F1 Track Preview with N. Hulkenberg – GP of Brazil

F1 Track Preview with N. Hulkenberg – GP of Brazil

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The German Force India F1 driver is looking forward to the Brazilian Grand prix: „And you just feel that history, the emotions and the passion.”

“I have lots of good memories from Brazil. It’s where I got a pole position in my debut year in 2010. There I had one of my best days in 2012. That was a very special race. I lead for 40 laps in mixed conditions. It was exciting from the lights: it was dry, then it started to drizzle and some people stopped for intermediate tyres. But I stayed out, took a risk and made it work. It was a special experience and one of my best performances to date.”
“I feel really comfortable and happy in Sao Paulo. The lifestyle of the Brazilian people really attracts me. The vibe of the city is great and I love the food too. I think feeling at ease somewhere plays a big part in performing well, so I am looking forward to this weekend.
“There is a lot of history at Interlagos and it’s an enjoyable track to drive. My highlight is the second sector. It’s twisty and technical, and a challenge to get it just right. The Senna Esses are an interesting corner combination as well – you can easily ruin a lap very early on if you get them wrong.
“The weather changes very quickly in Sao Paulo – the clouds come up to the track all of a sudden and hit us, which makes for some crazy weather and some crazy races, which is something I quite enjoy!”
Circuit stats

2015 winner Nico Rosberg, 71 laps, 1:31:09.090s

Pole position 2015 Nico Rosberg,1m11.282s

2015 fastest lap Lewis Hamilton, 1m14.832s (lap 51)

Name Autódromo José Carlos Pace

First race 1973

Circuit length 4.309km/2.677 miles (3rd shortest of the season)

Distance to Turn One 190m/0.118 miles (longest of the season: Mexico, 800m/0.497 miles)

Longest straight 650m/0.404 miles, on the approach to the Turn One

Top speed 325km/h/202mph, on the approach to Turn One

Pitlane length 380m/0.236 miles, estimated time loss 21s

Full throttle 60 per cent

DRS zones Two, on the approach to Turns One and Four

Key corner Turn 12, Junção. A third-gear left-hander – drivers take it at 130km/h (81mph). It’s crucial to get the power down cleanly because the long, uphill drag to the finish-line follows, at the end of which is one of the best overtaking points on the lap

Fastest corner 257km/h (160mph), Turn Five

Slowest corner 72km/h (45mph), Turn 10

Major changes for 2016 None, except for maintenance work

Fuel consumption 1.49kg per lap, which is low

ERS demands – high. There are several places around the lap where ERS deployment is crucial, but there are only two heavy braking zones in which to regain energy under braking

Brake wear – low. There are six braking zones around the lap, but only two of them are heavy. Just 15 per cent of the lap is braking

Gear changes are 42 per lap/2,982 per race

History lesson

There have been two iterations of the Interlagos circuit. When it first hosted the Brazilian Grand Prix in 1973, it was a 7.960km/4.946-mile roller-coaster ride around the side of the natural bowl in which the track is located. It was shortened and modernised following a $15 million injection in the late ’80s and the current layout has staged the Brazilian Grand Prix every year since 1990.

What makes it unique

Bumps. The track was built on marshland between two lakes, hence the name ‘Interlagos’, and its soft foundations mean bumps appear over time. The track was re-surfaced two years ago, but the new surface is already becoming increasingly bumpy.

Grip levels

High. The cars immediately circulated close to lap record pace when the new asphalt was laid two years ago and grip levels improve over time when small cracks appear in the surface. The drivers are expecting good levels of grip this weekend.

Run-off

Medium. The proximity of surrounding roads and houses means it hasn’t been possible to push back the barriers as far as might be conventional at a new circuit. But there’s ample run-off at the fastest points on the lap – on the approaches to Turns One and Four.

Watch out for… Changeable weather conditions. Should it rain, the undulating nature of the circuit means rivers form very quickly at various points around the lap. The depth of water is particularly bad at the exit of Turn Three, where lots of cars have spun off in the past.

Event facts

First Brazilian Grand Prix was in 1973.

Brazil’s F1 heritage: There have been 30 Brazilian F1 drivers, including three multiple world champions – Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna. It was the popularity of Fittipaldi, who won his first world title in 1972, that was the driving force behind the inaugural Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos in 1973. The race has been a permanent fixture on the F1 calendar ever since.

Smallest winning margin: 0.588s, in 2002. The third race of the season, but the first at which Ferrari took its 2002-spec car. Michael Schumacher and pole-sitter Juan Pablo Montoya collided at the start, handing Schumacher the lead. The German then surprised the field by one-stopping and there was nothing brother Ralf, who two-stopped, could do to pass him in the closing laps.

Sporting legacy: Football is the most ubiquitous sport in Brazil and the country has hosted the World Cup twice, most recently in 2014. But its presence on the international sporting stage was cemented last summer at the Rio Olympics, where Brazil finished 13th in the medals table. However, it was with some sadness that we learnt the Jacarepaguá circuit, home to the Brazilian Grand Prix on 10 occasions, was built on to house the Olympic village.

Did you know?

For five consecutive years, from 2005-’09 inclusive, the drivers’ world title was decided at the Brazilian Grand Prix. If Nico Rosberg wins this year’s race, the same will be true in 2016.

Fan zone Connie, aged 37, from Toronto, asks: “How does the anti-clockwise direction of Interlagos affect the drivers?”

McLaren’s answer: “It places the muscles on the left side of the neck under extreme stress. The effects will be felt less in 2016 because there are several anti-clockwise tracks on the calendar. The Circuit of The Americas was a left-handed track and will have helped to condition the neck muscles. The high-G left-hand sweep towards the start-finish line at Interlagos presents a unique challenge for which the drivers will have to train specifically.”

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