It may be one of the shortest tracks on the Formula One calendar, but the 4.3km Autódromo José Carlos Pace presents a number of challenges to teams.
It combines a long sweeping start/finish straight with a tricky infield section, so choosing the right setup compromise is paramount. The high altitude (800m) leaves the power units feeling breathless, whilst the bumps and undulations keep the drivers on their toes. The Brazilian crowd always gives their countrymen a raucous reception, especially Felipe, who will be chasing a sixth podium at his home race, and the penultimate grand prix of his Formula One career.
For Brazil, Pirelli have made available the hard, medium and soft tyres.
We are expecting very poor weather in the lead up to the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend with a chance of showers on both Saturday and Sunday. We are hoping it will be dry, however we could see a situation similar to 2013 when the first real dry running we had was on race day. Interestingly, Pirelli have gone one step harder than last year, as opposed to going a step softer as normally happens, so we have the hard, medium and soft compounds available; the first time we’ve had that combination since 2013. Generally, we expect a two-stop race irrespective of tyre choice. In qualifying the lap time is very low, probably approaching 70 seconds this year, and so this leads to a very close grid where hundredths of a second really count. As a circuit it is quite sensitive to mechanical grip, more so even than downforce, although good aerodynamic performance counts in the middle sector. Whilst straight-line speed is important for overtaking, the preferred pass into turn one comes largely from getting a good exit from turn twelve.
First of all, I think this is going to be such a cool race for Felipe as he is retiring and it’s going to be his last home race. I hope we can do well there and that he enjoys the weekend. Last year we did a good race and picked up some decent points. Brazilian fans are also always really passionate about Formula One. There is a nice combination of different types of corners on the track and it’s quite technical. The new tarmac that was laid there a couple of years ago has made it very grippy since, so I really enjoy racing at this track.
Interlagos is home. It’s the place that I grew up. It will be emotional racing there for the final time on such an amazing track. I’m looking forward to enjoying every single lap and hopefully I can manage to finish the race with a good result. I have won twice at Interlagos and have finished on the podium many times over the years and I hope we can get another one. It won’t be easy, but I will do everything I can for my people and for Brazil in my last race at home.