F1 2014 Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying: Hamilton battles for pole position at Interlagos

Lewis Hamilton racing around the Interlagos circuit in 2014 Brazilian Grand Prix practice [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Lewis Hamilton racing around the Interlagos circuit in 2014 Brazilian Grand Prix practice [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Mercedes-Benz

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton battles for pole position in qualifying for the 2014 Brazilian Grand Prix at the Interlagos circuit in São Paulo today (Saturday).

The 29-year-old Mercedes AMG Petronas racer from Hertfordshire was second fastest in Friday’s two practice sessions behind Silver Arrows colleague Nico Rosberg.

However, Hamilton will be looking to beat Rosberg to pole in qualifying today (Saturday) to secure a front-row grid position at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace.

The 4.309km circuit is named after Brazilian Formula 1 driver Carlos Pace, who was killed in a plane crash in 1977.

There have been several iterations of the anti-clockwise circuit over the last 75 years. The layout that hosted the first World Championship Brazilian Grand Prix in 1973 was a fast 4.9-mile test of nerve for the drivers. The track that is used today is just 2.677 miles long and it’s much safer.

Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace – the stats you need

* Race distance: 71 laps (305.909km/190.092 miles)

* Start time: 14:00 (local)/16:00 (GMT)

* Circuit length: 4.309km/2.677 miles

* 2013 winner: Sebastian Vettel

* 2013 pole: Sebastian Vettel

* Lap record: Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams FW26) 1m11.473s (217.038km/h)

* First race: 1973

Due to the marshy topography, resurfacing work is carried out regularly to flatten out any bumps in the asphalt – and this year’s race is no different. The track has been completely resurfaced and there are expectations that it will be in its best condition for several years.

From a technical point of view, the track is a classic compromise between straight-line speed and cornering grip. The long drag up the hill towards the start-finish straight is where top speed is at a premium, whereas Sector Two includes several slow hairpins, around which mechanical grip and traction are important.

The track’s altitude of 800m is another factor to be taken into account. The thinner air at this height reduces the power from a naturally aspirated engine by as much as eight percent, while also affecting the amount of downforce generated by the cars.

As a result, the efficiency of the turbo and energy recovery systems on this year’s power units is going to be crucial in maximising horsepower.

On nailing a perfect hot lap around the Interlagos track, Hamilton said: “You start the lap absolutely flat out into the low-grip Turn One. The corner really falls away from you quite steeply here and it’s so easy to lock up, but you need to make sure to get a really tight exit to enable you to be flat through Turns Two and Three.

“Positioning is crucial to carrying good speed through these two corners, as you’re then into the first DRS straight and one of the best overtaking opportunities around the circuit at Turn Four.

“You can brake really late for this corner – way after the 100m line and closer to the 50m line – so you need to take as much speed as possible on the way in.

“You then take a little bit of the kerb on exit and run flat out through Turn Five, all the way up to Turn Six. Again, this is a corner where you can carry so much speed on entry – trying to just clip the apex and doing the same through Turn Seven and hanging the car out wide for the entry to Turn Eight.”

Lewis Hamilton on track ahead of the 2014 Brazilian Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]Lewis Hamilton on track ahead of the 2014 Brazilian Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Ahead of qualifying, Hamilton added: “Along with Turn Nine, this really does require you to use absolutely all of the kerb for the best line and is really tricky to get right.

“Turn 10 is next, which is really low grip and just seems to last forever. There’s so little traction but you have to find it as best you can, as you’re then flat out down the hill through Turn 11, where the car is constantly trying to step out on you.

“Braking into Turn 12, the final corner in effect, is tough. Your tyres are so hot from the stop / start, high braking nature of the middle sector that the rear end can fishtail into here and it’s easy to overrun the corner.

“You have to keep up your minimum speed, though, as the lap ends with a flat-out run up the hill and across the line, where keeping the steering as straight and smooth as possible is crucial.

“It’s a long run and with the DRS zone included, this is the best chance to make an overtake stick.”


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