Formula One visited Interlagos for the first time in 1973 and since then, the circuit has played host to some of the most memorable battles and driving displays in the history of the Championship. For Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello, the...
Formula One visited Interlagos for the first time in 1973 and since then, the circuit has played host to some of the most memorable battles and driving displays in the history of the Championship.
For Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello, the chance to race in front of his home fans is very special indeed. More importantly for the local hero, Brazil is a chance to score some much needed world championship points following two non-finishes so far this year. Rubens' team mate, Michael Schumacher is looking to extend the four point lead he currently holds over his younger brother, Ralph. For both Rubens and Michael, Interlagos is an important race.
The track itself is a blend of corners that follow quickly one after the other, allowing the drivers little respite from the notorious bumps and twists of this dusty circuit. Interlagos is one of the only tracks in the World Championship to run anti-clockwise, adding to the drivers' woes as the abnormal stresses on the body compound the already tough race.
Interlagos is as much a test for the car as it is for the driver, so for Ferrari the set up of the car is critical. A big problem at Interlagos is the bumpy track surface. Engineers must allow the suspension some room to travel over the bumps to keep the car's aerodynamic devices functioning efficiently. If the suspension travel is too restricted the car will be unstable over the bumpy surface and will lose time. If the suspension travels too much, the car will 'wallow' and lean in corners, making it very difficult to handle.
Another important factor is the ride height of the car. The cars will be running higher above the ground to handle the bumpy track, but as more air can then flow underneath the cars, the grip is reduced and the car can become unstable
Ferrari's technical partners also have to call on all of their 50 years of race experience when preparing for the Brazilian Grand Prix as David Barnes, Shell's Global Business Manager explains: "The ambient temperature at Interlagos is hot, very hot and the circuit has tendency to be very dusty. As the dust collects against the radiators of the cars, airflow can be restricted and the engines can hot. Shell lubricants remain stable in this heat ensuring that the engine performs to its maximum potential throughout the race."
One final consideration is that although the weather is normally dry, last year's race was interrupted by a rain shower and the same is possible this year. Teams will have to be on their toes throughout the entire race to ensure a successful weekend.