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Brazilian GP: Preview - Williams

NEWS STORY
12/10/2009

The third anti-clockwise circuit of the campaign, after Istanbul Park and Singapore, Interlagos features a long, long uphill left-hander that places a tremendous strain on drivers' necks – and tyres. In ordinary circumstances, this is yet another two-stop race: McLaren gambled on a three-stop strategy when trying to revive Lewis Hamilton's title hopes in 2007 and the Englishman dropped more than half a minute to the pace-setting Ferraris. Hamilton and many others subsequently made unscheduled third stops in 2008 because of a torrential downpour, almost a daily occurrence at this time of year in Sao Paulo.

Talking technical

Car dynamics

Average turn angle indicates the average angle of a circuit's corners expressed in degrees. The higher the average turn angle, the more acute the corners in the circuit's configuration and the greater propensity for understeer to compromise lap time. Average turn angle at Interlagos is 1220 - which is above average as the second sector of the lap comprises a mix of long, high speed corners.

The end of straight (EOS) speed at Interlagos was 305kp/h in 2008. The Brazilian track ranks as having the 8th highest EOS speed on the 2009 calendar, and this is one indicator of the wing level typically selected to optimise the downforce/drag ratio. Meanwhile, Interlagos also has the 7th highest average lap speed of any of the tracks on the calendar.

Pitlane & refuelling strategy

The pitlane length and profile contribute to the determination of the optimum fuel strategy. The pitlane loss at Interlagos is approximately 21.0 seconds, which is the 8th most penalising pitlane in the Championship. To complete a normalised distance of 5km around Interlagos requires 2.29kg of fuel against an average of 2.42kg per 5km across all circuits this season, ranking the circuit as the 3rd least demanding in terms of fuel consumption.

Safety car

Another key contributor to the determination of race strategy is the likelihood of safety car deployments, which are influenced by weather considerations, the availability of clear run-off areas that allow racing to continue while recovery takes place and the circuit profile, especially the character of the entry and exit into turn one at the start of the race. There have been eight safety car deployments since 2000, so the circuit's character is very likely to induce a safety car period.

Temperature, pressure & humidity

As an example, it is a long observed tradition that drivers arriving at Interlagos complain about a lack of grip and an absence of engine power. Having become acquainted with a baseline of engine and aerodynamic performance during the season, the climb to 750 metres above sea level for one of the final races can, courtesy of the reduction in air density, rob a Formula One car of engine power, aerodynamic performance and cooling. The losses can come close to double digit percentages and thus have a very real impact on car performance. Air density is a factor of the prevailing ambient temperature, which varies most significantly by season, air pressure which is closely linked to altitude and, to a much smaller degree, by humidity. Thus if races are run at the same time each year, the factor that tends to have the greatest bearing on air density is elevation. Interlagos is 750m above sea level and has the lowest average pressure (927 mbar) of any race venue in the 2009 Championship. As a consequence, the circuit's ambient characteristics will have the largest reduction of engine power of any race this year.

What the drivers say

Thoughts on the Japanese Grand Prix
Nico: It was a strange weekend in Japan. The weather on Friday made things quite tricky as we didn't have much time to prepare the car, then all the incidents during qualifying made for an interesting session as well. What happened in Q2 obviously affected qualifying for me, but then I benefitted from all of the grid penalties. In the end, I started from 7th and ended the race in P5, collecting more points which I was pleased about after Singapore.”

Kazuki: Japan was just disappointing for me really. I really went there hoping to score points as I was back home at Suzuka in front of my home fans but it wasn't to be.

What we did after Japan
Kazuki: Work didn't stop when the race finished for me. I went straight back to Tokyo on the Monday for a driver appearance for AT&T in the evening, then I had another event on Tuesday for Accenture. Marketing duties ended on Wednesday and I have spent the week in Japan with my friends and family as I get to see so little of them during the season. I'll travel straight to Brazil from here, so it's been a long trip!

Nico: I went straight back to Monaco after Japan. As it was a back-to-back with Singapore, it was a long trip away so it was nice to get back home. I'm heading out to Brazil a little earlier, on Monday, as I have a driver day for Allianz in Brazil on Tuesday.

About Brazil
Kazuki: Brazil is very different to Japan so it'll be a complete change going there next week! I like it though. The fans are always amazing; they're really passionate about Formula One, so it's nice to experience the atmosphere. On Wednesday I'm with AT&T, so hopefully I'll get to experience some proper Brazilian culture with them before the weekend begins.

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