Reports

Brazil F1 Grand Prix

2017 BRAZILIAN GRAND PRIX – SET UP

Interlagos is one of the oldest and most historic venues on the Formula 1 calendar. The circuit staged its first world championship race in 1973, on a breathtakingly fast 7.960km/4.946-mile layout that McLaren world champion Emerson Fittipaldi described as “a rollercoaster”. The track was shortened and modified in the late ’80s for safety reasons and the new layout has hosted the Brazilian Grand Prix every year since 1990

NEED TO KNOW

Race title Formula 1 Gran Premio do Brasil 2017
Circuit name Autódromo José Carlos Pace
First race 1973

TRAVEL

City Sao Paulo
Time zone GMT -2 / CET -3
Population 15 million
Surprising fact Sao Paulo has the third-largest concentration of skyscrapers in the world, behind New York and Hong Kong
Local speciality Brazil has many cultural influences, all of which combine to make the country a culinary delight. Meat is a staple in many dishes, a highlight of which is Feijoada, the national stew. The ingredients are salty meat, rice, beans and farofa, a toasted manioc flour mix
Weather The weather is notoriously unreliable in Sao Paulo. Temperatures are currently around 22 degrees and sunshine is expected over the race weekend. But you can never discount the possibility of rain – it’s Sao Paulo!

Track

Track length 4.309km / 2.677 miles
2016 pole position Lewis Hamilton - 1:10.736s
2016 winner Lewis Hamilton, 71 laps - 3:01:01.335s
2016 fastest lap Max Verstappen - 1:25.305s (lap 67)
Lap record 1:11.473s (Juan Pablo Montoya, 2004)
Tyre choice Red Supersoft | Yellow Soft | White Medium
Distance to Turn One 190m / 0.118 miles
Longest straight 650m / 0.404 miles (on the approach to Turn One)
Top speed 320kmh / 199mph (on the approach to Turn One)
Full throttle 62 per cent
Brake wear Low. There are only six braking zones around the lap, of which only two are heavy. Just 15 per cent of the lap is spent braking
Fuel consumption 1.49kg per lap, which is low
ERS demands High. There is a relatively high amount of ERS deployment around the lap, but not many places in which to recover the energy through braking
Gear changes 42 per lap / 2982 per race

RACE

Laps 71 laps
Start time 14:00hrs local / 16:00hrs GMT / 17:00hrs CET
Grid advantage The outside of the track, where pole position is located, holds a definite advantage because it’s on the racing line. It’s one of the shortest dashes of the year to Turn One, so the cars are still very congested when they turn in and there’s often contact
DRS There are two DRS zones, on the approaches to Turns One and Four
Don't put the kettle on... Last year’s race was atypical, due to the wet conditions. Lewis Hamilton won the race with three stints on the Wet tyre; Max Verstappen, in third, split his race into six stints, alternating between the Wet and Intermediate tyres. If this year’s race is dry, the expectation is for one pitstop because Pirelli is taking relatively conservative tyre choices
Pitlane length/Pitstops 380m/0.236 miles (It takes 20s to make a stop; drivers need to be careful not to cross the white line on pit entry)
Safety Car 70 per cent. This race is traditionally incident-filled, with a Safety Car period or a Virtual Safety Car period occurring most years
Watch out for... The weather. Sao Paulo’s nickname is Terra da Garoa, “the land of drizzle”, and with good reason. Conditions can change quickly, which often leads to exciting races

THE DRIVERS

FERNANDO ALONSO

“Interlagos is one of the great ‘classic’ tracks on the calendar, with an incredible history and a long list of famous names that have lifted the trophy. It’s also one of the most dramatic grands prix of the year – there are always incidents and action and the weather plays a big part in the outcome. 

“This circuit should suit our car better than the last couple of tracks, so we hope we can give ourselves the best chance in qualifying as starting position is very important in a race where a lot can happen. It’s a really fun track – a short lap with a good flow, and the new cars this year will make it feel even faster. During the race, if you can get a good rhythm through the final corner it really helps down the start-finish straight and into Turn One, and then you can attack the first corner going into the next lap. It’s part of what makes this circuit so exciting.  

“After the USA and Mexico, we’re looking ahead to Brazil and Abu Dhabi with a bit more expectation as we knew those tracks would be really difficult for us. However, Mexico was definitely a surprise and we performed better than we anticipated. This will surely be a tricky race and there are always risks to take with the weather and strategy, but if we can start the race from where we should be in qualifying, it could give us a good chance to score some points.”

STOFFEL VANDOORNE

“I’m looking forward to tackling another new circuit next weekend in Brazil, especially one that is considered so legendary among the fans and the other drivers. Interlagos is the place where championships have been won and lost, and classic grands prix have taken place with great names like Senna and Prost winning some of F1’s most famous races. 

“Like every circuit we race on, I put in a lot of preparation with my engineers in the simulator, so by the time we head out onto the track on Friday morning I feel completely ready to tackle it and already comfortable with the layout and set-up the circuit requires. This means that, like Fernando, I can spend FP1 dialling-in the car to the track and conditions and give valuable feedback to the team so they can gather as much as information as possible. 

“Qualifying at Interlagos is always important because you never know what can happen in the race. In Mexico I had a great start, so if we can start further up the grid in Brazil – providing we can avoid more penalties – it’ll open up good opportunities in the race. It’s important to stay out of trouble and have a clean race and then we can see what we can do from there. There’s everything to play for and I’m excited to experience the famous atmosphere at Interlagos thanks to the enthusiastic Brazilian fans.”

THE MANAGEMENT

ERIC BOULLIER

“As we enter the penultimate race weekend of the season, Interlagos is always a fantastic venue to visit and the scene of a number of dramatic and poignant grands prix for McLaren. The undulating nature of the circuit is one of the most famous configurations on the calendar, and provides a real test for not only the car and driver but also the whole team. 

“It's one of a few races of the season where anything can happen – and often does – and can mean a challenging weekend for our mechanics, engineers and strategists alike, because of the drama the weather conditions often create on this unforgiving circuit. The difference between a solid points-scoring result and not is often the number of gambles the teams of strategists up and down the pitlane have to take depending on the given weather situation, which makes it one of the most exciting race weekends on the calendar. 

“For McLaren, we’re heading into the weekend with cautious optimism as we know that statistically this circuit should suit the strengths of our package better than the past couple of venues we’ve visited. Both of our drivers are well prepared for the weekend ahead and the whole team is looking forward to the legendary welcome we always receive from the incredible Brazilian crowds. I hope we can contribute to the great show the enthusiastic fans have come to expect there each year and end the weekend with a positive result.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA

“After ending busy back-to-back races in the USA and Mexico, we’re now heading to Brazil and the penultimate race of the season. 

“Last time out in Mexico ended with a positive atmosphere in the team after Fernando snatched an all-important championship point. We’re now looking to maintain that momentum as we head to Interlagos. 

“The legendary Autódromo José Carlos Pace is a relatively short, albeit challenging, track. It is highly technical with a variety of swooping corners and elevation changes, and overtaking is notoriously tricky. PU set-up will be key to ensuring good driveability throughout the lap.  

“Brazil will always be a special place for Honda due to our great history with Ayrton Senna. We receive a warm welcome from the fans every time we go there, and hopefully we can show them a good race.”

2017 BRAZILIAN GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE

"MORE TO FIND FROM BOTH CARS"

McLaren Honda kicked off its Brazilian Grand Prix weekend in warm sunshine after the threat of afternoon rain subsided.

Neither driver was completely happy with the balance and drivability of their MCL32s, each ending the day with a degree of head-scratching after the car proved reluctant to fall into its regular sweet-spot.

Fernando encountered a small PU issue at the start of the afternoon session, choosing to stop in the pit-lane as a precaution. The issue was promptly resolved by his mechanics with minimal delay to his run-plan.

Armed with plenty of data, our engineers will chew through the numbers this evening in a bid to get us back on track for tomorrow.

FERNANDO ALONSO

#FA14 MCL32-05
FP1 1:10.476s (+1.274s) 24 laps 10th
FP2 1:10.655s (+1.140s) 31 laps 10th
FP3 1:10.288s (+1.007s) 15 laps 6th

“Today was more difficult than we’d expected. We had some problems in the first session, then a PU pressure issue in the second session. We lost some valuable track time, and in the end we didn’t manage to complete our programme. We tried to carry out the priority items on our run-plan, and we’re more or less happy with the outcome.

“There’s still a little more to come from the car tomorrow – some tuning on the set-up – so we’ll see what we can do. Times are very close here, and if it stays dry making it into Q3 is going to be tight. We’ll have more chance if it rains.”

STOFFEL VANDOORNE

#SV2 MCL32-04
FP1 1:10.402s (+1.200s) 26 laps 8th
FP2 1:10.902s (+1.387s) 38 laps 13th
FP3 1:10.637s (+1.356s) 21 laps 11th

“Today was a very positive day. FP1 was my first session driving here at Interlagos. We’ve brought a new upgraded aero package for my car this weekend so we started FP1 learning about and understanding that, which generally went very well.

“FP2 was maybe a little bit more difficult – we tried some different settings and made some changes that weren’t necessarily in the right direction. However, our long-run performance was extremely positive – one of our strongest of the year so far I would say.

“Everything is looking good for the race. We still need to put everything together tomorrow, but a good qualifying would put us in a strong position for Sunday.”

THE MANAGEMENT

ERIC BOULLIER

“With the threat of wet weather hanging over the afternoon, we were keen to press on with our Friday programme just in case the rains fell during one of the sessions.

“Happily, we were able to run all day without the weather closing in, and rattled through a busy and intensive session as we continue to trial components and ideas that we can take forward onto next year’s car.

“Neither Fernando nor Stoffel ended the day really completely with the balance of their car, so we’ve got a bit of work to do tonight to get a consistent handle on the car’s sweet-spot. Fernando, too, had a small issue in FP2 that delayed his progress.

“On the face of it, this wasn’t a bad day, but there’s definitely a little bit more to come from us.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA

“Despite the rain forecast for Friday, we finished both practice sessions with dry conditions. Overall, it was a smooth day and we completed our scheduled programmes.

“From the PU point of view, although we found a small issue with Fernando’s car during FP2, we managed to fix it quickly, thanks to a great job from our mechanics. Other than this, we were able to finish all the sessions without any major concerns.

“We will continue to proceed with our set-up in tomorrow's FP3 session, as we think there are more improvements to find from both cars.

“Tomorrow’s running could be tricky, due to the high temperatures and sudden rain. We will remain focused on qualifying, as this is the circuit where we would look to get both cars into Q3.”

2017 BRAZILIAN GRAND PRIX – QUALIFYING

“A GENUINELY BRILLIANT QUALIFYING EFFORT”

Fernando Alonso wrung the absolute maximum from his car in qualifying this afternoon to line up sixth on the grid for tomorrow’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

The Spaniard had looked a top-10 contender all weekend, and set the sixth-fastest time in Q2 and the seventh-quickest lap in Q3. He gains one place on the grid due to fifth-fastest Daniel Ricciardo’s 10-place starting penalty.

Stoffel will line up 12th (he qualified 13th, but also benefits from Ricciardo’s penalty), but, affected by overnight food poisoning, was unable to extract the decisive final tenths from his car.

With dry and sunny weather forecast for tomorrow’s race, it may prove difficult to move forwards in the grand prix, but both drivers are confident of strong race pace tomorrow.

FERNANDO ALONSO

#FA14 MCL32-05
Q1 1:10.172s (11th) Option tyre
Q2 1:09.593s (6th) Option tyre
Q3 1:06.617s (7th - will start 6th due to a 10-place PU grid penalty for RIC) Option tyre

“I’m happy with P7 today, particularly because it was a difficult qualifying. Conditions were very tricky: you see drops of rain on the visor, and that takes some confidence away even when the asphalt is completely dry. So you have to trust what the car is doing, and commit to the corner even though your mind is saying something different.

“Yesterday, we weren’t completely happy with the balance of the car and with the performance, but today the car stepped up and we were more competitive.

“P6 is a fantastic starting position for scoring points, but we know that Hamilton and Ricciardo will come back very strongly tomorrow. I’ll try to defend as much as I can even though tomorrow we expect a very sunny day and completely dry conditions, so it’s not going to be easy to hold on to our position.

“A little bit of rain is always welcome for us. We seem to be more competitive in damp conditions, but being in the top 10 tomorrow is our goal. Saturday has been great, let’s see what Sunday brings."

STOFFEL VANDOORNE

#SV2 MCL32-04
Q1 1:10.286s (13th) Option tyre
Q2 1:10.116s (13th - will start 12th due to a 10-place PU penalty for RIC) Option tyre

“I’m not 100 per cent satisfied with today – it was a bit of a strange session for us. My qualifying started well and I had good rhythm straight away in Q1. I had decent pace and I was going quicker with each run. In Q2, I had some difficulties getting the tyres to work and I’m not sure why that is. With the final set of tyres on my last run we didn’t really manage to improve, and we need to delve into the data later to see if we can work out why.

“It’s been very difficult to predict the weather this weekend. It’s always a bit better for us when the weather is mixed-up, so we’ll have to wait and see what the conditions are like tomorrow. We’re starting 12th so let’s see what’s possible.

“If I reflect back on Friday, our long-run performance looked quite strong, so hopefully we can take those positives into the race. We know it’s always difficult for us to overtake, but from where we’re starting there’s always a chance for points. If we can get a good start and drive the perfect race maybe it will be possible.”

THE MANAGEMENT

ERIC BOULLIER

“Fernando’s qualifying effort was genuinely brilliant today. He has looked fantastically committed all weekend, and has been really flinging his car around this track with incredible passion and dedication. His seventh position (sixth on the grid) was a genuine reflection of the car’s pace; he’s been in the top 10 all weekend, and, once he’d dialled out the understeer that had been affecting the balance, was able to demonstrate all our potential this afternoon. 

“Starting from sixth, and mindful of the promising pace we showed yesterday in our race simulation runs, we think he’s set for a good showing tomorrow.

“Stoffel has been stoically soldiering on despite suffering from overnight food poisoning. That’s understandably taken its toll on him, but he still drove well. Without a perfectly balanced car, it can be tricky to get a perfect lap around here, and Stoffel felt he didn’t quite manage to find that sweet-spot today.  

“Nevertheless, he too feels the potential in the car and will be pushing like crazy tomorrow.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA

“As today’s temperature went down compared to yesterday, we needed to adjust our settings in the final practice session in order to be best prepared for qualifying this afternoon. 

“Fernando has been looking competitive all day, and had a strong run to take P7 in qualifying. Once race penalties have been applied, he will start the race from P6. His performance was brilliant today.

“It is Stoffel’s first race weekend at this technical circuit, and therefore it is quite a tricky challenge. I think P13 is a good result considering this.

“We had a smooth day with our PU today and I feel our competitiveness has improved as a team in the last couple of races. I am looking forward to the race tomorrow and hopefully we can continue this good momentum.”

2017 BRAZILIAN GRAND PRIX – RACE

“A FANTASTIC DISPLAY OF CONTROLLED, HARD DRIVING”

Fernando Alonso drove his heart out in a race-long pursuit of Felipe Massa, ending his Brazilian Grand Prix in a hugely impressive eighth position.

Starting from sixth, Fernando was overtaken by the Brazilian on lap six. He settled down in hot pursuit of the Williams driver, and only lost positions to the faster cars of Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo before he reached the chequer.

After making his sole stop of the race on lap 28, Fernando really put the hammer down to close a 2.8s gap to Felipe. For the remaining 41 laps, he pushed relentlessly, closing the gap down to 0.4s by the chequer. While his bid was ultimately unsuccessful, it was supremely spectacular.

Stoffel’s race lasted only until Turn Two. Kevin Magnussen clattered into him, breaking his left-front track-rod and front wing, forcing him to retire immediately.

FERNANDO ALONSO

#FA14 MCL32-05
Started 6th
Finished 8th
Fastest lap 1:13.451s (lap 57) 10th
Pit stops One - lap 28 (2.56s) Option > Prime

“Overall, it’s been a happy Brazilian GP for us. We started sixth, at the first corner we were up to fifth, and then we finished in the points – one of our best weekends.

“I had a fantastic car throughout the whole race, but, ultimately, I just could not overtake. We didn’t have enough speed on the straights. I was very, very close to Felipe a couple of times at the exit of the corners, and I thought ‘now is the time I can pass him,’ but even though I was using the DRS, he was pulling away.

“He was very consistent and made zero mistakes. Also, being the last lap of Felipe’s last-ever F1 race in Brazil, I wasn’t sure how hard he would defend! I didn’t have a chance to overtake him, anyway. And I had to defend from Perez behind, so I was happy when I saw the chequered flag.”

STOFFEL VANDOORNE

#SV2 MCL32-04
Started 12th
Finished DNF

“Definitely not the race I wanted to have. I actually had a really good launch off the grid, then had a good fight with Ocon and Grosjean and nearly got past them – we almost had an accident there when everyone bunched up.

“Then, in Turn Two, I got sandwiched by Magnussen and Ricciardo. There was nowhere to go. An unfortunate end to my race. From my perspective, there was nowhere I could have gone to avoid the incident.

“I definitely think today was a missed opportunity to score points. Our race pace looked really promising on Friday, and I felt that, with the track conditions being so hot today and after making a strong start, we had a good chance to finish in the points. A shame.”

THE MANAGEMENT

ERIC BOULLIER

“Fernando’s performance was a timely reminder of just what a competitive animal he remains. When he was given the green-light from the strategists to attack Massa, he was utterly relentless, driving each lap as if it were a qualifying lap, and narrowing the gap on a lap-by-lap basis.

“Even if pulling off an overtake might have been tricky, given the limitations of our package, that did nothing to deter him, and I’m sure he could have made it happen given a handful more laps. It was a fantastic display of controlled, hard driving, a fantastic spectacle to watch, and, I’m sure, terrific fun in the cockpit. Bravo, Fernando.

“Stoffel was incredibly unlucky. He’d made a great start, was making progress, then got side-swiped by Kevin Magnussen at the exit of Turn Two. It was a pointless collision, and Stoffel was entirely the victim. Still, he’d enjoyed a solid weekend until that moment, and will hit back in the final race in Abu Dhabi in a fortnight’s time.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA

“It was a good race for us today, with Fernando having some exciting on-track battles against his rivals.

“Fernando, who started the race from P6, managed his tyres well, even in the high temperatures, and maintained a consistent pace throughout the afternoon. Although it was disappointing that he was unable to overtake Massa and move further up the field, it was a great performance and he collected more points for the team.

“On the flipside, Stoffel had a very disappointing race and was unable to make it to the end of lap one, through no fault of his own. Up until then, he’d had a solid weekend.

“Overall, it was an okay weekend for us, with our package showing decent speed during each session and two more points collected as a reward for everyone’s hard work.

“We have only one more race to go for this season as McLaren Honda, so we’ll try our maximum to extract all the potential from our package.”