Interlagos - Home of The Brazilian Grand Prix

August 8, 2015
Alexander S

  • Interlagos Autódromo Jose Carlos Pace São Paulo Brazil
  • Interlagos map
  • Brazilian Grand Prix 1980
  • Interlagos Formula 1
  • Interlagos Sao Paolo

Autódromo José Carlos Pace is a well-known racing circuit located in the Brazilian city of São Paulo, in the neighborhood of Interlagos, which is the former name of the circuit built in 1940. However, the venue is still best-known under its old name.

Circuit built thanks to a market crash

Interlagos, which means ‘between lakes’ (as it is located between two artificial lakes) was built on the site which was bought by investors who wanted to build residences there, but after the stock market crash in 1929, local authorities decided to build a racing circuit 9 years later, based on the Roosevelt Field Raceway in New York. The construction started in 1938, and in May of 1940, the track was completed and ready for racing.

Autódromo José Carlos Pace, São Paulo, Brazil, map/track layout

Map: Interlagos circuit/track layout – Autódromo José Carlos Pace

Old-school navigation through the Interlagos circuit

Interlagos is a 4.309 km long circuit with 15 turns and was modified in 1990the original track was 7.960 km long and had 26 turns. The circuit belongs to the minority of non-oval racing circuits that go in an anti-clockwise direction.

With long straights and some very interesting turns, especially Senna’s S which connects with ‘Curva do Sol’, this circuit could be described as one of the old-school tracks. The stands across the circuit hold a capacity of 60,000 spectators.

Drivers are in love with the Interlagos circuit

Interlagos is best known as the host of the Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix. The first race was held in 1972, but it was a non-championship event and was won by the Argentinean, Carlos Reutemann. The next year’s Grand Prix was part of the Formula 1 World Championship and the winner was the local driver and one of the crowd favorites Emerson Fittipaldi, who also won in 1974. The old Interlagos track wasn’t popular among F1 drivers as it was very bumpy, had inadequate barriers, deep ditches and embankments and so the last race was held in 1980.

Interaction with the old track led to a protest

The last of the races of 1980 was almost cancelled after many drivers, led by the reigning champion Jody Scheckter, protested as they were concerned about safety. After that race, Brazilian Grand Prix moved to the Jacarepagua circuit in Rio de Janeiro, the home of another well-known Brazilian – Nelson Piquet.

Gilles Villeneuve, São Paulo, Brazil, Interlagos, Autódromo José Carlos Pace, 1980 Brazilian GP

Gilles Villeneuve leads Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jabouille at Brazilian GP, 1980

Brazilian GP return

In 1990, the Brazilian Grand Prix returned to Interlagos, or Autódromo José Carlos Pace as that name became official in 1985, to honor the Brazilian driver who died in a plane crash eight years earlier. The track was shortened and modified and now has one very long straight section, high-speed curves and a little run-off area. One of the reasons it is so popular among drivers, despite unpredictable weather, is that it follows the ups and downs of the hilly ground which makes it harder to drive and requires more power from the car’s engine.

2008 Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo detail, race start

Detail from the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix

Massa narrowly missed the title

Many famous Grand Prix races were held at Interlagos after the reconstruction. One of the best known is the one from 2008, when another home crowd favorite, Felipe Massa in Ferrari, almost became the Formula 1 World champion as he won the race on the wet track, but Lewis Hamilton managed to overtake Timo Glock in the battle for the fifth place and took his first championship title, beating Massa by only one point.

Jenson Button secured his only championship title with Brawn GP at Interlagos in 2009, while in 2010 Red Bull Racing secured their first of four consecutive Constructors’ championship titles.

Aerial view of the Interlagos Grand Prix circuit, São Paulo, Brazil

Interlagos circuit, São Paulo, Brazil

Upgrade finished in 2015

Another interesting aspect of this circuit is the very long pit-lane which was modified twice over the last few years, mainly because of safety reasons. In 2007, problems with the track surface were finally solved with the replacement of the entire asphalt, while in 2014 an 80 million dollar upgrade programme was kicked off, which included the building of a new Formula 1 pit complex for the 2015 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Interlagos, Autódromo José Carlos Pace, São Paulo, Brazil, Ferrari practice, Brazilian Grand Prix

Ferrari during practice for Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos

History of records

The lap record holder at the original 7.96km long track is the Frenchman Jean-Pierre Jabouille with Renault F1, set in 1980.

The lap record time on the current Interlagos circuit was held for a long time by Juan Pablo Montoya, who managed a 1:11.473 in Williams during the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2004. Then, in 2018, Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas finally set the new record by setting time 1:10.540.

Alain Prost has the most wins (6), two more than Michael Schumacher. Among active drivers, Sebastian Vettel has three wins and Lewis Hamilton was the winner two times.

Autódromo José Carlos Pace also hosts the races of the FIA World Endurance Championship, the Mil Milhas Brasil, Stock Car Brasil, Brazilian Formula 3 Championship and TC 2000.

Video : Ayrton Senna’s outstanding performance leads to a win at the 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix

Address: Av. Sen. Teotônio Vilela, 261, São Paulo – SP, 04801-010, Brazil

Phone:  +55 11 5666-8822



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