Updated: Feb 28
Written by Bruna Brito, Edited by Harshi Vashee
The best race of the year is yet to happen! We can’t deny how many iconic moments the Interlagos Track has given. As a Brazilian myself, I’d like to introduce you all to my hometown race with the best, funny and very unknown situations that have happened here.
Let’s start with some basic information for the nerds:
The Interlagos Track is actually named Autódromo José Carlos Pace, in honour of the Brazilian Formula 1 driver who raced in the 70s.
The track layout took inspiration from Brooklands in the UK, Roosevelt Raceway in the USA and Montlhery in France.
The Grand Prix started on 12th November, with a length of 4.309km, Valtteri Bottas holds the fastest lap record with a 1:10.540 in 2018.
The first Brazilian Grand Prix took place in 1973, the winner was Emerson Fittipaldi in his Lotus.
The Brazil Grand Prix was held in Rio de Janeiro during most of the 1980s more specifically in Jacarepaguá, adding a total of 10 out of 47 editions so far.
In the 2021 calendar, Interlagos is the fourth oldest circuit. Behind Monza (1922), Spa-Francorchamps (1922) and Monaco (1929). If you consider it as an Autodromo, it is the second oldest, Monza being the oldest, as Spa only became a permanent circuit in the 80s.
Michael Schumacher is, to date, the driver with the most laps led at Interlagos, with 236. If Sebastian Vettel, at 233, leads 4 laps on Sunday, he can break that record. Interestingly, Seb already led 4 laps this season in Baku.
It won’t happen in 2021, but Interlagos has already decided the world champion 6 times:
2005 – Fernando Alonso
2006 – Fernando Alonso (2x)
2007 – Kimi Räikkönen
2008 – Lewis Hamilton
2009 – Jenson Button
2012 – Sebastian Vettel (2x)
Ferrari is the team with the most victories at Interlagos racking up 9 wins! Schumacher (2000/02) and Massa (2006/08) have two each. The last was from Vettel, in 2017. Kimi Räikönnen won in 2007 and with it became champion. Their first was won by Niki Lauda in 1976!
Now some iconic moments from the Brazilian track!
In 1996, Michael Schumacher adopted a dog who was lost in Interlagos, named her Floh (flea in German) and took her to Switzerland, where he lived. She even appears in some scenes of the Netflix documentary.
In 2003, following a multi car pileup, Kimi Räikkönen was awarded the win. However, it was found that there had been a timing error and in fact Jordan’s Giancarlo Fisichella had won the race. As a result of this, Kimi handed the winning trophy to the Jordan driver at the following event in Imola in front of the worlds press.
In 2012, Kimi Räikkönen left the track at Junção and attempted to re-join through the old circuit, but he had no way back. He had to return leading to the funny scene of Kimi’s Lotus spinning 180 degrees to get back onto the track.
At the 2002 Brazilian GP, a very serious accident almost took place. The medical car went to provide care to Bernoldi (Arrows). When Alex Dias Ribeiro opened the medical car door, Nick Heidfeld (Sauber) ended up losing control and crashed into it.
In 2001, Juan Pablo Montoya was heading for his first victory but when he went to overtake Jos Verstappen, a lapped car, the pair collided – much as how Jos’ son lost out on a win in 2018
In qualifying for the 2015 Brazilian GP, a meme emerged: Fernando Alonso, after another abandonment from the problematic Honda engine, simply reclined into a chair for Q1 to end.
At the 2012 Brazilian GP, Sebastian Vettel became the last driver to overtake Michael Schumacher, who was retiring after a return to the sport.
The 2009 Brazilian GP was intense, Jarno Trulli punched Adrian Sutil after their crash.
In the 2003 Brazilian GP, Rubens Barrichello took the lead on lap 44, the victory of the Brazilian driver seemed to be close but the possibility disappeared after 3 laps, when Rubens stopped due to a tyre problem.
In 2002, the King, Pelé left the Schumacher brothers “in a ghost” by not waving the checkered flag at the end of the Brazilian Grand Prix after being distracted by someone calling up him at the wrong time.
This year, The São Paulo Formula 1 GP will close with a performance by the Brazilian gymnast, Rebeca Andrade. She is the 2020 Olympic vault champion, 2020 Olympic all- around silver medalist and 2021 World vault champion.
” I left my body and came back when I received the invitation. It’s a sign of respect, a tribute to my victories. Never think that there are so many opportunities. I’ve always struggled a lot to put myself as a woman and for the black community and to use the power that sport has given me well. I’m very happy”, commented the athlete.
Finally, Lewis Hamilton’s helmet for the 2021 race is inspired by the design of his great idol, three-time champion, Ayrton Senna. The helmet is designed by Raí Caldato, a Brazilian designer.