Brazilian Grand Prix
The Brazilian Grand Prix is held in late October or early November at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo. Grand Prix races have been held at this track since the 1970s.
The race track at Sao Paulo dates back to the 1920s, when a large plot of land was deemed inadequate for housing and subsequently acquired by British entrepreneur, Louis Romero Sanson. However, his ambitious plans to build a racing circuit had to be put on hold following the Brazilian economic crisis of 1929. Nevertheless, races were starting to take place in Rio de Janeiro. Sao Paulo was encouraged to follow their lead, holding a ‘Grand Prix’ through the streets of the city in 1936.
At the end of this race, one of the drivers lost control and spun into the crowd, killing four spectators. It was then decided that Sanson should continue with his plans to provide a safer circuit for motor-races. In 1938, the Interlagos (meaning “in between lakes”) circuit began to take shape and the track was officially opened in 1940. In 1947, Interlagos hosted its first international competition.
In 1954, Sanson sold the track to the city of Sao Paulo. 1957 saw the start of major renovations, as the track was separated to make two tracks: one for high-speed races and the other for more testing competitions. The track was closed again for major refurbishment in 1967 and was not re-opened until 1970.
It wasn’t until the 1970s, when the native Emerson Fittipaldi came to international motor-racing attention, that Brazil decided it wanted a Grand Prix held in the country. As such, the track was closed in 1971, in order to make it worthy of Formula One racing. A non-championship Formula One race was held at Interlagos in 1972 and was won by Carlos Reutemann. On February 11th 1973, Brazil fulfilled its dream of hosting a Grand Prix at Sao Paulo, and Emerson Fittipaldi was victorious. In 1978, the city lost the Grand Prix to Jacarepagua in Rio de Janeiro, but won it back the following year.
However, the Brazilian Grand Prix moved back to Rio in 1981 because it was decided that the slums of Sao Paulo did not portray the right image for a Grand Prix race. The circuit was renamed ‘The Jose Carlos Pace Circuit’ in 1985, following the tragic death of the famous Brazilian racing driver, in 1977. Despite this name change, the track is still generally referred to as Interlagos.
By 1989, Rio de Janeiro could no longer afford to host the Formula One Grand Prix, fortunately making way for Sao Paulo. The impressive rise to fame of local Sao Paulo legend, Ayrton Senna, led to a $15 million renovation of the circuit and its surrounding area. The Brazilian Grand Prix permanently returned to Interlagos in 1990. In this same year, the circuit length was adjusted from 4.893 miles, to 2.687 miles. In 1997, further alterations reduced the lap size to its current length of 2.667 miles.
The circuit receives yearly renovations, which ensure the track complies with Formula One regulations. In 2004, the Brazilian Grand Prix was moved to the end of the Formula One calendar, in order to avoid the unpredictable March/April weather. It was the final race of the season in 2004, 2006 and 2007. 2008 will see a similar pattern emerge and Sao Paulo may well host the Championship-deciding race.
The Interlagos circuit is 2.677 miles long, and the race consists of 71 laps. The total race length is 190.067 miles. Currently, Interlagos is the third shortest Grand Prix circuit and also one of the slowest. It is also one of the most testing tracks, due to its variety of corners and frequent changes in elevation, which can cause major cramps and fatigue in drivers.
Interlagos offers only two opportunities for passing: at Senna’s S at the end of the pit straight and Descida do Lago. It also runs in an anti-clockwise direction, so the majority (10 out of 15) of corners are left-handers.
The Brazilian Grand Prix has been won by 5 Brazilians: Emerson Fittipaldi (1973-4), Carlos Pace (1975), Nelson Piquet (1983 and 1986, both at Jacarepagua), Ayrton Senna (1991 and 1993) and Felipe Massa (2006). 2008 will see the arrival of Nelson Piquet Jr., or “Nelsinho”, the son of three-times Formula One World Champion Nelson Piquet.
He will be the team-mate of 2006 World Champion, Fernando Alonso, on the Renault team. He will join fellow Brazilians, Felipe Massa and Rubens Barrichello, in trying to bring the World Championship to Brazil.
|Number of Wins||Driver and Nationality||Years|
|6||Alain Prost (French)||1982, 1984-5, 1987-8, 1990|
|4||Carlos Reutemann (Argentine)||1972, 1977-8, 1981|
|4||Michael Schumacher||1994-5, 2000, 2002|
|2||Emerson Fittipaldi (Brazilian)||1973-4|
|2||Nelson Piquet (Brazilian)||1983, 1986|
|2||Nigel Mansell (British)||1989, 1992|
|2||Ayrton Senna (Brazilian)||1991, 1993|
|2||Mika Hakkinen (Finnish)||1998-9|
|2||Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombian)||2004-5|
2006: Brazil’s Interlagos circuit hosted Michael Schumacher’s final race in Formula One. He made his way up from eighteenth, following some problems, to finish fourth behind Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso and Jensen Button.
2005: Fernando Alonso won the Formula One World Championship at Interlagos in 2005.
2003: After seven years racing for Formula One, Italian, Giancarlo Fisichella, finally snatched a victory at Interlagos in 2003. The race was competed in heavy rainfall, which caused many drivers to spin out, including the then World Champion, Michael Schumacher. Fernando Alonso was involved in a serious accident, which blocked the circuit and led to the red flag being pulled out. After much deliberation, Fisichella was named the winner.
2001: This year signalled the arrival of Juan Pablo Montoya, the first man to really compete against Michael Schumacher. Despite being knocked out of the 2001 Brazilian Grand Prix, he enjoyed a string of wins that year and finally won at Interlagos in 2004.
Records (correct as of 2007)
- Fastest lap time: Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) – 1 minute 11.473 seconds in 2004.
- Most wins (driver): Alain Prost (6)
- Most wins (constructors): McLaren (11)
At the time of writing, ticket information for the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix was unavailable. However, for up-to-date information, visit the Official Formula One site here. This site allows you to book race tickets, as well as hotels, flights and car hire.
Interlagos has a relatively small capacity of only 80,000, so it is advisable to book tickets in good time. There are also no general admission tickets. For raceday tickets, you can expect to pay in excess of £150.
The Grand Prix circuit is located in the Interlagos part of the city, on the opposite side to Sao Paulo’s International Airport of Guarulhos. This airport is located about 13 miles north-east of the city and 25 miles from the track itself. Shuttle services are available, which link the airport to the city centre. Bus services and a subway system connect the city to the circuit. Taxis and car hire are also relatively cheap in Sao Paulo.
Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace/ Interlagos
Avenida Senador Teotonio Vilela 261
- Tel: (55) 11 521 9911
- Fax: (55) 11 247 3766
- Website: http://www.gpbrasil.com/
|2005||Juan Pablo Montoya||Colombian||McLaren-Mercedes||Interlagos|
|2004||Juan Pablo Montoya||Columbian||Williams-BMW||Interlagos|
|1972 (non-Championship)||Carlos Reutemann||Argentine||Brabham-Ford||Interlagos|