Sao Paulo GP Preview – Wolff: “We know we’ve taken a good step forward”

© Sebastian Kawka for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix ltd.

In Mercedes’ Sao Paulo Grand Prix preview, Toto Wolff says “hopefully our package will run well there, and we can put on a good show for everyone”. 

“We came away from Mexico with our advantage over Ferrari in the fight for second in the Constructors’ intact,” Wolff said.

“That is an important battle for us and one we are focused on winning. Leaving Mexico with a second-place finish, given the challenging start to the weekend and our grid positions, was positive.

“The car showed very good race pace however we know we’ve got more work to do to extract the maximum from the W14 across all three days.

“Lewis put in a very strong performance to score a podium and George gave it absolutely everything, even when his tyres had gone off at the end.

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We’ve got one last race in this triple header and it’s in Brazil. We know we’ve taken a good step forward in recent races, but Mexico showed W14 can still prove tricky to master.

“We will look to arrive in Interlagos with a solid baseline to work with and we’ll see what we can do from there.

“Of course, we have fond memories from Brazil, especially the past two visits with Lewis’ spectacular win in 2021 and George’s first victory in 2022. The fans are super passionate about F1, and we always get such an enthusiastic reception from them.

“Hopefully our package will run well there, and we can put on a good show for everyone,” the Austrian concluded.

Fact File: São Paulo Grand Prix

  • The Autódromo José Carlos Pace is the fourth-shortest circuit on the 2023 F1 calendar at just 4.309 km long.
  • The only tracks shorter than it are Monaco, Zandvoort, and last weekend’s venue, Mexico.
  • However, 67% of the lap is spent at full throttle.
  • That ensures that it is the second-quickest lap time of the year, behind only the Red Bull Ring.
  • The current lap record is held by former Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, who recorded a 1m 10.540 in 2018.
  • The absolute track record, the fastest ever lap of the circuit in an F1 car, is held by Lewis who recorded a 1m 07.281 to take pole position in the same year.
  • The São Paulo Grand Prix venue is situated 800 metres above sea level, the second-highest altitude we visit on the calendar.
  • Again, only last weekend’s venue in Mexico City is higher although that has significantly more elevation, clocking in at over 2,200 metres above sea level.
  • Interlagos provides a tricky challenge to set-up the cars. The first and third sectors require low drag for the long straights, but the twisty middle sector requires high downforce.
  • With two DRS zones, the focus typically falls towards higher downforce for the ultimate fastest lap, but a balance still needs to be found to be competitive for overtaking and defending during the race.
  • From the exit of Turn 12, there is 1.2 km of full throttle before reaching the braking zone for Turn 1.
  • In this part of the track, there is also an elevation change of 33 metres.
  • The biggest change in elevation however is from the start/finish straight to Turn 4, which sees a 40 metre drop in elevation.
  • The long straight before the start of a flying lap requires smart deployment of energy from the ERS to maximise performance towards the end of the out-lap.
  • Turn 1 is heavily banked towards the inside, which unloads the front-left wheel and can cause lockups.
  • However, as the tyre is unloaded, flat spots are less likely and time loss isn’t as high due to the steep banking and variety of lines possible.
  • The uphill grid requires the drivers to find a balance between holding the car on the brakes as gently as possible, without rolling backwards.
  • From Turn 10 to Turn 6 (around 3.5 km) the left-hand front tyre does very little work and therefore cools down quickly. This provides a challenge in keeping the tyre in its operating window.
  • Interlagos is a flowing circuit, with plenty of combined corner entries (where the car is cornering and braking at the same time). This means good stability is important along with a good front-end for the low-speed middle sector.
  • Track temperatures can reach some of the hottest of the season here, getting up towards 60 °C.
  • The weather in São Paulo can also be mixed at this time of year. It is not uncommon to see sunshine and high daily temperatures followed quickly by a thunderstorm bringing a deluge of rain.
  • This weekend’s São Paulo Grand Prix marks the final sprint event of the 2023 season.

Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

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