Interlagos at just over 800 metres, the atmospheric pressure is 10% lower than at sea level and while this doesn’t sap power with a turbo engine, like it does with a normally aspirated one, it does make the Energy Recovery System work harder on the turbo side.
It is also the shortest lap of the season in terms of lap time, a quick lap there being under 1m 12 seconds, so the qualifying and racing have an intense quality about them. The circuit has a fast downhill sector one and final uphill sector three, with a tight infield sector in the middle.
Track length : 4.309 kilometres.
Race distance : 71 laps (305.909 kilometres).
Corners : 15 corners in total
Average speed : 210km/h. A classic circuit set in a natural bowl, in a suburb of Sao Paulo.
Aerodynamic setup : Med/High downforce.
Top speed : 323km/h (with DRS open) 311km/h without.
Full throttle : 60% of the lap time (ave/high).
Brake wear : light.
Number of braking events : 6, Time spent braking – 16% of the lap.
Total time needed for a pit stop : 20 seconds
Lap record : 1:11.473 (Colombia Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams BMW, 2004)
The weather in Sao Paulo is likely to be characteristically dramatic over the next few days, but conditions should settle down in time for Sunday’s race. Before then thunderstorms could arrive in time to disrupt qualifying. The heat and humidity will build over the next few days, pushing up to 32C on Saturday before the expected storms begin in the afternoon.
Friday may also see some rain however it is expected not to arrive until after the day’s practice sessions have concluded. Whereas last year’s race was surprisingly hot, Sunday is expected to be the coolest of the three days this year, with temperatures only in the low twenties, quite different to the conditions the drivers will have practised in.
There are two DRS zones. The first has a detection point at the apex of T2, with activation 20m after T3, while the second has its activation point 30m after T13, with an activation point 60m after T15.
The P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft compound have been nominated for this year's Brazilian Grand Prix: the most popular combination of the season, which has been selected for the ninth and final time in 2015.
Brazil is one of the shortest but most intense laps of the year, with the circuit running in an anti-clockwise direction, which is quite unusual in Formula One. There is plenty of work for both the tyres and the drivers - as the Interlagos track requires a high degree of physical effort - and the situation is often made more complex by variable weather conditions. Last year, the hottest track temperatures recorded all season were in Brazil, but the race has also been affected by heavy rain in the past. If it remains dry, Interlagos is ideal territory for the versatile medium and soft slick compounds.
Expected performance gap between the two compounds: 0.9 seconds per lap.
The chances of a Safety Car are high at 63%. The Safety Car has been used in seven of the last 11 races. It is often called into action on the first lap, as it’s a short lap with 24 cars charging into tight corners. This makes the Safety Car an important element to factor into Race Strategy planning. It encourages teams to hedge their bets and split strategies, with one car doing a conventional two-stop plan and the other on a one-stop, a plan that would benefit from a safety car deployment. This is because a safety car would close up the field reducing any time loss and if timed well, would allow a one-stopping car to effectively get a free pit stop.
This weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix could well be a record-breaking Formula 1 event, as the sport heads into the penultimate race of the 2015 season. Most of the lap-records on the current F1 calendar are held by drivers who raced in 2004, when the V10 engine era built to a crescendo before being restrained by tyres built to last an entire race in 2005 and then the switch to V8 power in 2006.
But as was the case last time out in Mexico, the V6 turbo engines F1 uses now are less affected by high altitude than normally aspirated power units. At the 2014 Brazilian Grand Prix, which is 765m above sea level, Nico Rosberg claimed pole position with a time just 0.201s slower than Rubens Barrichello’s 1m09.822s record set at Interlagos 11 years ago. With the progress made to the V6 engines over the last 12 months, there is a very real chance we could see a long-standing F1 record broken this weekend.
Last year's strategy and how the race was won: There was heatwave last year, so this was not entirely typical of what we would expect to see this time. In 2014, Nico Rosberg won the race for Mercedes using a three-stop strategy. He started on the soft tyre and then changed to the medium on laps seven, 26 and 50. The highest-placed two-stopper, Kimi Raikkonen, finished seventh.
Rosberg kept Lewis Hamilton from pole position by just three-hundredths of a second at this track last year and went on to inflict a vital defeat on his team mate as the pair were scrapping for the championship. Twelve months later there’s only pride at stake, but with Rosberg having taken the last four pole positions in a row and Hamilton anxious to finally cross Interlagos off the very short list of F1 tracks he hasn’t won at yet, we may get a suitably spicy encounter between the two.
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