Interlagos in São Paulo has played host to some of Formula One’s most dramatic moments. Thrilling title-deciders, charges through the field and chaotic races in changeable conditions have all kept fans on the edge of their seat whenever the F1 community rolls into town.
In recent years the link between Mercedes and Brasil has become ever more special. Lewis’ unforgettable comeback drive through the field to victory following two grid penalties in 2021 struck a chord with the home fans like no other on the grid – a truly unbreakable bond, made even more poignant in the birth city of Lewis’ racing hero Ayrton Senna.
The love-affair continued in 2022 as Lewis was made an honorary citizen of the country in Parliament in the days leading up to the race and for the second year in a row we left Brasil in carnival mood after celebrating George’s first win in Formula One, the first race winner for our Team to have come through our Junior Driver programme.
Fact File: São Paulo Grand Prix
The current lap record is held by former Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, who recorded a 1m 10.540 in 2018.
The absolute track record, the fastest ever lap of the circuit in an F1 car, is held by Lewis who recorded a 1m 07.281 to take pole position in the same year.
The São Paulo Grand Prix venue is situated 800 metres above sea level, the second highest altitude we visit on the calendar.
Interlagos provides a tricky challenge to set-up the cars. The first and third sectors require low drag for the long straights, but the twisty middle sector requires high downforce.
With two DRS zones, the focus typically falls towards higher downforce for the ultimate fastest lap, but a balance still needs to be found to be competitive for overtaking and defending during the race.
The biggest change in elevation is from the start/finish straight to Turn 4, which sees a 40 metre drop in elevation.
Turn 1 is heavily banked towards the inside, which unloads the front-left wheel and can cause lockups.
The uphill grid requires the drivers to find a balance between holding the car on the brakes as gently as possible, without rolling backwards.
Interlagos is a flowing circuit, with plenty of combined corner entries (where the car is cornering and braking at the same time). This means good stability is important along with a good front-end for the low-speed middle sector.
Track temperatures can reach some of the hottest of the season here, getting up towards 60 °C.
The Autódromo José Carlos Pace is the fourth-shortest circuit on the 2023 F1 calendar at just 4.309 km long.
The weather in São Paulo can also be mixed. It is not uncommon to see sunshine and high daily temperatures followed quickly by a thunderstorm bringing a deluge of rain.
PETRONAS Race Preview with Lewis and George
Watch Lewis and George's preview of the 2023 São Paulo Grand Prix, courtesy of PETRONAS.