Written by Marcus Woodhouse, Edited by Sasha Macmillen
Formula 1 is back for the final double header of the year, in a season full of intriguing storylines and enthralling races, with the Brazilian Grand Prix looking very likely to continue this trend. A gem at the end of every F1 season, the Autódromo José Carlos Pace provides the perfect formula for great racing, with plenty of overtaking opportunities complemented by the challenging nature of the circuit for the drivers. Of course, this is also the final sprint race of the year, so prepare for altered timings, and an extra opportunity for the drivers to strut their stuff ahead of what is building up to be a thrilling 2023 season.
Initially named the Autodrómo de Interlagos, this brilliant circuit was opened back in 1940, before being renamed to honour the Brazilian F1 driver José Carlos Pace who sadly lost his life in a plane crash. The undulation of the cars as they navigate the frequent elevation changes makes the drivers’ jobs that bit harder, compounded with the anti-clockwise nature of the circuit. The unpredictability of the weather has always thrown up drama as well, while the iconic Senna S as well as Junção provide opportunities for drivers to maximise their lap time in comparison to others.
Over the years, the circuit has played host to innumerable memorable races, such as its inaugural F1 race in 1973, triumphantly won by home hero Emerson Fittipaldi. Ayrton Senna became the third Brazilian to win his home race in 1991 (after Carlos Pace), leading to a well-known radio message, expressing his utter joy and delight at his victory without words. Three wildly chaotic title deciders played out here as well; in 2007, 2008, and 2012, as Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, and Sebastian Vettel respectively secured their titles in dramatic fashion. Max Verstappen showed his class at a young age in 2016, during a ridiculously wet and challenging race, while 2019 also saw a brilliant duel between future title rivals Verstappen and Hamilton.
Last year, we were privileged enough to witness a Lewis Hamilton masterclass, as he recovered from disqualification in qualifying to go from last to first, with the help of the sprint race on Saturday. Armed with a rocket ship of a car, he ruthlessly dispatched the midfield before catching up to Verstappen on Lap 48, although the eventual overtake was by no means easy. The Dutchman gave everything to stay ahead, even controversially pushing his rival off the track, but Hamilton made it through on Lap 59 and went on to take victory in front of the adoring Brazilian fans.
Last time out, Red Bull claimed the Constructors’ title in Mexico, as Verstappen broke the record for most wins in a Formula One season, and Sergio Perez made it onto the podium to delight the home crowd. The two Mercedes cars of Hamilton and George Russell made it difficult for the Austrian manufacturers, but their tyres just seemed impervious to the degradation affecting others and the gap between them never narrowed. At one stage, it was looking like a brilliant finale was heading our way, but the race seemed to trickle out somewhat. In any case, it still highlighted how much Mercedes have closed the gap to the top team and they will be hoping to go one better this weekend.
So, with Verstappen looking to extend his record, Hamilton looking to celebrate his newly received honorary Brazilian citizenship, and Mercedes still holding out hopes of catching up to Ferrari in the Constructors’, we can only hope to see a thrilling rematch of last year’s Grand Prix. Elsewhere, the battle between Alpine and McLaren for P4 is nearing its conclusion and both teams will be looking to secure a solid result before the season finale in Abu Dhabi next weekend. Moreover, there are only four points between Alfa Romeo and Aston Martin in the fight for sixth, while only a solitary point separates Haas and AlphaTauri as both teams vye for eighth in the standings. All in all, the Brazilian Grand Prix is virtually unmissable, so enjoy watching it unfold.