An update on the driver market; Mercedes, & Haas will all keep the same line up; Ferrari retaining Vet with the newly promoted Leclerc from Sauber; Red Bull are keeping Ver with Gas being promoted from Toro Rosso; Renault retaining Hül and taking Ric from Red Bull; Force India will retain Per and will no doubt have Stroll as a partner (to be confirmed); McLaren Sai & rookie Norris; Sauber with Räi & returnee Giovinazzi; Toro Rosso has confirmed Kvy leaving – 1 seat available there and last but not least Williams who will have another rookie George Russell with the second seat to be confirmed.

Report Nº 20

Formula 1 Grande Prêmio Heineken do Brasil. 

Round 20 Autodromo José Carlos Pace, São Paulo

Lap record 1m 11.044s held by M. Verstappen Red Bull (2017).

The name Interlagos is Portugese for ‘between two lakes’ as the circuit was built in a natural bowl which had 2 small lakes in it which partly dictated the layout of the original 7.960km (4.946ml) circuit.  The circuit is situated in the Socorro district of São Paulo.  Built in 1954, there was a Non-Championship race in 1972 and it hosted the Formula 1 Brazilian GP from 1973 until 1980, with the exception of ’78 when it was held at the Jacapaguá circuit at Rio de Janeiro, returning to the Interlagos circuit for the next 2 seasons and back again to Jacapaguá from 1981 until 1989. From 1990 the event has been held on the shortened circuit and was renamed José Carlos Pace in honour of the Brazilian racer (1972-77), who was killed in a light aircraft crash near São Paulo on 18th March 1977 at the age of 32. He drove for Williams, Surtees & Brabham and from his 72 starts he had only 1 win (at his home GP in 1975), 1 pole position, 5 fastest laps and 6 podiums giving him 58 career points. 

This will be the 46th Brazilian GP, but the 36th at Interlagos. The first GP at São Paulo in1973 was round 2 at the beginning of the season and the 40 lap race was won by Brazilian E. Fittipaldi driving a JPS Lotus V8 1h 43m 55.600s with J. Stewart in a Tyrrell – Ford Cosworth V8 & D. Hulme in a McLaren – Ford Cosworth V8  joining him on the podium. The first race on the revamped and shortened circuit 4.325km (2.687ml) in 1990, again as round 2, then became a 71 lap race and was won by A. Prost in a Ferrari V12 in 1h 37m 21.258s with G. Berger in a McLaren – Honda V10 and his team mate A. Senna joining in on the podium celebrations. The event moved to the end of the season in 2004 and was held as the season finale until 2013. Five Brazilian drivers have won here; Fittipaldi in 1973 & ‘74, Pace in 1975, Piquet in 1983 & ’86, Senna in 1991 & ‘93 then after a 13 year gap, Massa in 2006 & ‘08. Only 14 of the 35 races held here have been won from pole position, although 5 of the last 10 have been. McLaren has had 12 wins at this circuit, Ferrari 10, Williams 6, Red Bull 4 and Mercedes 3. Current drivers winning at this circuit are Vet with 3 and Kimi & Ham with 1 apiece. Last year the 71 lap race was won by Vet in 1h 31m 26.260s with & Bot (from pole) and Räi joining him on the podium. Ver recorded the fastest lap of 1m 11.044s on lap 64 which was a new lap record. 

It was anovercast 21C start to the weekend at São Paulo with rain predicted. 

Ham got his third pole position at this circuit, his 10th of the season and 82nd of his career, his time being a new track record at 1m 07.281s. Vet, Bot, Räi, and Ver made up the top five places. Ric was given five place penalties for a new turbo & Oco 5 places for an unscheduled gearbox change, but no penalty for Ham who veered across the track forcing Sir onto the grass in Q2, which could have been a nasty accident.

Race day began in overcast conditions with sunny spells and the temperature of 25ºC with Räi starting his 150th GP for Ferrari. Eri lost a part of his diffuser on the way to the grid. A great start from Ham, but a fierce battle went on behind him between Bot, Vet, Ver & Räi, but all 20 drivers made it without any major dramas; just the usual close encounters and running wide. Eri was the first to retire on lap 20 after losing more parts from his C37. Hül was the next to drop out on lap 32 with an engine related problem. There was a lot of action and some flashes of brilliance with some daring and wheel-banging overtaking manoeuvres especially between Ver & Oco; with the latter attempting to unlap himself, the two touched, which sent the Dutchman into a spin (now he knows what it feels like!). Oco was given a 10 second time penalty for causing the collision. Alo was handed a 5 second time penalty for ignoring the blue flags in the midst of his own battle for track position. After an exciting and action packed race Ham took the win in style, but not as easily as he would have liked, in 1h 27m 09.066s, his 10th win of the season. Ver & Räi joined him on the podium.

Ver had a forceful confrontation with Oco for which he was given two days public service for being aggressive. Bot recorded the fastest lap clocking 1m 10.540s another new record by 0.504s on lap 65. 

Williams have at last confirmed Robert Kubica as their other driver to partner 19 year old rookie George Russell for next year. 

Report Nº 21

Round 20. 55 laps @ 5.554km/3.451ml = 305.470km/189.819ml.

Lap record 1m 40.279s held by S. Vettel Red Bull (2009).

This will be the 10th race to be held at this dusty desert circuit, built on a man-made island and running around the marina. It initially hosted the finale for two years before Brazil took over from 2011-2013 and returned to the end of year slot for 2014.  The anti – clockwise circuit has 21 turns and 2 long straights. This circuit also has a long and unique pit lane with the entry just before the final turn and the exit after winding under the circuit, re-joining the track just before turn 3. It was as usuala twilight race with the natural light fading and being replaced by floodlights. 

The top ten shoot out was its usual fast and furious with Ham getting his 11th pole position of the season with Bot giving Mercedes their 5th consecutive front row lock out at this circuit. Vet, Räi, & Ric were the top five runners.

Ham held on to his lead, Hül clipped Gro and barrel rolled, ending upside down against the barriers and safety car deployed for 3 laps. Räi stopped on the pit with a loss of power. Oco was handed a 5 second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage. Alo did it 3 times so ended up with a 15 second penalty, but finished his last Formula 1 race in 11th place. Ham won his 11th GP of the year. Vet & Ver joined him on the podium. 

I hope you have all enjoyed reading the reports this season as much as I have enjoyed doing them.  If you have any comments or complaints I would like to hear them, I am open to criticism so no worries there.