Beautifully Brilliant Brazil – Weekend Preview!
Ahh, Brazil. We sure have missed you. A week after Formula One returned to Mexico, the Formula One circus has arrived in São Paulo for the 2021 Brazilian Grand Prix! Can Lewis Hamilton break Max Verstappen’s charge for the title? Or will the Dutchman continue his recent turn of dominance?
Written by Aiden Hover, Edited by Morgan Holiday
The Autódromo José Carlos Pace is a 4.3-kilometre roller coaster filled with challenging bumps and exciting elevation which always invites exciting wheel to wheel racing. Also known as the Interlagos Circuit, it features 15 unique and storied corners with a stunning near-flat final run uphill to the line – home to some of Formula One’s most iconic moments, such as the melee of carnage and bizarre timing era in 2003 that gifted Giancarlo Fisichella his first Formula One victory or the nail-biting drag race of 2019 that awarded Pierre Gasly his first Formula One podium, beating out Lewis Hamilton!
Such events are almost guaranteed at the Brazilian race track with a number of truly legendary Formula One ‘moments’ taking place at Interlagos in front of some of the most passionate sporting fans in the world. This can be seen no clearer than after the 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix, in which home hero Ayrton Senna claimed victory despite a broken gearbox. Senna was truly adored amongst the Brazilian fans and so, to win at home in front of them led to one of the most emotional podiums and celebrations that Formula One fans have ever witnessed as Ayrton struggled to hoist the trophy over his head following the sheer exhaustion of the race. Whilst he would go on to win at home once more in his career, it would come nowhere near to the emotions of that first victory with the roaring crowd beneath him.
The love of the Brazilian fans isn’t just reserved for their champions, but for every driver under the green, yellow and blue flag. In 2008, Lewis Hamilton denied Felipe Massa his first championship on the last corner of the last lap of the last race in front of his home crowd. Whilst the Brit celebrated a truly deserved championship with his family and team in the pit lane, Felipe addressed his army of supporters from the podium with his hand on his chest and his heart in his mouth as he consoled all those who, for a brief moment, thought they had witnessed the first Brazilian champion since the mighty Senna.
Looking back at images from that race 13 years ago, the emotion in his eyes and from the fans is evident, and the Brazilians’ love for their heroes is enviable. This was seen once more in 2016 as Massa, who was on set for retirement that year before his shock call back in 2017, crashed out from his final Brazilian Grand Prix. As he trekked along the rain-soaked pitlane draped in his country’s flag, he was welcomed with a wall of respect and applause from almost every team as images of local marshals and fans bawling their eyes out were played on the world feed. The emotions only grew larger as Felipe’s wife and son ran to embrace him, surrounded by his former Ferrari teammates.
Aside from the aforementioned tense finale in 2008, Interlagos has played host to several legendary championship deciders! One year prior to Hamilton’s glory he lost out to Kimi Räikkönen, who awarded Ferrari their most recent driver’s title. In 2009, Jenson Button capped a fairy-tale season with championship glory in Brazil, leading to the iconic radio celebrations in which the Briton belted out Queen’s ‘We are the champions!’ Sebastian Vettel became a three time champion in 2012 despite being caught up in a dramatic first-lap crash that led to him having to fight back through to a crucial sixth place. That 2012 race also saw Nico Hülkenberg miss out on a first victory following a crash with Lewis Hamilton during his last race for McLaren – incidentally, this was also McLaren’s last Formula One victory until the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.
What can fans look forward to this year, however? The championship fight is truly heating up as the season enters its climax. With Mercedes and Red Bull being separated by only one point in the constructors, it could go either way – as could the battle for third between McLaren and Ferrari and even the fight for fifth between Alpine And Alpha Tauri in which they are both level on points! As is clearly evident, each point is exceptionally valuable, and with only 4 rounds left, this becomes even more true so be sure not to miss any of the action this weekend!