The last F1 season finale at Interlagos

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Fernando Alonso won the 2005 world championship at Interlagos
Fernando Alonso won the 2005 world championship at Interlagos

This will be the fourth season that the F1 season has ended in Interlagos – and may be the last time it does so for the foreseeable future.

In 2009 the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the new Yas Island circuit will round off the season. Whether by fair means or foul, it has landed perhaps the most coveted slot on the calendar.

It promises to be an extraordinary event but it will have to be if it is going to eclipse the spectacle of Interlagos.

The way I see it, Yas Island may struggle to match the two best things about Interlagos: the quality of the circuit, and the enthusiasm of the fans.

Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace circuit map

Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace circuit map - click to enlarge
Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace circuit map - click to enlarge

Hermann Tilke didn’t design the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace – though it is said the first corner was the inspiration for his turns one and two at Istanbul.

The long, uphill blast from Juncao to the first first corner – S do Senna – makes this part of the track an ideal place for overtaking. But then the track opens up onto another lengthy straight and a second substantial braking zone at Subida do Lago, giving drivers passes at the first turn a chance to fight back.

From there the circuit builds to its infield rhythm: Ferradura, Laranja, Pinheirinho and Cotovelo. The drivers tackle curved braking zones, off-camber entries and tricky gradients. It flows like a piece of real road should – sweeping across the terrain, not bulldozing it into geometrically perfect angels.

Mergulho is fast, downhill and bumpy – then drivers have to nail their braking point for Juncao knowing that if they don’t they’ll pay for it on the long drag back to the start/finish line.

As a circuit, you can’t really fault Interlagos. Nor could you ask much more from the fans – Brazilian are among the most passionate followers of F1 and have given the sport a string of multiple champions: Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna.

Interlagos and Yas Island

There are, of course, many problems with Sao Paulo as an F1 venue: the facilities are, I am told, at sub-Silverstone levels of disrepair. A few years ago advertising hoardings fell on the track during qualifying. And the teams have often found themselves a target for criminals.

That will not be a problem at Yas Island. But though the new circuit may be manicured to perfection, how can F1’s new season finale destination have the same feverish appeal of Brazil?

Yas Island will be an attraction all of its own, but with seating for just 50,000, in a country with little motor racing heritage, don’t expect the same kind of passion you get at Interlagos.

More about the 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Yas Island, Abu Dhabi circuit map

Yas Island F1 circuit, 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (click to enlarge)
Yas Island F1 circuit, 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (click to enlarge)

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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25 comments on “The last F1 season finale at Interlagos”

  1. First post (unless someone beats me to it!!)…

    Makes me wonder, why don’t some of these wealthy countries that want to host GP’s build replicas of some of the sport’s legendary tracks that are no longer on the calender…

  2. why is Yas Island designed as a gun?

  3. because bullets are fast?

  4. @Philip

    I hope the cars go fast on the track; and not away from the track like the bullets do.

    It is spooky that the track resembles a gun.

  5. The Spa layout resembles a hot glue gun, and Monza looks like a water pistol. Maybe it’s a common theme!

    I want to see a track designed replicating the best corners from around the world all in one track. Imagine a circuit that had Eau Rouge, the Parabolica, Maggots & Beckets, Interlagos’s Start-Finish straight, Spoon curve, ‘Turn 8’, and the Corkscrew all in one.

  6. Does this track start anticlockwise and finish clockwise.
    How many other circuits do we have which have the same combination.
    Or are the circuits designed this way only. :)

    1. yeah it does as well. it has around 9 left and 9 right hand turns…

  7. Terry Fabulous
    26th October 2008, 2:00

    It flows like a piece of real road should – sweeping across the terrain, not bulldozing it into geometrically perfect angels.

    Wonderfully put Keith. What a track.

    I remember hearing Rugby player Wendall Sailor talking about the rubbish change rooms and general facilities at one of our Football grounds. My reaction at the time was, umm get over it mate, aren’t you paid to put up with that crap?

    Why is it in our sport that the corporate facilities and garages, something that 99% of F1 fans never go to, can see the shrines of our religion consigned to the back lots?

    Re: the race at Abu Dhabi
    I’m sure that some good sport like Piquet Jnr will toss it in the wall at a convenient time to shake up the race.

  8. I know this post doesnt fit here, but abu dhabi track looks like a mclaren type of ciruit… :D

  9. Thanks Terry! I liked the way Lewis Hamilton put it when talking about Spa earlier this year: “you feel like you’re going somewhere”…

  10. ajokay

    That’s something I’ve always wanted too.

    If they’re going to build a new track then why not add a few corners modelled on other much loved corners from other tracks ?
    Especially if they’re no longer on the calender.

    I’d like to add the original bus-stop from Spa and the Carousel from the old Nurburgring to the list of great corners that you’ve mentioned.

    The one criteria I’d have as an essential element of any new track would have to be a change of gradient around the track, it’s no coincidence that some of the greatest tracks of all time, Spa, Laguna Seca & Interlagos to name just three, all have changes in gradient around the track.

  11. Sadly, beneboy, I think the Karussel would be miles outside the restrictions on gradient and camber on F1 circuits – more here: Don’t blame Hermann Tilke, blame the rules

  12. Please bring the last race back to Suzuka – 15 out of the last 10 f1 season-ending classics somehow always took place over there.

  13. I still find Adelaide the ideal season-end race.

  14. Lets have a little fun with F1 paranoia….

    So….Max Mosley, president of FIA, the F1 governing body, has long had links with senior executives at a certain Italian F1 racing team. He also has some very strong supporters in recent personal crises of the powerful leaders of certain middle eastern nations, where the excess of oil wealth tends to produce an excellent market place for the sales of supercars, and that’s the kind of market our Italian team needs to develop.

    So it’s not really a surprise that the same Italian team carries the very prominent logo of a particular middle eastern airline on it’s F1 race cars.
    And that we now learn that a brand new, untirely untried motor racing circuit is to be established
    in the desert territory of the same middle eastern nation and that it’s new slot will replace a very popular race in South America as the last race of the season.

    Now isn’t that an interesting set-up ?

  15. Sad but true Keith.

    It’s a shame the FIA don’t use some of the safety budget looking at effective fencing for the outside of cambered corners, if Americans can safely run cars at over 200 m.p.h. on banked ovals for 500 miles then there’s no reason F1 can’t have one or two corners, like the carousel, on the calender.

    Even relatively small motor sports like Speedway have been bringing out new air-barriers & catch fences to stop riders & bikes flying into the fans if they have big accidents in the corners, all the FIA seem to do is move the fans further away.

    Hardly improves the experience or atmosphere at the races.

    Obviously speeds at F1 are much higher, but then again, so are the budgets involved.

  16. Yeah i completely agree Beneboy. And keith, i’m sure the current injection of sterile tracks is more the fault of the rules than Tilke’s fault, but i’ve always felt it would be interesting to throw in a few different track designers to see whether they can come up with a circuit with a bit more character than the current ‘Tilkedromes’ on the calendar.

    As for the Abu Dhabi circuit, i’m actually optomistic about it, it looks more exciting than some of his other creations, however, i was optomistic about Valencia and we all know how that turned out.

  17. Well MattMan & Keith, it looks like we’ve got a three way agreement (a rare thing indeed) that the modern tracks aren’t very interesting but it’s the fault of the FIA, not the designer.

    I saw an interview with Tilke on Motors TV last year where he talked about the design briefs he’s given by the track owners.
    At the end of the interview he was asked what would be his dream circuit design. He said he wanted to build a track in the mountains, possibly the Alps, that has cars going around a mixture of tight & sweeping bends with lots of gradient.

    Sounds a whole lot better than Valencia.

    Still, at least some of the new tracks help us appreciate the great ones, like Interlagos, a lot more.

    I don’t see the harm in letting a few other designers have a go at designing new tracks either, maybe Max & Bernie are shareholders in Tilke’s design company…

  18. Maybe there’s an idea for a winter article.

    “Where would your ultimate F1 track be, and what would it look like?”

    Commentors could use the google maps + quikmaps site to draw the outlines

  19. ha, good idea ajokay!

    Yeah i see what you mean beneboy, i like tilkes idea of his dream track. It would be interesting to see what would happen if the regulations on track design were opened up a bit.

    In fact does anyone know why the regs are so tight on track design? I;m sure it’s because of safety, but surely they could be loosened up a bit, so tilke can have some scope for innovation?

  20. I think the season finale should be held at any other track than Abu Dhabi tbh. No matter how exciting the race, or the championship, the fact remains that it is going to be played out at a largely empty circuit in the middle of nowhere. What trackside atmosphere !
    But hey, at least Bernie will be cosy in his airconditioned corporate facilities.

    Having said all that though, why then am I considering going to Abu Dhabi next year……

  21. For those talking about building a circuit out of the best bits of old circuits, there was an article in F1 Racing mag sometime ago (2-3 years maybe) about the very same thing. Tilke and his boys put together a CG map of the place. It was something like 15 miles long – partly down to the fact that to get most of the corners right you have to have the correct entry and exit (both speed and angle) otherwise it totally changes the nature of the corner – imagine 130R followed by the Corkscrew, it wouldn’t work, so you couldn’t just whack in 15 best corners.

    There was also the small matter of cost. You could never find a suitable piece of land to build the track as nowhere in the World would have the right gradients in one place to build all the best corners – e.g Eau Rouge and the Corkscrew. So you’d have to fund a huge amount of landscaping. Which also had to be considered in the track layout. I guess it was something like putting together a Scalextric track without instructions, but with 10x the number of variables!

    I can’t remember what they estimated the cost at, but it was something like $8bn.

  22. hi there,

    interesting comparison. being from the middle east, and married to a Brazilian, i can tell you that i have a frist hand experience on both criteria.

    Interlagos, the name itself is a mouthful, a legendary circuit that has bred some of the most charismatic champions in the sport. not to mention that the fans are mental.

    as for the YAs Island abu dhabi F1 circuit, who came up with that name? it’s goign to be like most of dubai and abu dhabi, completely fake. it will be manicured to epic perfection, it will offer more than all the other circuits combined in terms of show appeal to the sponsprs and high rollers, but for the fans in the stadiums, i doubt you will find crazed fans screaming and shouting their lungs off like a mexican football match. they will be sitting there, with freshly purchased flags, witnessing the race as if they were watching it on a stratospherically large screen, which they could possibly afford. all of them will be knowledgeble, but i doubt they will be very vocal and expressive in their enthusiasm.

    i for one might be there , and i’m really looking forward to it, but i really doubt the YIC will make it into the hall of fame. but surely it will be a spectacle.

  23. Maybe there’s an idea for a winter article.

    “Where would your ultimate F1 track be, and what would it look like?”

    Commentors could use the google maps + quikmaps site to draw the outlines

    Sounds like a great idea…

  24. I can see Bernie wanting to have the circuit that will be his pride and joy in the most visable spot on the schedule, but the disappointing thing is that the atmosphere will be nowhere near the same as it would be at Interlagos. F1, for the sake of everyone involved, should have the season finale at a track where the fans are loud and passionate, and one that produces good racing. Interlagos and Suzuka both fit the bill, but sadly none are set to host the season finale in the near future.

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