Brazilian Grand Prix Preview: Sao Paulo, November 12-15
Brazil is one of the shortest but most intense laps of the year, with the circuit running in an anti-clockwise direction, which is quite unusual in Formula One.
The P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft compound have been nominated for this year’s Brazilian Grand Prix: the most popular combination of the season, which has been selected for the ninth and final time in 2015.
There is plenty of work for both the tires and the drivers – as the Interlagos track requires a high degree of physical effort – and the situation is often made more complex by variable weather conditions. Last year, the hottest track temperatures recorded all season were in Brazil, but the race has also been affected by heavy rain in the past. If it remains dry, Interlagos is ideal territory for the versatile medium and soft slick compounds.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “Interlagos is one of those historic venues that has helped to shape the history of Formula One, so it’s a pleasure to come here and experience once more the unique atmosphere and passion from the local fans, at the end of what is our first American triple header in Formula One, with races in the United States, Mexico and now Brazil. South America and Brazil in particular is one of Pirelli’s biggest global markets, so this is a particularly important race for us, as we are so widely represented here. The changes to the asphalt at Interlagos last year altered the pattern of tire behavior, so it will be interesting to see how that affects tire usage this year. Traditionally, Interlagos is quite a high-energy circuit for tires, so we would expect to see two or three pit stops for the majority of competitors. As always though, we will only have an accurate picture of the real situation after the opening free practice sessions on Friday.”
The biggest challenges for the tires: The re-asphalting of the circuit last year changed the abrasion levels of the surface, and it is also possible that there will be some additional patches of new asphalt again this year. Other improvements to the circuit this year include a new pit complex.
The circuit is rear-limited, with the right-rear tire being the most stressed due to the anti-clockwise layout – which is also the case at the next and final venue on the calendar, in Abu Dhabi. Tires are often subjected to combined forces at Interlagos: in other words lateral and longitudinal demands at the same time. This raises the temperature of the compound. Downforce levels are generally high, with aerodynamic and mechanical grip requirements roughly in equal proportion.
Expected performance gap between the two compounds: 0.9 seconds per lap.
Last year’s strategy and how the race was won: There was heatwave last year, so this was not entirely typical of what we would expect to see this time. In 2014, Nico Rosberg won the race for Mercedes using a three-stop strategy. He started on the soft tire and then changed to the medium on laps seven, 26 and 50. The highest-placed two-stopper, Kimi Raikkonen, finished seventh.