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Brazilian Grand Prix 2017: Circuit and strategy preview

With two races remaining, RealSport analyses the track and race ahead of what could be an explosive weekend in Brazil with only pride on the line.


Better known as Interlagos, the Autódromo José Carlos Pace, set in the suburbs of Sao Paulo, is underdeveloped compared to most modern day venues. The pit buildings are old and small, the paddock is cramped, and the track surface is very bumpy. Yet for all of that, drivers and fans still absolutely love it.

Playing host to the very first Brazilian Grand Prix in 1973, the track remained on the calendar for seven years before it reappeared again in 1990, albeit this time in truncated form.

Major resurfacing work in 2009 smoothed the asphalt slightly, but in comparison to plush new venues like Abu Dhabi, the surface is a rumble strip. But that only adds to the charm of a circuit which makes up for its lack of refinement with bags of character and passion.

The circuit Autódromo José Carlos Pace is often considered one of the most physically demanding of the season due to its anticlockwise nature. Late on in the race drivers may fatigue due to muscle weakness as F1 drivers often have marginally stronger right-hand sides of their bodies when compared to their left. 

Overtaking opportunities 

The long climb up the hill from Juncao through a left kink and over the start-finish line leads into a good, if slightly risky, overtaking spot at turn one. If a driver is brave enough to stay on the outside he can try and fight back immediately as the cars twist through the Senna-S, so named after Brazilian’s legendary three-time champion Ayrton, a winner at Interlagos in 1991 and 1993.

Turn four is another overtaking spot while turn eight and Juncao (turn 12) have also seen passing action in the past.

Tyre allocation 

Formula 1’s top teams diverged slightly in their tyre selections for the upcoming Brazilian Grand Prix, as the grid overwhelmingly favoured softer compounds.

Mercedes, who won the constructors’ championship at the US GP and helped Lewis Hamilton secure the drivers’ title last time out in Mexico, have chosen eight sets of the supersoft compound and four sets of the soft for both Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Ferrari have settled on nine sets of supersofts and three sets of softs for Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

Red Bull, meanwhile, have split strategies between their two drivers, with Mexico GP winner Max Verstappen getting the same selection as Ferrari and Daniel Ricciardo’s choices in line with those made by Mercedes.

Every team other than Red Bull opted for identical tyre selections for both cars.

Midfield outfits Williams and Haas were the most bullish on supersofts, going for 10 sets of the softest compound available.

All 20 drivers will have only one set of the medium compound at their disposal as nobody decided to add to the one mandatory set of the hardest available tyre designated for the race. This is a growing trend in F1, with questions perhaps placed at Pirelli’s doorstep as to why they even have the medium and hard tyres anymore given that most races use the purple, red and yellow walled tyres. 

The battle for fifth and sixth in the constructors, and therefore millions of development dollars, is coming down to the wire, with Haas, Toro Rosso and Renault separated by 6 points and a struggling Williams only 23 points ahead.

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Matt Ashman

Biosciences graduate with a massive passion for anything with an engine.

Brazilian Grand Prix 2017: Circuit and strategy preview

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