F1/Round 20: 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix

Race starts at 3:10 pm in Brazil/1:10 am in Malaysia (Monday)

The 2018 Formula 1 World Championship is coming to the end of the season and this weekend, the second last round is the Brazilian Grand Prix, held at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, more commonly referred to as Interlagos. This is the 46th time Brazil has hosted a round of the championship and Interlagos has been the circuit used for 36 times.

Lewis Hamilton, already confirmed as the 2018 World Champion, grabbed pole position to start the race, beating Sebastian Vettel by less than a second during qualifying. However, the Ferrari driver’s angry and rough behaviour at the weighbridge during a random check by FIA officials resulted in him getting a reprimand and a fine of 25,000 euros.

While Hamilton’s and Vettel’s overall positions in the championship have been confirmed, third place remains open and the battle is between Kimi Raikkonen (236 points), Valtteri Bottas (227) and Max Verstappen (216).

In the Constructors’ Championship, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas team has 585 points, leading Ferrari by 55 points, with a potential 86 points still available. Ferrari therefore needs to outscore the German team by 13 points to take the battle on to Abu Dhabi.

The race this weekend will be on a short, tight circuit that is 4.3 kms long. It’s an old circuit, having been opened in 1940 and has undergone many changes over the decades, During the 71 laps, the drivers will be racing across a hillside with dips and loops in the track, with many elevation changes and sections where one corner flows immediately into the next.

It is one of the most ‘handed’ circuits, with only 3 right-handers and all the other corners going left. In the past, when an anti-clockwise circuit was a novelty, this was tough on drivers; in the modern era, it is more likely to cause mechanical problems, with fuel, oil and water potentially pooling away from their pumps.

Lewis Hamilton likes it though, saying that ‘it’s a fantastic circuit, they generally don’t make circuits like this anymore – it’s quite hilly, quite short, very technical and overall very challenging’.

Lewis Hamilton’s 82nd pole position of his career is also the 100th pole position for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport team.

The frequency of medium-speed corners puts a lot of lateral energy into the tyres. Wear rates, particularly at the rear of the car, tend to be high. With this in mind, the teams have to choose from the medium, soft and supersoft compounds available. This selection was last used in Japan and is the hardest offering used in the second half of the season.

Efforts will be made to protect the rear tyres — though the steps they take to combat high rates of wear can create problems with front-locking — something exacerbated by the undulating nature of the circuit.

Alain Prost has won the Brazilian GP the most times (6) while the McLaren team has had the most wins (12) although not all were at the Interlagos circuit. There have been some years when the title has been confirmed at this round and four drivers have been confirmed world champions at Interlagos – Raikkonen (2007), Hamilton (2008), Vettel (2012), Fernando Alonso (2005, 2006) and Jenson Button (2009).

[Chips Yap]