F1 2014 Brazilian Grand Prix: Hamilton hopes for Interlagos podium
- Credit: Mercedes-Benz
Record-breaking Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton heads to the 2014 Brazilian Grand Prix with a second world title within sight following five successive victories.
The penultimate round of the 2014 World Championship sees Formula 1 make its only visit of the year to South America.
It was in Brazil that 29-year-old Mercedes AMG Petronas racer Hamilton famously clinched the 2008 F1 world title in only his second season with McLaren.
Despite holding a 24-point advantage over Silver Arrows colleague Nico Rosberg in the race for the 2014 crown, victory in Sunday’s São Paulo race will not be enough to secure Hamilton the drivers’ championship – owing to double points being available in the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
However, momentum is with Hamilton after his stunning victory in the United States GP in Austin.
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Hamilton said: “Winning in the States was just an incredible feeling. I love spending time there and it’s fantastic to see how much the sport is growing.
“I was just blown away by the support I had all weekend, which made the win even more special.
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“Once I got ahead in the race there was no looking back and I still can’t quite believe the run we’ve had recently. The team are doing an incredible job.”
Sunday’s win in Texas made Hamilton the most successful British F1 driver of all time, with 32 wins – one more than Nigel Mansell.
The scene of this weekend’s race, the tortuous Autódromo José Carlos Pace, is located in Interlagos, a suburb of São Paulo.
The 4.309km circuit is named after Brazilian Formula 1 driver Carlos Pace, who was killed in a plane crash in 1977.
The track, which is also known simply as Interlagos, was built in 1938 on a plot of marshland deemed unsuitable for housing, and it’s been the permanent home of the Brazilian Grand Prix since 1990.
The track holds “very special” memories for Hamilton. He said: “In 2008 I needed to finish fifth or better to take the title and, until the very last corner of the last lap, I was running sixth.
“I passed Timo [Glock] down the inside and, as I crossed the line, I didn’t know if I’d done it or not.
“I honestly though I’d lost it until quite a while after the flag, when the team came over the radio to tell me I’d won the World Championship.
“That was an incredible emotional rollercoaster and a moment that will stay with me for my entire life.
“My record at Interlagos hasn’t actually been the best so far in terms of results, though, with only one podium all the way back in 2009.
“I’m hoping this weekend will be the one to change that.”
While Hamilton is in buoyant mood after successive victories in Italy, Singapore, Japan, Russia and USA, Rosberg is on the back foot after qualifying on pole in Austin but being overtaken on track by his Mercedes rival.
Rosberg said: “The weekend in Austin was a tough one for me. Qualifying was obviously fantastic but I was disappointed to let the lead slip away in the race and to lose more points in the fight for the Drivers’ Championship.
“In the end, Lewis just did a better job on the day and now it’s up to me to make the most of these last two races and capitalise on any opportunity.
“It will be tough, but I’m going to give it absolutely everything I’ve got right up to the flag in Abu Dhabi.
“That first opportunity comes this weekend at the Brazilian Grand Prix – one of the classic races on the calendar.”
The German added: “There is so much history there and, of course, there have been many great Brazilian drivers in Formula One.
“I’ve got a mixed record at this circuit but it’s one I really enjoy as it’s usually a really action-packed race.
“It would be great to give my title challenge a final boost with a good result before we head to the showdown in Abu Dhabi.
Interlagos is one of the more challenging circuits on the calendar in that it invariably throws up a few surprises.
Historically it has been the final race of the season, which always incites unusual behaviour from the drivers.
Seemingly normal procedures such as pit lane entry, for example, can often catch people out.
Drivers know the regulations, however it is far from uncommon to see penalties awarded for repeated infringement of the pit lane entry boundaries, which are slightly unusual at this circuit.
Beyond the men behind the wheel, however, there are plenty of unique characteristics which add to that unpredictability factor in São Paulo.
The climate is highly variable, with rain often washing out the majority of running before clearing to leave an entirely dry day on the Sunday.
This has produced some fascinating races over the years as teams and drivers must adapt quickly to a suddenly unfamiliar set of conditions.
Elevation changes around the circuit also lead to rivers forming across the track during sustained periods of rain, which can often lead to sessions being suspended.
Track temperatures can vary significantly too, reaching levels as high as 48 degrees and dropping as low as the early twenties.
These shifts can occur not only from season to season but from day to day, making it tricky to predict the best set-up direction for each session.
Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, is looking to complete the 2014 season with two clean races on the sporting and reliability front.
Looking back to the US GP, Wolff said: “What a weekend we had in America – fantastic support from the crowds, a great spectacle on the track and another top result for the Silver Arrows in a key market for Mercedes-Benz.
“As a child, I remember the dominant season of McLaren in 1988 – winning race after race throughout the year – so it makes me extremely proud for the team that we have now equalled that record for one-two finishes with the result in Austin.
“Both drivers performed superbly and it was fascinating to see how evenly matched they still are as we approach the end of a long, tough season.
“It is hugely satisfying to know that now only a Mercedes driver can win the Drivers’ Championship.
“Although this has appeared likely for some time, you can never rest easily until it is a mathematical certainty.
“Of course, that’s not to say that there will be any rest between now and the end of the season as the double-points race in Abu Dhabi still has the potential to overshadow a great season should reliability become a factor. Our focus is still 100 per cent on ensuring that is not the case.”
Executive technical director Paddy Lowe added: “Looking ahead to Brazil, the majority of the track has been resurfaced which will remain a point of great interest throughout the weekend in terms of how the tyres perform.
“It’s a tricky circuit at the best of times, with high altitude, significant elevation changes and a high frequency of wet conditions.
“Already, the weather is forecast to include thunderstorms on all three running days! It’s sure to be an exciting weekend and a good prelude to the title showdown in Abu Dhabi.”