Track map by Will Pittenger
The official name of this circuit is a tribute to Brazilian (and Paulista) racing driver Jose Carlos Pace (professionally he dropped the Jose). Pace's sole F1 win came in 1975 on the old Interlagos layout.
Following his death in an air crash in 1977, the track was renamed in his honour.
But for whatever reason, the circuit's original name, Interlagos, has lived on. It means "between lakes" and the track is indeed situated in a neighbourhood between two substantial reservoirs.
Interlagos held the Brazilian Grand Prix seven times in the 1970s and 1980s, and was redesigned for its return to the calendar in 1990. An aerial view of the circuit still shows much of the original layout.
One of an ever-shrinking number of "classic" circuits F1 still visits, this place is truly unique. Undulating and scenic, every corner has a story to tell.
Turns 1, 2 and 3
A lap begins on the pit straight, heading uphill. The track levels out, then starts to drop downhill as the drivers brake for Turn 1. This left-hander is part one of the Senna S, a chicane truly worthy of the name.
It seems to take an age to reach the apex as the slope steepens and the drivers drop all the way down into second, then accelerate out still heading downhill. This is a tough corner to get exactly right—and a great spot for overtaking.
Turn 2 is taken with a bit of a lift, the drivers feathering the throttle only slightly. Back ends often look loose here as the downhill slope levels out.
The left-hand Turn 3 (Curva do Sol) is a flat-out acceleration zone in the dry; in the wet, it's a very tricky beast. It leads out on to the back straight (which also has a name, Reta Oposta).
Turns 4 and 5
At the end of the straight, the drivers brake late for the left-hand Turn 4, Descida do Lago (roughly, Lake Descent—there's a small lake beyond the run-off area). It's medium-speed and another decent passing location.
The track drops steeply downhill after the apex, starting to level out through the flat-out left of Turn 5.
Turns 6, 7 and 8
A short straight follows. The track is unusually narrow by F1 standards here, as it dips and begins to rise.
Turn 6 (Ferradura) is the first part of an uphill right-hander on the fast side of medium-speed. Turn 7 (Laranjinha) is the second part of the corner
Almost straight away it's braking for Turn 8, a very tight right-hander. The drivers take a lot of kerb on the inside (sometimes too much, if you're someone who respects the circuit boundaries) before heading downhill again.
Turns 9 and 10
Turn 9 (Pinheirinho) is a slow, wide left-hand hairpin at the foot of a hill. It's downhill on the entry and until the middle of the corner, then uphill on the way out.
A short uphill straight follows before braking again for Turn 10 (Pico de Pato, duck's bill in English), a tight right-hand hairpin and the slowest corner on the circuit. The track drops slightly as the drivers turn in, rises a little for a few metres, then drops away again.
Turns 11 and 12
It's downhill again (don't elevation changes make a difference?) towards and through the flat-out left-hander of Turn 11 (Mergulho, literally "diving," a wonderfully appropriate name).
Then it's back uphill towards the final real corner, the tricky and extremely important left-hander of Turn 12 (Juncao, meaning "junction"). It's easy to get this one a bit wrong, which can affect the driver all the way down the long pit straight which follows.
Watching the cars exit Mergulho, hit the floor of the valley and shoot back up the slope towards Juncao is one of my favourite sights of the year.
Turns 13, 14 and 15
The real corners are out of the way, but the Interlagos pit straight is a strange and magnificent old thing with three flat-out left-handers along its length.
It's uphill to start with out of Juncao and through Turn 13. The track then levels out as it sweeps through Turn 14 (Subida do Boxes, "up to the pits").
There's a slight downhill section through Turn 15 (Arquibancadas, which appropriately means "bleachers" or "grandstands"), then it's uphill again to the finish line.
The pit lane entry is on the inside of Turn 15 and the exit finally emerges on the straight between Turns 3 and 4.