Preview 10: Brazilian GP
Date published: November 5 2014
The weather forecasters say it’s going to be wet in Brazil – and when it’s wet, anything can happen.
Following his fourth place finish in Austin, home boy Felipe Massa will be hoping he can make the podium at Interlagos. If anybody has insider knowledge of the track, it’s Felipe, and he’s won the race before. Austria was a circuit where the Williams team did well and that was also at altitude. The demand for power from the final corner Juncao up the hill and across the start/finish straight is going to hand an advantage to the Mercedes-powered cars.
There have been some memorable downpours at Interlagos, and the weather at the weekend is forecast to be wet and thundery on Friday and Saturday, and just wet some time on Sunday…
With the track placing a demand on horsepower and Mercedes showing that they haven a one-second advantage over the field in Austin, the likely outcome if it stays dry is a Merc 1-2. But how will the W05 handle over Interlagos’s notorious bumps?
Daniel Ricciardo was 10th here last year and admits that he struggles at the anti-clockwise track: “I can’t honestly say what the secret is to getting a good lap at Interlagos because I’m not sure I’ve ever really nailed it! I’ve been OK but it hasn’t yet given up its secrets. I think the best approach is to not look beyond the next corner. It pays to be ultra-precise with your track positioning and your braking: you have to concentrate on the turn that you’re in, rather than thinking too far ahead because for most of the lap the corners are individual events rather than part of a sequence.
With high-speed corners and an anti-clockwise track, Brazil is often the track where rookies find out exactly how strong their neck muscles are after 71 laps.
Pastor Maldonado is hoping that the team can carry on the progress they showed at the USGP and also for a few Venezuelan flags in the crowd: “Interlagos may not have the most impressive infrastructure but it is a great, historic circuit. I really love the track, the atmosphere and the people – there will be a lot of Venezuelans there! Hopefully we can have a great race and put on a good show for the South American fans.”
Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel all have fond memories of Interlagos because they’ve all won World Championships at the final race here. Ironically the one person who heart-breakingly lost a World Championship at the final corner, on the final lap, of the final race, has the fondest memories of all, because he grew up nearby.
It’s one of the shortest laps of the year, with a lap record of just 1:11. This means that qualifying (behind the Mercedes) is likely to be down to very narrow margins between the second row and the fifth row. The tricky first corner complex of the Senna Esses usually claims a front wing or two at the start – although with narrower front wings in 2014, first-lap incidents have been at an all-time low.
Pirelli will be bringing Soft and Medium tyres to the race, but since last year there has been resurfacing work at the Autodrome (Jose) Carlos Pace, so there may yet be some surprises to come in tyre wear.
Williams’ Rob Smedley’s analysis of the track is not good news for rivals Ferrari who have struggled with turn-in on their F14T: “You need a really good front end in the middle sector, but good traction from the corners. Getting the most out of the tyres is important in Brazil and the new asphalt will play a part in this.” There’s also been a change to the pitlane entrance to make it safer, after the old one was part of the racing line.