatively low-speed, without any big braking areas.
Weather: Sao Paulo is notorious for its unpredictable weather. It can be warm and sunny and then raining hard within a few minutes.
DRS zones: Two – the first is on the start-finish straight; the second is on the approach to Turn Four
Turbo effect: High. The altitude decreases the amount of power produced by the engine on its own, placing greater emphasis on the turbo to maintain power.
Safety Car likelihood: High. The Brazilian Grand Prix is one of the most unpredictable races of the year, with a 70 percent chance of a Safety Car.
Grid advantage: The right-hand side is the racing line, so it holds an advantage on the undulating dash to Turn One
Pitlane time: 18.5s. (McLaren)