Dodging the showers and the chaos: How to come up with a winning plan for F1 Brazilian Grand Prix
Brazilian Grand Prix 2015
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Nov 2016   |  9:19 am GMT  |  56 comments

Two races to go in the F1 world championship and one senses that if there is to be an upset, a final twist of the tale, it is likely to come at Interlagos, rather than the final round in Abu Dhabi. And the weather forecast from F1 specialists Ubimet suggests that there is a chance of low temperatures and showers on Saturday and Sunday.

Interlagos is tight, twisty, often unexpectedly rainy and usually unpredictable. Think of Lewis Hamilton’s first world title clinched here in 2008; it hinged on the rain falling harder on the last lap when the Toyotas had stayed out on slicks and that gave Hamilton the fifth position he needed to win the title.

It is a race for which you pack several pairs of shoes as it’s not uncommon to get a pair soaked by a downpour.

Brazilian Grand Prix 2013

So how do you dodge the showers and the Safety Cars and come up with a winning strategy?

As with all the races this season, there are three tyre choices from Pirelli but they look quite conservative with last year’s soft and medium options joined by the hard, rather than the supersoft. Pirelli says this is down to the high loadings from some of the fast corners, but the track does not have the peak loads of the other circuits where these three tyres were chosen: Barcelona, Silverstone, Sepang and Suzuka.

Last year we saw some three stop strategies, but closer inspection reveals that Mercedes always planned two stops and only went to three to cover Sebastian Vettel who had done it to shake the tree and try something different. In reality a first stint on softs and then two on mediums was quite enough to cover the 71 laps.

Brazilian Grand Prix 2015

Interlagos has a short pit lane at 387 metres and it’s quite a fast stop; 22 seconds is good and 23 is typical. Last year there was about five seconds difference between a two stop strategy and a three stopper. But the risk with a three is always of a Safety Car which tends to punish the multi-stoppers as it gives a cut price or even a free stop to other cars.

It looks very much as though the temperatures will play their part in the outcome of this race and it’s likely to be another race where the Friday practive running doesn’t give a reliable indication for the race.

On Friday Ubimet predicts temperatures around 23-25 degrees, but then cooler air on Saturday and Sunday with temperatures around 20-22 degrees. As we saw in Japan and Austin this can make all the difference and it is likely to hurt Ferrari more than Red Bull and Mercedes that generate more tyre temperature.

Nico Hulkenberg Brazilian Grand Prix 2010

There is also a chance of showers for qualifying and the race. The track dries quite quickly, as we saw when Nico Hulkenberg won a dramatic pole position for Williams here on a drying track with slick tyres in 2010.

If we have proper rain then that swings the balance towards Red Bull. We haven’t really had a chance to see this in the second half of the season but projecting forward from Silverstone and the relative pace of Verstappen and the Mercedes with the improvements Red Bull has made since then, engineers on both sides feel that Red Bull would have the edge in the rain.

Brazilian Grand Prix in numbers

This weekend’s race in Brazil is the 44th world championship Grand Prix to be held in the South American country, and the Interlagos track will host the event for the 34th time.

In the six Brazilian races that have taken place since 2010, five of them have finished with a 1-2 result for two constructors. Red Bull took back-to-back 1-2s at Interlagos in 2010-2011 and did it again in 2013, while Mercedes’ drivers have finished first and second for the last two seasons.

Brazilian Grand Prix 2012

The Brazilian race weekend has also been hit by wet weather on a number of occasions in recent years. In 2013 only the race took place in dry running, a year after the dramatic rain-affected Grand Prix in 2012. Both Saturdays in 2009 and 2010 featured wet FP3 and qualifying sessions, while the 2008 race was another event made memorable by rain.

Heading into this weekend’s race, Mercedes has now set a new single-season F1 record of 17 victories after Hamilton won last time out in Mexico. This surpasses the team’s existing record of 16 wins in both 2014 and 2015, and it did so in 19 races in 2016, the same number that were held in the previous two years.

Mercedes can also break the single-season record of F1 poles, which it currently jointly holds with Red Bull on 18, if its one of its drivers takes pole at either Interlagos or in Abu Dhabi.

Nico Rosberg

As explained here, Rosberg can become world champion for the first time this weekend. If he were to be successful, he would do so 34 years after his father Keke won his world title 1982. This would make them the second father-and-son F1 champion combination to take the crown after Graham and Damon Hill – with the latter’s 1996 championship victory also coming 34 years after his father’s.

If Rosberg qualifies on the front row it will be his 19th of the year, which would be a new single season F1 record and surpass Vettel and Hamilton, who took 18 in 2011 and 2015 respectively.

Hamilton can break an F1 record of his own at Interlagos. If he wins on Sunday it will be the 24th different circuit that he has taken a Grand Prix win, and he will better Michael Schumacher’s long-standing record of 23 venue wins in the process.

Fernando Alonso

McLaren will make its 800th world championship start this weekend, and in doing so it will become the second constructor in F1 history to reach that figure after Ferrari (which will hit 928 starts this weekend). The British team’s most recent win came at the Interlagos track in 2012, when Jenson Button won the race ahead of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.

Alonso has finished on the podium on eight occasions at Interlagos without ever winning the race, which is a stat he shares with Kimi Raikkonen’s record in Bahrain. But Alonso did secure both of his world titles at Interlagos, the second of which occurred ten years ago in 2006.

At Ferrari, Raikkonen will be making his 250th F1 start this weekend. The 2007 world champion will become the seventh driver to reach that figure, and he will do so at the track where he clinched his world title nine years ago. Kimi Raikkonen 2007

The Finn has also outqualified his teammate Sebastian Vettel for the last three consecutive races and the German driver has now gone 25 races without scoring a front row start. In fact, no Ferrari driver has qualified on the front row so far this season, but the Scuderia has notched up eight third place starts.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo has the longest active points scoring streak – he has finished in the top ten for the last 15 consecutive races – but the Australian driver has only scored one point at Interlagos during his F1 career so far, when he finished tenth for Toro Rosso in the 2013 event.

Force India’s Sergio Perez is also currently on his own notable points scoring record. The Mexican driver has finished in the top ten at each of the last eight races, which is the longest streak of his six-year F1 career to date.

What are you expecting from the 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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I admire your optimism James “Mercedes can also break the single-season record of F1 poles, which it currently jointly holds with Red Bull on 18, if its one of its drivers takes pole at either Interlagos or in Abu Dhabi.”

I doubt there are a lot of people who believe some other car than a silver one will claim the pole spot.


Unless it rains, just ask Hulkenberg…..


80% chance of 2-5mm for Sunday. Hamilton win, Rosberg spin, and the planets re-align.


Your article fails to mention Gilles and Jaques Villeneuve as a combo Father/son WDC!


That would be because Gilles Villeneuve didn’t win the F1 drivers’ world championship.


Not to mention that Gilles was Jaques uncle, not father.


Holy geez, we’re not doing too well here. JV was named after his uncle.


Gilles was Jacques’ Dad. He had a brother also called Jacques.


A snorefest, except for those interested in the MMC or the Williams v Force I challenge for fourth.
Too bad for Ferrari about the cool temperaures.
Nico should continue playing it safe, he should be able to get 2nd-4th with little risk, while Lewis must go for the win, and therefore he will be moshing it up with the Red Bulls and their one irreverant driver, which drives his risk way up.
A 4th for Nico and DNF for Lewis will seal the deal, and is a reasonably likely scenario, albeit, leaving the door open for an actual showdown in Abu Dhabi, if Lewis wins; in a do-or-die showdown, I’ll put my money on Lewis, for sure.
I expect the RBs to be strong under the conditions predicted.


BREXIT, TRUMP & INTERLAGOS RAIN for the main event showdown in Abu Dhabi because Rosberg is not that convincing in the wet and the Red Bulls will make life more than difficult for him.


I believe Hulkenberg will shine in the rain xD
So some Merc driver can finish 5th.
But Nico doesn’t need to win the race.


I’m concerned by the Race Stewards choice for this GP.
Since rain is likely to be a factor, if and when the Virtual or Real SC is deployed can be used to favour this or that driver/team.
And we know Bernie has – very unfairly – decided about his favourite and it has a big weight in the “grey zone” decisions.
Lewis and Max did the same cross cut manouvre in Mexico.
One was publicly humiliated with a punishment – almost in the podium – and the “chosen one” was not.

“If Rosberg qualifies on the front row it will be his 19th of the year…”
Oh yeah! That shows Nico “owns” his car and has extracted the most out of it.
Nico has the best car by a margin, therefore must be in front row all the time.
Very consistent driver.
Nico did his homework.

About the Ferrari slump in form.
This is our Kimi.
Like the Rocky Marciano of F1, Kimi just keeps walking [forward], no matter what.
No complains, no change in mood, no team rant.
Very stable cold and calculist in a – increasingly – Latino type team is an asset.
And it gets even more important when the car is not good.
Kimi is used to the Ferrari environment, bad times are bearable to him.
Just waiting for the good times to snatch another WDC for/with Ferrari.
In that sense Kimi is superior to Alonso.


@Deweberis- The Ferrari is a good car it just lacks that little bit of downforce and ease of balance for each circuit like the Merc/RBR. Also Red Bull as usual are outstanding at finding pace in the second half of each season
Kimi is gelling now with his team & a couple of newcomers and they are finding the sweet spot more regularly- which bodes well for next year if the car is better. They just must fix their strategies which have been really poor.
People can keep doubting Kimi all they like but for him to be finding quali pace ahead of one of F1’s best qualifiers in vettel is outstanding at 37 & suggest he still got it-big time.As usual I keep saying this its about the team and car you have around you- thats really 85-90%. I dont think they have what it takes to be the top team – its no criticism just the others are so good at what they do now.


Indeed, Kimi surprised me this season. Consistent sofar.


I’m just hoping we got whatever result leaves it pretty much all square between Lewis and Nico going into the last race. A ‘winner takes all’ race to the title would be the perfect way to end the season.


Bruce, i would gladly take that!


I predict an engine failure for lewis.


Some Interlagos stats:

Begun racing in 1973 and Interlagos has consistently been home to the Brazilian race since 1990 thanks to Senna’s popularity when the race was moved from the Jacarepague track in Rio

1) Most successful Brazil winners:
Prost 6 wins, Schumi 4 wins,Reutemann 3 wins, Fittipaldi + Piquet + Mansell + Senna + Mika + Montoya + Massa + Webber + Vettel + Rosberg = 2 wins

2) Most successful Interlagos winners: Schumi 4 wins, Fittipaldi + Senna + Mika + Montoya + Massa + Webber + Vettel + Rosberg = 2 wins

3) Most successful teams at Interlagos: Mclaren + Ferrari = 8 wins, Williams + Red Bull = 4 wins, Benetton + Mercedes = 2 wins

4) The back to back winners are Fittipaldi, Schumi, Mika, Montoya and Rosberg.

5) The drivers that have won in different teams at Interlagos are
Fittipaldi, Schumi and Montoya

6) Out of 33 Interlagos races, 13
winners have emerged from pole

7) The only pilots to have won 2 races from pole are Mika, Massa and Rosberg

8) No driver has won Interlagos more than twice with the same team

9) No British driver has won Interlagos more than once i.e. Mansell, Damon, Coulthard and Jenson.


I love this place. It is one of very few places where you feel like you can close your eyes and time trevel. You enter what you have seen so many times. Standing there at first turn and looking down on it you can honestly imagine any car any driver coming down that straight. I’ve seen it with V10s and V8s. I will never go with PUs, obviously.


@ Sebee

Well said

I also like the way the grid is uphill and the straight is curved therefore you have a situation were the cars lineup is a slightly awkward position similar to Monaco


When cars sounded proper, and you could hear them way before you saw them, it just added to the possibility in your imagination. Is it Mika? Schumi? Senna? Vettel? Lewis? Fernando? Prost? Villeneuve? You could imagine the experience until you saw the car hit the braking zone and saw who it was. Seriously, I frikken’ love Interlagos.


If Trump can become POTUS F1 can have V10s back!

#MakeF1Great Again! 🙂


Pretty sure Chase and Donald know each other from going to the same barber shop…it can probably be arranged.


That would be yuge!


Ohh, give it a rest already.
I appreciate most of your posts but this V10 mantra of yours is starting to make me regret this site hasn’t got an ignore user function.
Thanks for the other posts, though.


Give the man some empathy, there are many of us that pine for the engines, motors of yesteryear. The PU just has not filled the vacuum left by a screaming V12, V10 or even the lacklustre V8. With the new world order thrust upon us we all live in hope of better things to come.


On a USA theme, Mini Mag is joining Haas F1 for 2017. Didn’t see that one coming!


In deed, tracks such as Spa, Silverstone Nürburgring have always been uneventful races as it tends to rain and with Interlagos being surrounded by lakes, rain is usually on the horizon

Recalling 2008 for instance, it was a none exciting race for most of the time as Lewis was in P4 and looking good to secure the title however, the slight rain meant Toyota decided to gamble by staying out on drys

As for what I expect from 2016 Brazil race is a good title battle between Rosberg and Lewis that goes down to the last lap without any mechanical issues


Golden rule for success in Brazil: be on the correct tyres at the correct time depending on track conditions. Simples.

It never ceases to amaze me how so many drivers and strategists can things so wrong in mixed conditions. For example, if on a drizzling, humid track intermediates are 5 seconds a lap quicker than slicks……….why stay out on slicks? The 20 odd seconds you lose on a pit stop will be recovered by the superior lap time performance within just 4 laps!


Gazboy, but what if the track dries out in two laps?


You seem to forget the position you return after the pitstop. If you get a lot of traffic your speed advantage is much less.


When you get hired by an F1 team as a strategist, can I have your autograph?


Lewis needs rain. Without it both mercs have to much of a pace advantage not to finish in podium, which won’t be enough for Lewis.

All Lewis fans will be doing rain dance for a wet Brazilian GP weekend.


I’m hoping for rain! From what I’ve seen Rosberg isn’t very good in the wet. If Lewis wins this race and Nico doesn’t finish 2nd or 3rd the last race in Abu Dhabi is going to be very int eresting! 😎

Lewis's mate's mate

If it rains it will bring the Red Bulls into play and frankly Silverstone was a struggle for the Mercs. I think this would be a nightmare scenario for Rosberg and trouble for Lewis.
LH needs it dry on race day, Rosberg will go conservative as he has shown recently then the pressure will get to him and I forsee him making errors.
If he can convert he will (reluctantly typed…) be a mildly deserving but lucky World Champion.
After Brexit and Trump we should not be too surprised if the second best driver at Mercedes wins the WDC in 2016.


Lewis doesn’t need a dry race! He’s pretty good in the wet! Rosberg is the one that needs it desperately. I haven’t been impressed with Rosberg’s wet weather driving!


My thoughts exactly.

“After Brexit and Trump we should not be too surprised if the second best driver at Mercedes wins the WDC in 2016.”

Nicely said and unfortunately so true :).


Yes – 2016 is definitely the year of the “WTF???”


All the predictions are going out of the window now.
brace for the Brazil GP downpour.
Unfortunately I will be in on Autobahn 2 at the race time, so only timing screens.


If you take a subscription for the F1 website you have access to the BBC audio feed whilst travelling.


Or he can click the BBC F1 website and click on the live radio broadcast for free on an ipad .


Really looking forward to seeing ,hopefully, the two Mercedes-Benz drivers race. In my mind I haven’t seen it since they collided in Barcelona! Poor starts and unreliability seems to have put a dampener on this title. Not fussed who wins but it seems to me that it would be nice to see one Mercedes overtake the other on track! More so for Rosberg. Congratulations to the winner of the WDC but really hoping for a big 2017. Come on Interlargos do not dissapoint.


You forgot about Austria?? Definitely there’s been less this year than any of the two previous seasons. Wish there was some database I could query, to get the number of laps where the two Mercedes have run within 3 seconds of each other, for the last 3 seasons. I would bet that it’s waaaay down this year.


I’ve been religiously googling “Interlagos weather” during the past few days. It’s looking quite promising at the moment.

Barring some unlikely failure, this is the only way it’s going to happen for Lewis. Although his hopeful mantra that “anything can still happen” is certainly being supported these days.


Come on rain Gods, do your stuff!


forecasts are just that, FORECASTS. What they really help is keeping the wishes of some alive.


Thursday press conference: Lewis, Nico, Seb, Max, DRic, and of course Massa (no room for Nasr though!). And who’s joining them midway through? Charlie Whiting, only to discuss the events of the Mexican GP.

That could get tasty!!! Nice job FIA … have fun with that one James!


Krb, I hope James introduces Charlie by saying “and today’s special guest iiiiis”


Just like Alonso and Ferrari were praying for rain in ’12, and all it did was to help ensure Vettel’s engine cooled down from the damage so he could finish the race


Come on Lewis 👍


All i want to see is some mild precipitation. That should ensure that the field is brought back to having a modicum of competitiveness, a leveling of some sort. We may then see a decent race…if not then there is no reason to expect anything other than a mercedes/mercedes whitewash.


90% chance of 30-40mm now!!!!! This is gonna be good!


yes, but is the mercedes/mercedes or mercedes/mercedes? that’s the only interest.


Yep Alex that’s the main show.
The rest is cold gravy.
Just hope no one does any wild lunges like Hulks did in 2012 or Red Bulls [mod] don’t over extended or try to anything idiotic.
Let the Mercedes boys fight it out to the last race.
[Mod] wants Rosberg so he may decide to do a Hulks (though Hulks was just a silly manoeuvre ) on Hamilton. Let the Mercedes duel it out and leave the minnows to tag each other.
But in my mind hope it’s Lewis then Vettel then Kimi on the podium though (That’s my hope) maybe Rosberg 4th or 5th 6th. Red Bull some here behind the Force Indias or not in the points.


If Kimi can be on the podium, and also take us on a little detour via some unknown service road at the back of the circuit, I will be more than happy


I always love his detours!

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