Brazilian Grand Prix: McLaren previews Interlagos
21 November, 2012
Nov.21 (McLaren) Brazil hasn’t had a world champion since Ayrton Senna won his third world title for McLaren in 1991, but the country’s passion for Formula oNE continues unabated. The Brazilian Grand Prix remains one of the highlights of the F1 season and the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in Interlagos one of its gems.
The 2.6-mile track is one of the oldest circuits in F1, having hosted its first world championship grand prix in 1973. It’s been altered and made safer since that first race, but it retains much of its original character. It’s bumpy, undulating and narrow, and it’s one of five anti-clockwise circuits on the 2012 calendar.
The track is located 875 metres above sea level, making it the highest venue on the F1 calendar. The altitude affects the performance of the cars by reducing the power from the engines by about 7 percent. That places an even greater emphasis on handling and aerodynamic-efficiency, both of which are strengths of the MP4-27.
Neither Lewis nor Jenson has won the Brazilian Grand Prix, but both men clinched their world titles at Interlagos in 2008 and ’09 respectively. After Lewis’s emphatic victory in the United States last weekend, the team goes to the season finale hoping to end 2012 on a high.
Car 3: Jenson Button:
“I’ve had some great experiences racing in Brazil – I won the world championship here in 2009, of course, but I can also remember having strong races here, especially in 2006 when I finished on the podium. I think we showed in Austin that we have an incredibly quick car, particularly in race-trim, and I’d love to have a clean weekend, a trouble-free qualifying and then have a good run at scoring some strong points on Sunday. Traditionally, it’s not been a circuit where we’ve been at our strongest, but I think this year’s car has often been strong at tracks where we wouldn’t normally have been up there, so I think we have a chance to go for the win. Of course, Brazil will be the backdrop for the championship showdown – and it’s a great track upon which to end the season on a high. I’m not putting my money on anybody, but I hope we have a fantastic contest and may the best man win.”
Car 4: Lewis Hamilton:
“Brazil has been the scene of some epic races for me during my time at Vodafone McLaren Merecedes and, for many reasons, this weekend will be a very big race for me. I nearly won the title here in 2007, clinched it on the final turn in ’08 and drove like crazy to finish on the podium in ’09. But I’ve never won: and that’s what I’ll be aiming to do this time around. As [this will be my] my final race behind the wheel of a McLaren, I vow to the whole team that I’ll give it my all on every single lap. My win in Austin last week was one of the races of my life, and I’d love to take victory in Brazil this weekend to give the team the perfect farewell present. Finally, a word on the championship; it’s a very finely poised battle, and neither Sebastian nor Fernando can afford to relax for a moment. They are both fantastic drivers, and both have driven superbly all season. Now, we’ll see who takes the final honours – I hope it’s an epic contest.”
Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes:
“This weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix will bring the curtain down on another fascinating and exciting world championship. Additionally, it’ll be Lewis’s final race for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes – the end of a long, and successful, chapter in the team’s history. I think our win in Austin last weekend has buoyed the team after a couple of disappointing races, and has shown that, in terms of raw speed, the MP4-27 wants for nothing. That’s an encouraging message to be sending home to our engineers and designers for the winter, and also a positive for our drivers, who know that they’ll likely be equipped with race-winning machinery for the Interlagos weekend. The F1 World Championship couldn’t ask for a more epic backdrop to the title decider than the sweeps and valleys of Interlagos. There’s little to choose between the performances of Sebastian and Fernando this season, and all I hope for is a fair and true contest on Sunday.”
McLaren has won more races in Brazil than any other F1 constructor. Here’s how the team has defined 11 days in the history of the race.
January 27 1974, Interlagos
Emerson Fittipaldi starts from pole position, but he drops to third when Carlos Reutemann and Ronnie Peterson jump ahead at the start. Emmo grabs P2 on lap four when Reutemann makes a mistake and he takes the lead by out-foxing Peterson when they’re lapping Arturo Merzario. Emmo cruises to victory, winning his second start for McLaren by 13 s.
March 25 1984, Jacarepagua
Alain Prost wins on his debut for McLaren, but it isn’t an easy victory. He qualifies fourth and is slow away from the grid. He battles through the order to lie second to team-mate Niki Lauda on lap 24 and when Lauda retires with an electrical problem he takes the lead. Derek Warwick passes him briefly during the pitstops, but Alain re-takes the lead when Warwick crashes out. Job done.
April 07 1985, Jacarepagua
A tenacious drive by Alain sees him win the season-opener from sixth on the grid. His chances are helped when Nigel Mansell crashes at Turn 1, but Prost is mighty all afternoon and fully deserves the win. He takes the lead on lap 19 and is never headed. He backs off towards the end of the race to win by 3 s from Michele Alboreto.
April 12 1987, Jacarepagua
After qualifying fifth, Alain takes the lead when Ayrton Senna pits with handling issues. The Frenchman’s two-stop tyre strategy wins him the race because his main rivals are forced to make three stops in the blistering heat. New team-mate Stefan Johansson finishes third, giving McLaren a near perfect start to the 1987 season.
April 03 1988, Jacarepagua
Ayrton qualifies on pole for his McLaren debut, but he starts the race from the pitlane after his MP4/4 jams in first gear on the parade lap. That leaves Alain to romp to an easy victory, coming home 10 s ahead of Gerhard Berger. Ayrton charges through the field, but he’s disqualified for using the spare car.
March 24 1991, Interlagos
Ayrton’s first victory in Brazil. He starts from pole position, but he has it far from easy. Nigel Mansell stays close until he’s delayed by a puncture and Senna’s gearbox plays up towards the end of the race. He completes the last seven laps stuck in sixth gear! Gerhard Berger completes a good day for McLaren, coming home third in the second MP4/6.
March 28 1993, Interlagos
McLaren’s 100th victory and Ayrton’s second win at home. He qualifies third and runs third early on, until he can hold back the Williams-Renault of Damon Hill no more. Ayrton is later given a 10 s stop-go penalty for passing under yellow flags, but he then takes full advantage of a rain shower to lead soon after half distance. A classic, giant-killing performance.
March 29 1998, Interlagos
An utterly dominant display by McLaren-Mercedes drivers Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard. They qualify 1-2 and finish 1-2, David just 1 s behind his team-mate in the second MP4-13. Michael Schumacher finishes third, exactly one minute adrift.
April 11 1999, Interlagos
An all-McLaren-Mercedes front row ends in a dominant victory for Mika. He’s never headed and comes home 5 s ahead of Michael Schumacher. Mechanical problems for David in the sister MP4-14 end McLaren’s chances of scoring a 1-2.
April 01 2001, Interlagos
A superb victory for David. He starts fifth on the grid, but battles his way to the front with typical tenacity. When rain starts to fall in the middle of the race he times his pitstop for intermediate tyres to perfection and passes Michael Schumacher for the lead with 23 laps remaining. He comes home 16s clear of the German.
September 25 2005, Interlagos
A fine McLaren-Mercedes 1-2 finish, Juan Pablo Montoya coming home 2.5 s clear of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. The battle between them is decided during the early laps, when Juan Pablo leads and Kimi gets stuck behind Fernando Alonso. By the time Kimi passes Fernando, Juan Pablo is seven seconds clear and he manages the gap for the remainder of the race.
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