Hitting the Apex: Interlagos

It’s Brazil Race Week! Read on for everything you need to know about the Autódromo José Carlos Pace, also known as Interlagos.

Written by Mees Drijgers

November 3, 2023

The Autódromo José Carlos Pace, often referred to as Interlagos, is a semi-permanent racing circuit in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. In 1926, the land the circuit is located on was bought by property developers to build housing, however due to the 1929 stock market crash these plans fell through and it was decided to build a race track instead. Construction started in 1938 and the circuit was officially opened in 1940, after the original inauguration planned for 1939 was cancelled due to the weather conditions. For the design of the track layout, inspiration was taken from Roosevelt Raceway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the US, Brooklands in the UK, and Montlhéry in France.

Circuit Interlagos seen from above (Photo via @haasf1team on Instagram)

The circuit joined the F1 calendar in 1973. In 1985, the circuit was renamed after José Carlos Pace, who had won the Brazilian Grand Prix in 1975 and had died in a plane crash just 2 years later. Due to safety concerns, the Grand Prix would be held at Rio de Janeiro’s Jacarepaguá from 1981 till 1989. After multiple renovations, the Grand Prix returned to Interlagos in 1990. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the race was cancelled in 2020, but swiftly returned in 2021 and was rebranded as the São Paulo Grand Prix.

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

  • Track distance: 4.309 km / 2.67 miles
  • DRS zones: 2
  • Corners: 15
  • Elevation: 43 metres
  • Laps: 71
  • Race lap record: 1:10.540 Valtteri Bottas (2018)
  • Direction: anti-clockwise

 

According to F1.com, Autódromo José Carlos Pace configuration for this year is as follows:

 

PREVIOUS TYRE COMPOUNDS

  • Selected compounds in 2022: C4 (soft) C3 (medium) C2 (hard)
  • Selected compounds in 2021: C4 (soft) C3 (medium) C2 (hard)

 

Michael Schumacher is the most successful driver at Interlagos with 4 wins to his name. Ferrari is the most successful constructor at the circuit with a total of 9 wins. The pole position record at the track is shared between 7 drivers, who have all scored 3 poles here: Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Rubens Barrichello, Felipe Massa, Mika Häkkinen, and Ayrton Senna.

Interlagos (Photo via @F1 on Twitter)

Interlagos shares the characteristics of many pre-WWII race tracks, featuring banked corners and a lap that starts on the part of the track that resembles a kind of half-oval. Between 1957 and 1990, it was actually possible to run Interlagos as an oval. Interlagos is known for its snakey corners, with the Senna S leading into Turn 4 and the in-field section that follows. The elevation change means drivers will be slinging their car up the hill at the end of their laps.

Interlagos (Photo via @alphataurif1 on Instagram)

PREVIOUS WINNERS

  • 2022 George Russell
  • 2021 Lewis Hamilton
  • 2019 Max Verstappen
  • 2018 Lewis Hamilton
  • 2017 Sebastian Vettel

     

     

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mees was introduced to the world of F1 by one of her friends in July 2020 and hasn’t missed a race weekend since. Her favourite drivers are Alex Albon, Lewis Hamilton, Oscar Piastri, and George Russell; outside of F1, she also actively supports Liam Lawson and Callum Ilott. She specialises in writing about F2, but is looking to specialise in FE and IndyCar as well, after starting to watch both series in 2022. After getting her Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Culture, she is currently getting MA degrees in Translation and English Literature & Culture. When she’s not watching motorsport, she’s either watching football matches (preferably Real Madrid), reading a book, or watching streams on Twitch.

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