Guide to the Interlagos Grand Prix Circuit

Introduction  |  Circuit details  |  Transportation  |  Accommodation  |  Results

The Brazilian Grand Prix, which is hosted at the Interlagos racing circuit, derives its name from Portuguese, meaning ‘between the lakes’. That is because the circuit was built in the late 1930s in a natural bowl, which had two small lakes in it.

interlagos-circuit-aerial

This lay-out of the circuit means that it boasts one of the best views for spectators, with over 50 percent of the track visible from the grandstands. The official name of the circuit is Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, in memory of the Brazilian driver, who in 1975 won the only Grand Prix win of his brief career at Interlagos – he was killed in a plane crash in 1977.

Interlagos is one of the shortest F1 Grand Prix circuit in the season line-up and is one of the slowest, many comparing it to MagnyCours circuit in France. However, this was not always the case. Prior to the 1990s, the circuit was one of the longest F1 tracks, but after some modernisations and upgrades, the circuit length was shortened from 7.874km to 4.325km (4.893mi to 2.687 mi).

In 1997, further modifications to the track reduced the lap distance to its current 4.309 km (2.667mi). The new modifications added the Senna S-curve, a native of Sao Paolo. The Brazilian Grand Prix is run on 71 laps, with a total distance of 305.909km (190.067 mi). In 2007, significant upgrades and repairs were made to the track, especially the surface. The current length of the circuit is 4.309 km (2.676 mi).

Among drivers and teams, Interlagos is known as one of the bumpiest and most difficult circuits on the F1 World Championship calendar. One major issue is the heat and humidity in Brazil, which alone can be crippling to the driver, in terms of dehydration and simple fatigue. This, coupled with the anti-clockwise direction, means that the majority of corners are left-handers – another handicap. Most drivers are used to racing and testing on clockwise circuits, which means that their bodies are not used to the significant G-force on their left-side, which can lead to cramping and muscle fatigue.

Interlagos also has many changes in elevation and numerous challenging corners. There are only two passing opportunities on the circuit, one at Senna’s S at the end of the pit straight and at the Descida do Lago, at the end of the RetaOposta (back straight). The track is not only demanding for drivers, but also on the cars. The bumpy surface makes great demands on the suspension and the many challenging corners test gearboxes and transmissions.

The natural lay-out of the Interlagos circuit provides spectators with excellent views. In fact 50 percent of the circuit can be seen from the grandstands, which have a capacity of 65,000. However, many die-hard fans recommend seating near the Senna-S, to witness the most action. Grandstad G has space reserved for people with disabilities.

In 2011, the circuit came under heavy criticism, with two fatal crashes – Paulo Kunze and Gustavo Sondermann. This has prompted changes at the circuit’s run-off area and pit area.

Introduction  |  Circuit details  |  Transportation  |  Accommodation  |  Results