Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Interlagos, 2019

Qualifying slipstream could prove decisive at Interlagos

2019 Brazilian Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

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The top three cars were separated by less than a tenth of a second on the grid two weeks ago, and the Brazilian Grand Prix may prove just as close this weekend.

While Ferrari claimed the top two place in practice on Friday, their rivals were well within range around the company Interlagos layout.

Max Verstappen, who has great form on this circuit, led the charge. However Red Bull tend not to gain as much pace from Friday to Saturday as their rivals.

Mercedes were similarly close, though Lewis Hamilton downplayed their chances of finding the “three tenths” he reckons they need to catch the Ferraris. However Austin pole and race winner Valtteri Bottas was within two-tenths of a second of Friday’s pace-setter Sebastian Vettel.

At several races this year we’ve seen drivers get in each others’ way in Q3 as they vie to gain a slipstream at the start of the lap. The punishing uphill climb to turn one at Interlagos, and the long back straight after turn three, may mean drivers try to seek a tow in qualifying. As the lap is so short, the extra time it offers could make a vital difference.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Interlagos, 2019
Higher temperatures may be bad news for Haas
Conditions were wet and cool on Friday but the next two days are expected to be dry and progressively warmer. We are likely to see the track ‘come towards’ some teams and away from others; Kevin Magnussen, who was sixth-quickest for Haas, is anticipating the higher temperatures will prove their undoing.

This will have a bearing on the race as well. Daniel Ricciardo was not impressed by the harder compound after Friday’s running.

“If we had a race today, I wouldn’t try my hard strategy that I’ve tried in Suzuka and Mexico,” he said, joking: “I’m saving tyres, you know, looking after the environment…”

But by Sunday higher temperatures and increased grip from the build-up of rubber may make the hard tyre a viable option.

If qualifying should be exciting at the sharp end, for the drivers in the midfield it will be even more fraught. From 10th to 16th – which in qualifying is the first driver eliminated in Q1 to the last driver into Q3 – was covered by less than two-tenths of a second. Lando Norris, 18th, was little over half a second away from being sixth.

Saturday should therefore serve up one of the closest qualifying sessions of the year.

Longest stint comparison – second practice

This chart shows all the drivers’ lap times (in seconds) during their longest unbroken stint. Very slow laps omitted. Scroll to zoom, drag to pan, right-click to reset:

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Combined practice times

PosDriverCarFP1FP2Total laps
1Sebastian VettelFerrari1’17.0411’09.21743
2Charles LeclercFerrari1’17.2851’09.23848
3Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’09.35136
4Valtteri BottasMercedes1’16.6931’09.37347
5Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’09.44042
6Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’19.2471’10.14348
7Daniel RicciardoRenault1’17.9851’10.19441
8Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’19.5321’10.21051
9Alexander AlbonRed Bull-Honda1’16.1421’10.27540
10Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault1’17.7861’10.31054
11Nico HulkenbergRenault1’17.8991’10.32539
12Pierre GaslyToro Rosso-Honda1’18.1001’10.35243
13Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’19.6001’10.41954
14Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Honda1’18.2741’10.42450
15Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes1’10.44332
16Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’10.50441
17Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes1’19.4141’10.56839
18Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault1’18.5591’10.70056
19George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’18.7791’11.81854
20Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’20.01016

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2019 Brazilian Grand Prix

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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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3 comments on “Qualifying slipstream could prove decisive at Interlagos”

  1. ”and the long back straight after turn three”
    – How is the Reta Oposta-straight between T3 and T4 a ‘long’ straight, LOL? The length is only from the region of 613-617 meters, so it doesn’t classify as ‘long’ straight. The only proper full-throttle section of this circuit is, of course, the one leading to T1. I don’t know why people sometimes call ‘short’ straights long. The same with the T13-T14 straight in Singapore two or three times despite only being 500-something meters long, and the same with the T3-T4 straight in Mexico (also 600-something), but the T3-T4 straight of Interlagos most definitely is a ‘short’ straight. With this circuit only featuring one proper full-throttle section, I doubt there’d be problems as this circuit has a bit too many corners for an attempt to stay close to the car ahead being worth it. The same with the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on which two out of the three timing-sectors are full of corners with only S2 featuring proper-length straights/straight-ish sections.

    1. Can you show me to this official classification of straights you seem to be referring to?

  2. Monza antiques will return and stewards will have convinient shut eye towards donkeys(if they are involved once again).

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