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Stephen Vilardo’s F1 São Paulo Grand Prix Preview

The Brazilian Grand Prix at the track best known as “Interlagos” tends to produce fun races

Posted on November 11, 2022

  By Stephen Vilardo, SWS | Dane Miller, Series Editor

Editor’s Note: After an underwhelming race in Mexico City, Formula One heads to South America for what promises to be a more entertaining event.

The São Paulo Grand Prix at the track best known as “Interlagos” tends to produce fun races. With a short lap and elevation changes, drivers generally race in close proximity to each other to produce tight battles.

Our Stephen Vilardo previews the race below, including a complete television schedule of events, some quick facts and speed points, and a table of recent winners.

Be sure to check out That American F1 Show’s podcast for Vilardo’s winner and podium predictions.

São Paulo Grand Prix Preview
Television Schedule
Free Practice 1: Friday, November 11, 7:30 am PT, ESPN2
Qualifying: Friday, November 11, 11:00 am PT, ESPN2
Free Practice 2: Saturday, November 12, 7:30 am PT, ESPN News
Sprint Qualifying: Saturday, November 12, 11:30 am PT, ESPN News
Grand Prix: Sunday, November 13, 10:00 am PT, ABC

São Paulo Grand Prix Quick Facts
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
Track: Autódromo José Carlos Pace (more commonly known as Interlagos)
Track Type: Permanent Circuit
Turns: 15
Lap Length2.677 miles
Race Length: 71 laps
Fastest Lap: 1:10.540 in 2018 by Valtteri Bottas in a Mercedes
Qualifying Record: 1:07.281 in 2018 by Lewis Hamilton in a Mercedes
Most wins by Constructor 12 (McLaren)
Most wins by a Driver: 6 (Alain Prost)
Tire Allocations: C4 (red), C3 (yellow), C2 (white)
As Formula 1 reaches its homestretch with just two races remaining, the schedule takes the teams to Interlagos for the São Paulo Grand Prix.

The Interlagos circuit made its calendar debut in 1973. Except for the 2020 season, the race has been a fixture on the schedule since 1990. The long history makes it the eighth-most visited venue in the sport.

The circuit is one of the shortest of the season, but also one of the most demanding. Drivers see some of the hottest and most humid temperatures of the year, along with quick demanding turns.

A lap in São Paulo is short and intense.

The non-stop succession of corners keeps the tires working hard, particularly the front-right.

While not as extreme as Mexico, elevation changes at Interlagos can have an effect on the aerodynamic packages.

Normally, teams run high downforce—which equates to more drag on the car—requiring strong mechanical grip from the Pirelli tires.

Arriving at the perfect setup can be tricky.

Lewis Hamilton won the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos in 2021. |

Teams need to balance a desire for high levels of downforce in the tight and twisting infield section against the need to minimize drag on the straight between Turns Three and Four, along with the long sweep from Turn 12 to Turn One.

Weather can oftentimes be an equalizer.

Heavy rains are expected throughout Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Grooves have been cut in the asphalt to help drainage in the event of heavy rain.

But regardless of the weather conditions, the short lap means that traffic can be an issue and there’s a high safety car probability.

With such a high chance of a safety car, the race strategists in both the Sprint Qualifying and the Grand Prix must be on their toes.

Speaking of the Sprint Qualifying, this is the third and final sprint weekend of the season. If you’re new to Formula 1, the Sprint Qualifying is a way to determine the starting grid for the formal race on Sunday.

It’s a quick 24-lap “sprint” with the finishing order determining where each driver starts for the Sunday Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen leads Valtteri Bottas in 2021 | Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Even without the sprint race, Interlagos is a difficult track.

Tellingly, Lewis Hamilton has found less success in São Paulo than on other circuits.  Arguably the greatest driver in Formula 1 history, Hamilton has just six podium finishes in 14 career starts at Brazil.

The Brit did manage to pick up his third win in 2021, however.

In fact, Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton are the only multiple winners of the Brazilian GP still currently competing in F1. Vettel also has three wins at the track to his credit.

At such a challenging circuit with rain expected, the racing promises to be intense.

And broadcast on ABC during the middle of the day, the event should be head-and-shoulders above the Mexican Grand Prix from two weeks ago.

Speed Points

• Pole doesn’t always equate to victory at Interlagos. In 38 races, the pole sitter has triumphed just 15 times, a ratio of 39.5%—one of the lowest of any circuit on the current calendar.

• Since 2000, only eight winners have come from the pole. But six of the last eight have started from P1.

• In 2019, Carlos Sainz Jr. started 20th on the grid and finished third for his first career podium.

• Should Sebastian Vettel lead for 11 laps, unlikely as it may be, he would pass Michael Schumacher’s record for most laps led at Interlagos (236).

• Seven laps led for either Carlos Sainz or Charles Leclerc will give Ferrari the record for the most laps led by a constructor at Interlagos, currently held by McLaren.

Recent Winners of the Brazilian Grand Prix

2021Lewis HamiltonMercedesInterlagos
2019Max VerstappenRed BullInterlagos
2018Lewis HamiltonMercedesInterlagos
2017Sebastian VettelFerrariInterlagos
2016Lewis HamiltonMercedesInterlagos
2015Nico RosbergMercedesInterlagos

—More from Stephen Vilardo—