It’s the biggest city in the Americas and almost certainly not the most beautiful. But, for Brazilians and for the world, Sao Paulo is also “the city” of Formula One. Of the 44 editions of the Brazilian Grand Prix held to date (plus the opening non-championship race in 1972) only ten have been taken place at Rio’s Jacarepagua track, with all the others run at Interlagos, a suburb to the south of the city. Half of all Brazilian drivers who have raced in Formula 1 come from the Paulista state: Fittipaldi, Pace (after whom the circuit is named,) Senna, Barrichello and Massa, to mention the best known.
The original layout was almost eight kilometres in length, running on past the current Esses, dedicated to Ayrton Senna. The drivers always complained about the condition of the track surface, which also moved around, as it is built on swamp land. Today, it’s a case of the extreme opposite, as the track is just over 4 kilometres and its main straight is just 650 metres long, although the cars are accelerating all the way through its final part.
The Scuderia Ferrari roll of honour in Brazil features the names of Lauda, Reutemann, Mansell, Prost, Schumacher, Massa and of course, Kimi Raikkonen, who, with an adventurous drive in 2007 also took the Drivers’ title: there are some who would assert they spotted a tear when he removed his helmet and balaclava to thank everyone in the pits.
A few years ago, the look of the Paulista paddock also changed, with the narrow corridor between the garages and hospitality areas replaced with something more modern and spacious. What remains unchanged are the famous corner names: Bico de Pato (duck bill, because of its narrow flattened appearance,) Mergulho (the dive,) so called due to its sharp drop and Laranjinha (literally, small orange) because, for Brazilians, the “oranges” are inexperienced drivers and this tricky turn is not made for them…