Now the only Grand Prix in South America the race in São Paulo is a perennial favourite with fans as the nature of the circuit and the region’s changeable weather often throws up exciting races. With its slot towards the end of the season its also a race of high drama.
Formula One has been coming to São Paulo since 1973 and in that time the track has been the scene of so many memorable races its hard to imagine being without it. From Alonso’s high speed crash on the main straight that brought out the red flag in 2003; Schumacher’s heroic final outing for Ferrari in 2006; or Massa and his dignified response in the face of a heartbreaking last minute defeat for the 2008 world championship.
But its one man in particular with whom the circuit and the city of São Paulo is synonymous. Ayrton Senna was born and grew up in São Paulo and began his racing career at Interlagos karting track. In F1, no Brazilian driver ever stirred the passions of the home crowd like Senna and he didn’t disappoint, taking victory in 1991 and 1993. With a track layout that has barely changed since 1990, for anyone who’s been watching F1 for a while the place is full-on nostalgia.
While plenty of F1 fans travel the world to see their heroes in the flesh, the Brazilian Grand Prix is typically low on the list for spectators from outside of South America. The distance plays a part in that, but many have the impression of a circuit that is a bit run down, and of a city that’s unsafe for tourists. Though these impressions are not entirely without merit, they are certainly overblown and no reason not to visit this classic venue and beautiful country.
Whether its football world cup fans or F1 spectators, Brazilians know how to have a good time in support of their sporting heroes. On race day the grandstands of Interlagos come alive, the air fills with samba music and good vibes. If you have an adventurous spirit, join them.
Weather at Interlagos can be very changeable. When the rain tips down it does spice up proceedings but being in any uncovered grandstand (most of them) ain’t much fun. Bring a poncho and a small umbrella.