Just one week on from the United States Grand Prix, Formula One travels south to Sao Paulo as the battle for the drivers championship rolls into Brazil.
The Brazilian Grand Prix has decided six of the last nine drivers championships, including Lewis Hamilton’s victory in the 2008 drivers championship, and this years race comes just seven days after the USGP were Lewis Hamilton extended his championship lead to 24 points. Now all Lewis has to do is finish in second place behind Nico Rosberg in both of the remaining races and the 2014 drivers championship is his.
With a potential 75 points still to play for, the championship cannot be decided in Brazil this year. But Lewis has the possibility of extending his lead to 49 points depending on where Nico finishes. It should also be mentioned, if it was not for the double points in Abu Dhabi, Lewis would have the chance to clinch the championship this weekend as a point swing of 2 points in Hamilton’s favour would have seen Lewis crowned the champion. On the other hand, Rosberg can regain the championship lead by a single point if Lewis does not see the chequered flag and Nico wins in Brazil.
The Brazilian Grand Prix has been on the Formula One calendar since 1973 but over that time the race has been held at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace circuit in Sao Paulo as well as the Jacarepaguá circuit in Rio de Janeiro.
The race was first held at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace but after just five years the race was moved to the Jacarepaguá circuit for a year after drivers complained about the track conditions in Sao Paulo. In that time, they installed new and upgraded facilities but the race would only stay in Sao Paulo until 1980. From there on, the race was permanently held in Rio de Janeiro.
However after Ayrton Senna’s success in the 1980’s. Sao Paulo city officials revamped the Autodrom Jose Carlos and in 1990 the race returned to Sao Paulo, where it has been held since. In the revamp, the Autodrom Jose Carlos Pace was shortened in length from 8km to the current 4.3km.
Now the 4.3 kilometre circuit encompasses most of the original challenging corners, but without the long straights that made up the first sector. In order to link up the track, the current circuit begins with the Senna S. A lovely downhill double corner that flows the cars into high speed turn three before the first DRS straight, Reta Oposta.
The start of the Senna S will also work as one of the best overtaking areas of the track come Sunday as drivers break hard at the end of the DRS aided pit straight. For this corner you can either send your car down the inside and run your opponent out of track or, if you have the momentum, send your car around the outside of turn 1 and hold for the inside line through turn 2.
Moving on to the Reta Oposta straight, drivers are handed another chance to gain positions as DRS will either allow them to breeze ahead or close up and challenge under breaking at turn 4.
As the middle sector winds on, drivers rapidly gain speed as they approach the tighter turns of the lap. First up on the run down between turns 5 and 6, an un-DRS aided straight provides drivers the first chance to regain any lost positions or continue their charge. As the speed declines as quickly as it was picked up, the cars have to wind their way through the corners as the elevation shifts from high to low.
Come the start of the final sector, the track opens back up as the high speeds return. Now drivers face a long climb back up the hill to round of the lap. But as the speeds increase, the chance to gain positions increase and as drivers make their way around the top of the hill, the DRS will kick in and can send a driver flying ahead.
But come Sunday, will it be a Silver Arrow flying ahead or can someone upset their rhythm? For me, I cannot see past another victory for Mercedes with the win most likely falling to Hamilton. After the performance Lewis showed in Austin, it was clear he could carry the pace in the race even with qualifying not going his way. But for Rosberg, he kept a bit in his pocket for qualifying but come the race was unable to keep Lewis at bay over the race. Also, with double points in Abu Dhabi, a win is not 100% necessary for Nico but the 25 points and the confidence that go with a win can give him Rosberg a much needed boost.
For the ‘best of the rest’ I would imagine Williams will be able to show greater pace around the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in practice and qualifying. But come Sunday, I feel Red Bull will be challenging Bottas and Massa for the podium spot. Unless Ferrari and McLaren can cause a surprise with their set-ups I can only see the two battling it out at the lower end of the point scoring positions with the Force India’s, Toro Rosso’s and after their display in Austin, maybe even the Lotus’.
If you intend to watch the race weekend live on TV in England, it is available on SkySportsF1. With highlights on both SkySportsF1 and the BBC later in the day.
Wednesday 5th November
21:00 – Classic F1 – 2003 Brazilian GP
Thursday 6th November
13:00 – Drivers’ Press Conference – Live
21:00 – Classic F1 – 2007 Brazilian GP
Friday 7th November
08:45 – Gear Up for Brazil.
09:00 – Classic F1 – 2008 Brazilian GP
11:45 – Brazilian GP Practice One – Live
15:45 – Brazilian GP Practice Two – Live
18:00 – Team Principals’ Press Conference – Live
20:00 – The F1 Show – Live
Saturday 8th November
12:45 – Brazilian GP Practice Three – Live
15:00 – Brazilian GP Qualifying – Live
21:30 – Ted’s Qualifying Notebook
Sunday 9th November
14:30 – 2014 Brazilian GP – Track Parade – Live
15:00 – 2014 Brazilian GP – Race – Live
18:30 – 2014 Brazilian GP – Paddock Live
21:15 – 2014 Brazilian GP – Highlights
10:15 – Ted’s Race Notebook
As for the BBC’s scheduled coverage for the weekend:
Saturday 8th November
21:00 – Brazilian GP Qualifying – Highlights – BBC2
Sunday 9th November
20:30 – 2014 Brazilian GP – Highlights – BBC1