Start, Interlagos, 2014

Track record could fall at Interlagos this weekend

2015 Brazilian Grand Prix preview

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Record-breaking lap times could be seen at Interlagos during this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

Rubens Barrichello set the all-time record for the Jose Carlos Pace circuit in 2004, when F1 cars had V10 engines and the benefit of tyre war rubber. His Ferrari lapped the 4.3-kilometre course in 1’09.822.

Last year Nico Rosberg’s pole position time was a whisker over two-tenths of a second slower at 1’10.023. And with faster cars and the same tyre allocation as last year, Barrichello’s 11-year-old record may finally be beaten.

The chart below compares the fastest lap time seen at each Brazilian Grand Prix weekend since the last significant alteration to the circuit in 2000.

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Rosberg kept Lewis Hamilton from pole position by just three-hundredths of a second at this track last year and went on to inflict a vital defeat on his team mate as the pair were scrapping for the championship. Twelve months later there’s only pride at stake, but with Rosberg having taken the last four pole positions in a row and Hamilton anxious to finally cross Interlagos off the very short list of F1 tracks he hasn’t won at yet, we may get a suitably spicy encounter between the two.

Track data: Interlagos

Lap length4.309km (2.677 miles)
Grand prix distance305.909km (190.083 miles)
Lap record (in a race)1’11.473 (Juan Pablo Montoya, 2004)
Fastest lap (any session)1’09.822 (Rubens Barrichello, 2004, qualifying one)
Tyre compoundsMedium and Soft
2014 Rate the Race7.22 out of 10
2014 Driver of the WeekendNico Rosberg

*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix

Interlagos track data in full

Nor should the opposition be too far behind – this being one of F1’s shortest and simplest tracks, expect Williams and Ferrari to be within striking distance if either of the silver cars slips up in qualifying.

Last year Pirelli revised their original tyre allocation and brought softer rubber, only for a new surface and high race day temperatures to lead drivers to discard their soft tyres within a few laps due to graining.

“The changes to the asphalt at Interlagos last year altered the pattern of tyre behaviour,” explained motorsport director Paul Hembery, “so it will be interesting to see how that affects tyre usage this year.”

“Traditionally, Interlagos is quite a high-energy circuit for tyres, so we would expect to see two or three pit stops for the majority of competitors.”

Aside from the resurfacing, which also helped slash lap times, the track remains unchanged. However the paddock has been renovated, to the relief of some. “I’m looking forward to seeing how the paddock has changed,” said Daniil Kvyat. “It was the smallest of the year and kind of difficult for teams to work in.”

However, as Kvyat notes, another vital part of the Interlagos experience is likely to remain. “Whatever they have done I don’t think it will change the atmosphere,” he continued. “It’s always amazing, with the fans so close to the track. They really have a big passion for Formula One and the feeling is always good on the grid there – even though it’s a bit crazy.”

Brazilian Grand Prix team-by-team preview

Mercedes

As well as having beaten Hamilton for the last four Saturdays running, Rosberg has also out-qualified him on their two previous visits to Interlagos as team mates. Mexico showed that even with both titles decided Mercedes remain wary over tyre life and prefer to keep their drivers on similar strategies, so whichever of them qualifies ahead will have a significant advantage.

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo is expected to give the new Renault engine its debut this weekend but will have to take a grid penalty. It comes as it looks increasingly likely the team will continue to use the French power units next year despite having lambasted them all year long.

Williams

Despite picking up a penalty during his home race for the second year running, Felipe Massa made it onto the Interlagos podium 12 months ago and has a good chance of doing so again at a track where the Williams should be competitive. “The passion from the fans is amazing,” he said. “The emotion they have and how close they are to me as a driver, it’s really an amazing feeling to race at home. The experience is difficult to explain.”

Ferrari

Kimi Raikkonen had one of the better races of his Ferrari comeback at this track 12 months ago, keeping then-team mate Fernando Alonso within range and revelling in the grippier surface which allowed him to be more “aggressive”. However he and current team mate Sebastian Vettel need to make amends after a poor race for the team in Mexico.

McLaren

Alonso’s lap one retirement in Mexico was the latest in a series of “frustrating” races for the McLaren drivers. He’s braced for another difficult weekend: “We knew Mexico would be tough, and many of Interlagos’ characteristics are similar, with its steep sections and long straights.”

Force India

Force India are drawing ever closer to their highest-ever finishing position in the constructors’ championship. “If we score well in Brazil, we can clinch fifth place in the championship and that’s the priority,” said the team’s owner Vijay Mallya. “I’m confident we can do it and getting both cars home in the points would be a great way to celebrate our best season ever.”

Toro Rosso

With two races to go in his remarkable debut season, Max Verstappen is holding on to a place in the championship top ten with just three points over Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg, making this a battle to keep an eye on.

Lotus

Grosjean denied Pastor Maldonado a point in Mexico after being concerned about his team mate’s driving at the start. “I wasn’t happy with how he got past me,” said Grosjean, “so I was determined to keep him behind me at the end of the race.”

Sauber

There will be two home drivers in action this weekend as Felipe Nasr gets to race in front of his fellow Brazilians. “Last year I drove in FP1 for Williams, which was a nice feeling,” he said. “But racing in Formula One in front of my home crowd is a dream I have always had. Considering our motorsport history, it is not only a pleasure and honour, but also a moment to remember.”

Manor

Alexander Rossi will make his final F1 start this weekend before returning to GP2 duty in Abu Dhabi and handing the car back to Roberto Merhi. Although he’s only out-qualified Will Stevens once, he’s finished ahead three times and another strong showing can only help his chances of staying on board for next year.

2015 driver form

DriverGrid averageRace averageRace bestRace worstClassifiedForm guide
Lewis Hamilton1.531.691616/17Form guide
Nico Rosberg2.183.3111716/17Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo7.658.2721515/17Form guide
Daniil Kvyat9.947.3621314/16Form guide
Felipe Massa7.357.1331715/17Form guide
Valtteri Bottas6.356.4731415/17Form guide
Sebastian Vettel4.883.3111216/17Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen7.945.002812/17Form guide
Fernando Alonso15.3811.335189/16Form guide
Jenson Button16.1812.0071611/16Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg10.359.1861511/17Form guide
Sergio Perez10.598.5631316/17Form guide
Max Verstappen11.539.3841713/17Form guide
Carlos Sainz Jnr12.6510.0061311/17Form guide
Romain Grosjean9.598.6431311/17Form guide
Pastor Maldonado11.599.897159/17Form guide
Marcus Ericsson13.8811.6481414/17Form guide
Felipe Nasr13.5911.0052015/16Form guide
Will Stevens17.8115.85131913/15Form guide
Roberto Merhi18.0815.18121811/12Form guide
Kevin Magnussen17.000/0Form guide
Alexander Rossi18.0014.7512184/4Form guide

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Sergio Perez, Force India, Interlagos, 2014
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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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37 comments on “Track record could fall at Interlagos this weekend”

  1. Rosberg hasn’t beaten Hamilton the last four Saturdays. Because Austin quali was on Sunday.

      1. @scalextric And I’ve just realised what you meant. Apologies.

    1. @scalextric I think that should have had a Pedant Alert tag on it :)

      However, it could still be valid… I can’t remember what happened on FP3 in Austin. Did they run, and did Rosberg beat Hamilton in that session?

      1. @drmouse, Hamilton was fastest, Rosberg spun.

      2. OK, never mind, just looked it up and Hamilton topped the time sheets in FP3 at Austin.

        So, @keithcollantine should be informed :)

  2. I really hope Rosberg wins the next two races, just for the sake of next year’s championship. Hopefully Hamilton, Vettel and Rosberg can remake 2007 (in whatever order) in 2016. Now that would be interesting. And for god’s sake Renault, let us see Kvyat and Ricciardo fighting at the front!

  3. If Williams are going to be able to compete for a win anywhere, it is here. They have the right powerunit,a car that is slippery in a straight line and they also seem to be making progress on their low speed handling issues. I really do hope they can get a result this weekend. That said, Mercedes are probably still going to be way to strong.

    1. They’re still a power unit spec behind Mercedes though so realistically still behind.

  4. Raikkonen’s worst race position is 8!!!! Only HAM is better at 6..

    1. I find it more interesting ROS and VET have the same race average

    2. Raikkonen has plenty of non classified results, latest when he retired after colliding with Bottas. For instance Vettels worse position if one discounts Belgium tyre blow-out and Mexicos crash is 5. In fact missing out podium just 5 times (2 5th place and one 4th and 2 previously counted incidents) is realistically maximum anyone can take with 2 silver arrows domination.

  5. Has this happened? A V10 lap record beat by the current engine formula, or even by the V8s?

    1. @chrischrill Keith seems to have forgotten to mention the main reason for this, they completely resurfaced the track before last years event. It was much smoother with regards to bumps but more importantly, much grippier than the old surface.

      1. Still, no problem… Last years surface, lap record would fall. More power more grip… Only tires are worse than 2004…

      2. @weeniebeenie have you honestly not noticed any other change in F1 over 10 years except the tarmac? Smaller, quieter, more efficient, energy recapturing high-tech turbo engines. Improved aero efficiency, suspension, mechanical grip, tyres without grooves and DRS. Better developed brakes, cooling, fuels and lubrication. Better data capture and analytics and improved knowledge on set-up. But yeah, it’s all down to the new track surface.

        1. @jerseyf1 Right, that’s why all of those other 2004 records are tumbling is it? It was talked about a lot before the event last year that the new, smoother track surface would contribute to faster laps. Discounting wet/damp years, here are the quali times since 2004.

          2004 – 1:10.646
          2005 – 1:11.988
          2006 – 1:10.680
          2007 – 1:11.931
          2008 – 1:12.368
          2011 – 1:11.918
          2012- 1:12.458
          2014 – 1:10.023

          I can’t find it right now but I’m sure @keithcollantine posted an article at some point showing the differences from 2014 to 2013, as far as I remember they were universally slower than 2013 with Brasil and I think USA being exceptions. The track resurfacing had a huge impact on performance at this track.

          1. And also the turbos work better at higher altitudes.

        2. Well, but on the other side lets not forget that the minimum weights of the cars are significantly higher now.

  6. Sorry, but I have no idea of where to post this. Probably most of you guys didn´t follow a long interview that Massa gave to a Brazilian blog this week, in which he provide interesting details of the problems at Williams with the pit stops.
    At first, Massa was saying that it is not a problem due to human mistakes. When the reporters insisted, he told an interesting story. According to him, the team realized early in the season that they were facing a problem, clocking way more than 3,5 seconds for a wheel swap. Then, one day the team went to do some filming for a sponsor in which they needed to push the car a few meters and stop to do a wheel swap, and they were clocking 2,1 or 2,3 seconds. The engineers quickly noticed this and decided to investigate the issue. After many weeks of analysis they reached the conclusion that there is a design flaw in the wheel nut. They discovered that the problem is not attaching the nut back to the car but removing it from the car, maybe because of bad design in the heat dissipation system. Massa said that Williams took two simultaneous paths since then: a) the cars are running with a “bit less” of pressure on the nuts, just enough to keep the cars safe [this, he said, improved the situation somehow, but without consistency], and b) started studies to redesign the whole piece, trying new alloys. He didn’t said it, but suggested that the process would also need to take into consideration the design used for the wheelgun.
    As a side note, Massa said that when he made the decision to leave Ferrari he started conversations with two teams, Williams and Lotus, but decided for Williams because at the end of 2013 season “every engineer” was saying at the pitlane the Mercedes was several steps ahead with the new engine development.
    Finally, he said that winning the GP in Interlagos en 2008 was the pinnacle of his career. “It was like a dream”, he said.
    Again, sorry for posting this here. Keith, feel free to move to the proper place.

    1. But why where the filming pit stop quicker? Do the wheelnut overheat during a race to the point where it takes one extra second to get it off?
      I feel like they would have noticed this during their numerous pit stop practises they make every week in the same way they did at that filming. It just doesnt take 1sec extra to gett off a wheelnut from an F1 car without anyone notecing. Something doesnt add up.

      1. Aren’t the pit-stop practices normally done after the car’s done a considerable amount of running?

        1. @raceprouk It depends on teams and situation ofc. but they do alot of pitstop practice by just rolling the car around by hand in the garage out of running sessions.

          1. they do alot of pitstop practice by just rolling the car around by hand in the garage

            This is what I thought. I don´t understand why then they didn´t realize the issue before, but there you go…

      2. Do the wheelnut overheat during a race to the point where it takes one extra second to get it off

        According to Massa, Williams engineers reached precisely that conclusion.
        I wish you could understand Portuguese. Here is the interview, the issue comes up at 48:40 minutes.

    2. “Massa said that when he made the decision to leave Ferrari”

      Lol.. did he say that?

  7. One of my favorite tracks and almost always a good race. Will be rooting for FI this weekend. No one deserves to finish top of the midfield more than them. Great drivers, using their budget the smartest relative to size and overall a great little(comparably) team, with quite a few people left still from Team Jordan days

  8. Semi interesting stat (maybe) – Positions gained in race from grid position in races so far 2015 season.
    Taken from above graph and rounded to the nearest tenth and put in order of most positions gained during race.
    disclaimer – When starting at the front drivers can only lose positions, not gain. Starting at the rear positions can be gained simply through attrition more often than when starting in higher grid spots. (Just a couple of things to take into consideration.)

    Driver – Grid average – Race average – Positions +/-

    Jenson Button 16.2 12.0 +4.2

    Fernando Alonso 15.4 11.3 +4.1

    Alexander Rossi 18.0 14.8 +3.2

    Kimi Raikkonen 7.9 5.0 +2.9

    Roberto Merhi 18.1 15.2 +2.9

    Carlos Sainz Jnr 12.7 10.0 +2.7

    Felipe Nasr 13.6 11.0 +2.6

    Daniil Kvyat 9.9 7.4 +2.5

    Marcus Ericsson 13.9 11.6 +2.3

    Max Verstappen 11.5 9.4 +2.1

    Sergio Perez 10.6 8.6 +2.0

    Will Stevens 17.8 15.9 +1.9

    Pastor Maldonado 11.6 9.9 +1.7

    Sebastian Vettel 4.9 3.3 +1.6

    Nico Hulkenberg 10.4 9.2 +1.2

    Romain Grosjean 9.6 8.6 +1.0

    Felipe Massa 7.4 7.1 +0.3

    Valtteri Bottas 6.4 6.5 -0.1

    Lewis Hamilton 1.5 1.7 -0.2

    Daniel Ricciardo 7.7 8.3 – 0.6

    1. Ooops, forgot Rosberg, bringing up the last spot for this stat:

      Nico Rosberg 2.2 3.3 -1.1

      1. Cool data … However I don’t know how to interpret something useful from that though.

        Something that Jenson Button may be happy about from this season ?! :D

  9. Re: lap records

    Mercedes came very close to beating the lap record at Austria this year. The fastest time of the weekend was Hamilton’s pole lap of 1:08.455

    The all-time record was Schumacher’s 1:07.908 from Q1 in 2003.

    Looking at my own figures, I predict next season the all-time lap records will be broken at Austria, Brazil (again!), Singapore, Sochi, COTA, Mexico, and Abu Dhabi.

    Also, I wouldn’t rule out the Abu Dhabi record falling this year, but it’s unlikely (requires a 2 second improvement on the 2014 time, to match the 2011 record).

    @chrischrill @keithcollantine

  10. sure talk about laptimes to try claw back the quality that F1 once had. ignore the real important factors: complicated and costly engines breaking down instead of allowing drivers to push, tyres artificially degrading to force pitstops/undercuts instead of allowing drivers to push and race wheel to wheel over several laps, DRS for fake overtaking during long straights, and lower noses to launch cars up in the air instead of allowing better airflow to keep the car good around wide bends (which is where we really want to see overtaking done). It is ironic that by trying to make the sport more “future proof” the rulemakers of F1 just seem more and more old fashioned silly.

  11. I think a 2004 f1 v10 car could do the resurfaced track in about 1:04. The hybrid might beat the record, but we all still know f1 is a lot slower then it usef to be

    1. No it can’t. A V10 normally aspirated car from 2004 is faster than current cars on sea level(the gaps are diminishing by the way so next year I’m not so sure even at sea level). But in places like Mexico and Brazil? No way it’s too short of breath

    2. I think a lighter car with a bigger, more powerful, less fuel efficient engine and more downforce could go faster round a track. I also think that rain is wet.

      There’s some bold statements right there.

      The regulations didn’t shrink the engine capacity to make the cars faster, they were brought in to develop better high-tech engines and to that end have probably brought forward powertrain technology more in the last four years than the previous decade.

  12. Not by a long shot. The pole time was only 1:11.282.

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