Brazilian Grand Prix 2016 Preview: Start Time, TV Info, Weather, Schedule, Odds
Nico Rosberg has won the last two Brazilian Grands Prix and, with Formula One descending on Sao Paulo again this weekend, he can wrap up his first world championship with a victory.
The battle between the Mercedes team-mates has swung back and forth all year, and Hamilton has dominated recently, winning convincingly in the United States and Mexico. But even wins in Brazil and the final race, in Abu Dhabi, will not be enough if Rosberg can manage at least a second- and third-place finish in the last two races.
In that scenario, Hamilton would actually finish the season with more victories than Rosberg—10 to 9—but would lose the title. It would sort of be F1's equivalent of Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote but losing the U.S. presidential election.
The last time the world champion scored fewer victories than the runner-up was back in that 2008 season, when Felipe Massa won six races to Hamilton's five.
And speaking of Massa, this will be his final race in front of his home crowd, as he is retiring at the end of the season. Williams announced last week that Lance Stroll, an 18-year-old Canadian and the recently crowned Formula Three champion, will replace the Brazilian in 2017.
No doubt it will be an emotional weekend for both Massa and his fans in the crowd at Interlagos.
Keep reading for a full race-weekend preview, including TV times, championship standings, a circuit map and guide, tyre and DRS information, weather forecast, odds and session times.
For the first time in Brazil, Rosberg has a chance to win the title no matter what Hamilton does. Hamilton, on the contrary, will need some help if he is going to win his third straight title.
Behind the Mercs, Max Verstappen is closing in on the Ferrari drivers and is now 10 points behind Sebastian Vettel for fourth place and just one point behind Kimi Raikkonen for fifth.
Here are the top 10 drivers heading into the Brazilian Grand Prix:
Aside from Sauber's continued struggles to score a point and pass Manor for 10th place, the only real battle remaining in the constructors' championship is between Force India and Williams for fourth place. Force India outscored their Grove, England-based rivals by one point in Mexico, extending their lead to nine points.
From a statistical perspective, Mercedes are slightly behind their pace from 2015. After 19 races last year (the full season), Mercedes had 703 points, and they scored 701 in the same number of races back in 2014 (676 without the double-points rule). In both of those seasons, though, they scored 16 wins, while they already have 17 this year.
Here is the table for the constructors' championship:
Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace
The Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace—still often called Interlagos, its former name—has been hosting F1 grands prix since 1973, when the race was won by hometown hero Emerson Fittipaldi. The circuit is named after Carlos Pace, who won the 1975 race there before dying in a plane crash two years later.
The 4.309-kilometre circuit is the second-shortest on the current calendar, behind Monaco, and sits at an altitude of about 800 metres above sea level. The track also features a significant elevation change, with the start/finish straight at the top of a hill before the track falls away to a long back straight and twisty infield section, followed by a sweeping, flat-out climb back to the top.
"Sitting on the grid ahead of the race is one of those unique Formula One sensations: the crowd seems to loom over you; really in your face, very close," said Fernando Alonso, per McLaren's race preview. "The atmosphere and intensity are always amazing."
Check out the official F1 circuit guide video to see a lap from a driver's perspective.
Turns 1, 2 and 3
The Senna "S" is one of the best first-corner sequences in F1. The track starts to slope downwards on the entrance to Turn 1, a left-hander taken at 130 km/h. As it continues to fall away, the drivers immediately turn to the right for Turn 2.
From there, they accelerate downhill and through the Curva do Sol (Turn 3), a sweeping left-hander taken in seventh gear at approximately 265 km/h. This leads on to the back straight, where the cars will top 330 km/h.
Turns 4 and 5
Turn 4 is an overtaking opportunity, as trailing cars will have DRS on the long straight before braking to 155 km/h for the left-hander. The drivers then accelerate through Turn 5, another left-hander taken at approximately 250 km/h.
Turns 6, 7, 8 and 9
This tight, twisty section still has some surprisingly quick corners. After a short straight, the drivers brake to about 240 km/h for Turn 6, which flows directly into Turn 7, completing a long, right-hand curve.
Turns 8 and 9 are a slow right-left "S" that almost doubles back on itself, with drivers slowing to approximately 110 km/h for the apex of Turn 9.
Turns 10, 11 and 12
After a short blast, the drivers climb up to the Turn 10 hairpin, the slowest corner on the circuit at just 90 km/h. Then it is back downhill for Turns 11 and 12. The first is a sweeping left-hander taken at more than 200 km/h, while the second is a much tighter left turn, taken at just 120 km/h.
Turns 13, 14 and 15
These three "turns" are really just flat-out kinks on the long climb back up to the start/finish line. This is an exciting section, with the barriers and fans very close to the side of the circuit. The drivers will hit more than 340 km/h as they cross the line.
The pit entrance is on the left, just before Turn 15, while the exit comes all the way at the bottom of the hill, after Turn 3.
Brazilian Grand Prix Tyres and DRS Zones
Interlagos is a high-speed circuit with lots of long, fast corners. Therefore, Pirelli is bringing the hardest compounds in its range to Brazil—hard, medium and soft. It's the fifth time this year that combination will be available.
"In 2015 we had a three-stop race," explained Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery in the company's race preview, "so with the increase in performance and downforce this year, taking a harder tyre—which has nonetheless been a very rare occurrence this season—was the only sensible option to offer a number of different strategy variables."
No team has selected more than two sets of the hard tyres for the weekend, meaning we won't see much running with the orange-marked compound. Williams are bringing the most soft tyres, with nine sets available for each of their drivers, while several teams, including Ferrari and Red Bull, selected seven sets of soft tyres.
Hamilton and Rosberg have the same tyre selections, with one set of hard, four medium and eight soft apiece.
There are two DRS zones with two, separate detection points. The first detection point is at the apex of Turn 2, with the activation point on the lengthy back straight, following Turn 3.
The second detection point is just after the high-speed kink designated Turn 13, as the cars climb the hill on the long, curving run back to the start/finish line. The activation point is near the pit entrance, right before Turn 15.
Brazilian Grand Prix Weather
As ever, rain is a possibility for all three days in Sao Paulo, according to UBIMET, the FIA's official weather partner.
The chances of precipitation on Sunday are 70 per cent, according to AccuWeather (as of press time) and the high on Friday is 28 degrees Celsius, dropping to 24 degrees on Saturday and 22 degrees on Sunday.
The last wet race in Brazil was back in 2012—a wild affair eventually won by McLaren's Jenson Button following a collision between his then-team-mate, Hamilton, and Nico Hulkenberg.
Brazilian Grand Prix Odds
The oddsmakers certainly think Hamilton will continue his recent form and win in Brazil, guaranteeing that the championship fight will continue to the final race of the season.
The best odds available for the top 10 favourites in Brazil are:
If you want to bet on someone other than a Merc driver winning something, fastest lap is the way to go. In Mexico, once again, neither Mercedes clocked the fastest lap. That honour went to Daniel Ricciardo, who now has four on the season—one more than Hamilton. The Aussie is 9-1 to do it again in Brazil.
Interestingly, Rosberg is just 3-1 to finish off the podium, not much longer odds than to win the race. Hamilton might want to put a few pounds on this outcome.
If you think Sauber might finally break through in Brazil, you can get 22-1 odds for Marcus Ericsson to finish in the points or 25-1 for Felipe Nasr.
All odds are taken from Oddschecker and correct at the time of publication.
Brazilian Grand Prix Session and TV Times
Here are the times for the three free practice sessions, qualifying and the race:
|Practice 1||Friday||1 p.m.|
|Practice 2||Friday||5 p.m.|
|Practice 3||Saturday||2 p.m.|
The above times are in local Abu Dhabi time (GST, UTC +4). You can convert the times to your local time zone using the helpful tool on the official F1 website.
In the United Kingdom, Sky Sports F1 will have live coverage of all the sessions. The programming start times are as follows (all times GMT):
|Practice 1||Friday||11:45 a.m.|
|Practice 2||Friday||3:45 p.m.|
|Practice 3||Saturday||12:45 p.m.|
Channel 4 will have free-to-air highlights of qualifying and the race.
In the United States, NBC has live coverage of all the sessions on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app, with programming start times as follows (all times ET):
|Practice 1||Friday||7 a.m. (NBC Sports app)|
|Practice 2||Friday||11 a.m. (NBCSN)|
|Practice 3||Saturday||8 a.m. (NBC Sports app)|
|Qualifying||Saturday||11 a.m. (NBCSN)|
|Race||Sunday||10 a.m. (NBCSN)|
Enjoy the race and the rest of the weekend!
Matthew Walthert is an F1 columnist for Bleacher Report UK. He has also written for VICE, FourFourTwo and the Globe and Mail, among others.
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