2016 Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix, Preview
04 November 2016
Renault Sport Formula One Team previews the twentieth race weekend of the 2016 Formula 1 season, the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Drivers Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen share their thoughts on the challenges of the Autodromo Carlos Pace while our management and technical staff give the latest on the team and on the R.S.16-R.E.16 package.
2016 FORMULA 1 BRAZILIAN GRAND PRIX, PREVIEW
Brazil is the penultimate race in our first season as a full factory entry in Formula 1. As many in the paddock ask at this time of year, where did all the season go?
Mexico was another fabulous event with strong passions displayed on track and off. In terms of our performance it was a weekend of mixed emotions. The potential was there, as we saw from Kevin’s strong qualifying performance and Jolyon’s strong race from the back of the field. There was also frustration too; Kevin’s race was more muted and Jolyon missing qualifying was never part of the plan! As always, we’re investigating these areas so we learn and make progress from them.
Brazil is a tremendously important country for Renault; historically it’s our second biggest market in the world. We have a significant factory in Curitiba where over 4000 people are employed. The facility is named the Ayrton Senna Complex and sees the production of Logan, Sandero, Duster, Oroch, Mégane II and Master III models. Significantly for Renault Sport, the Sandero RS was designed for Latin America and is helping to establish our performance arm in this crucial region.
Globally, sales of Renault Sport cars have increased by 30% over the past twelve months with the new Mégane GT and Twingo GT both proving to be big successes, especially in Europe. This is great news for the Renault Sport brand and it motivates us all to push harder still in our motorsport programme.
For Brazil, as ever, we want to see both cars in the points to cement our progress. There’s much more to come for 2017, but we still want to end this first season in the best way possible.
Cyril Abiteboul, managing director
Making the absolute most of what we’ve got is Team Principal Fred Vasseur’s target for the penultimate race of the season.
What do you expect from the next race in Brazil?
We are seeing for a while now that we have made a step up in terms of performance regardless of the circuit we are visiting, so that is encouraging. We are seeing that the gaps in the midfield are getting smaller all the time and it’s up to us now to put it all together in terms of set-up, tyre management, and extract everything possible from the potential of the car.
What do you want to see from the last two races of the year?
I expect further progress on track as we continue to extract the maximum from the R.S.16. There are still areas that we can work on to improve the overall team performance whether it is pit stops, set-up work or tyre management. I know that the team is completely focussed on that and it’s good to see their motivation.
The 2017 wheels and tyres are considerably bigger than the current ones: aside from performance, what are the implications for the team?
It’s true that it will require a bit of a different set-up! The crew will certainly have to focus their training in this area as the tyres will be heavier and we’ll also need different equipment ranging from racks to tyre blankets. We will need to conduct a lot of pit stop practice – as we always do – as the rear tyres are significantly wider as well as heavier. It’s going to take some time to adapt, but that is always part of the challenge of Formula 1. We’ll pay a considerable amount of attention to this before the first race of 2017.
What’s the plan for the off-season?
2017 is a big challenge: we have a new technical challenge with the changed regulations and it will be the first car we produce under our new regime. There is a real excitement about the new car and the factory has some very busy months ahead producing it. There is a big unknown for next year as everyone is creating their new cars in isolation and we won’t know how we compare until we hit the track at the first test in Barcelona. That is part of the excitement in this industry. We can’t wait to be out on track for the first day of testing to get a feel of where we are at. But, until then, we have the two final races of 2016 and, rest assured, we’ll push all the way on track in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
Lucky number 20
As the Formula One calendar enters into its 20th race, our number 20 gives his thoughts on the prestigious Interlagos circuit.
What do you make of the historic Brazilian Grand Prix?
Brazil is a legendary weekend. It’s got so much about it, many of my idols have raced at Interlagos in the past. In my childhood it was always the last race so it had that championship presiding feeling about it. I think it’s unfortunate that it’s not the last race anymore as it feels like it should be but it’s still a fantastic weekend nonetheless.
How do you find the anticlockwise Interlagos circuit itself?
I know a lot about the circuit and it’s one of those famous places that’s so ingrained in Formula 1 history. It’s a short lap, it has a go-kart feeling to it as you are having to turn all the time and it flows quite nicely. Interlagos, like Austin, is one of only a few circuits that run anti-clockwise, so it’s cool that these two races are close together on the calendar.
What sort of mind set do you approach it with?
From the first corner onwards, it’s a really exciting circuit and there are quite a few overtaking opportunities, especially in the first sector. It’s a real driver’s track and pretty bumpy all the way round, so set up will be crucial to getting the most out of a lap. The South American fans love their Formula 1 too, so I’m excited about getting out there. But, as a driver, Brazil is another race and we’ll give everything we have to come away with a decent result for the team.
It must be quite special to walk down the Senna esses!
The first time you go there it’s a really cool experience as you’ve seen it on television so many times and watched the films of the likes of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. It has a lot of history and that makes it a very special weekend. It’s one of those unique places which makes it a good experience to race.
The Brazilians are known for their carnival atmosphere; do you notice that from the cockpit?
They are very patriotic and always cheering for the drivers, especially for Massa or the other Brazilians. It’s like that everywhere you go, though. Mexico was good for that too, both countries are very cheerful so that makes it very fun to go to and enjoy.
Jolyon Palmer is aiming for a positive end to the season and hopes a fast, sweeping Interlagos track can propel him into the points.
You had a solid race in Mexico, does that put you in good stead for Brazil?
I’m feeling good for Brazil as it should just carry on the good momentum that we’ve had in the second half the year. It was a shame not to qualify last time out as we could have shown even better improvement. One of my best grid spots was in prospect, but we made up for it in the race. The race pace has been good for a long time now, qualifying pace has been good too. We had some decent battles with the McLarens in Mexico, so I think we can be pretty confident going into Brazil.
So Interlagos shouldn’t present any difficulties?
The car is getting better every round still, and I’m driving pretty well and getting more and more out of it, so I think that combined with the fact Brazil is a nice track, means I’m hopeful for a positive weekend.
What do you think of the track?
I did FP1 there last season. I was quite new to the car but I actually really enjoyed it. It’s an interesting layout and I was pretty competitive. It’s a legendary circuit which has a fantastic atmosphere. It’s anticlockwise so you have a lot of fast left-handers which we’re not so used to! I quite like turn one and two, the Senna esses, it’s a good combination of corners. It’s good for overtaking but also easy to lock-up at the end of that straight heading into the downhill left-hander. The inside wheel is particularly unweighted as you’re braking and starting your turn-in, because of the camber of the corner. If you get it right here, you can have a decent advantage against a rival. There have been many interesting races here in the past, I remember Hamilton winning the title at the last corner and the 2012 race as well, where Vettel won too.
There are two races left, what do you hope to achieve from them?
The season has gone so quickly. We just have to give it our all. I’d love to get another points finish before the year is out, so I will be pushing for that all the way for the final two races.
Is there anything in Sao Paolo that you’d like to see or do?
I didn’t see so much of the city last year, but I like Brazil, the main thing is the passion of the crowd they always seem to bring a good, party vibe. It’s also renowned for its food and drink. I’ll probably grab some steak, especially after the race!
Tight and twisty, yet with a whopping long straight, it’s not just the unpredictable weather which gives the engineers something to think about in Interlagos, explains Technical Director Nick Chester.
What’s notable about the Autódromo José Carlos Pace?
It’s an anticlockwise clockwise circuit with varying gradient and situated at quite high altitude, but not as extreme as Mexico. São Paulo is around 800 metres above sea level whereas Mexico City was over 2000, so you lose a little bit of downforce, but nothing compared to the last race. It is quite a challenging circuit to set up for because of the contrasting needs of the twisty infield and the long straight. We would like to run maximum downforce for more grip in the twisty bits, but you need to be as drag-free as possible to maximise your speed on the long straight.
What’s the circuit like on the tyres?
It’s hard to generate grip at Interlagos so it won’t be too easy on the tyres. We will have the Pirelli soft, medium and hard compounds available but we don’t expect to see too much use of the hards. The track is bumpier than some of the smooth circuits we have visited recently so this will affect our mechanical set-up.
What type of work can still be done on the cars at this stage of the season?
Whilst most of the focus is now on 2017, we carry on doing more work on tyre management, as all teams do. It’s still a challenge as they are tricky beasts to get working in the right range so there’s more we can do and learn. We also continue work on set-ups and set-up experiments. We’ll carry on with those as they generate data that we will be able to use next year.
How would you sum up the Mexico race?
Jolyon drove a good race going from the back of the grid to fourteenth place with a huge stint on the medium set of tyres. He did his pit stop on lap 1 and did 69 laps thereafter on the same set. He put up a good fight against the McLarens, even if in the end he couldn’t quite keep them behind. For Kevin, it was a trickier race. He had a pretty good start and had a good stint on the soft tyres. At the pit stop, we put the medium set on the car and he lost a bit of pace. For his last stint he was on the super softs and he did enough to get ahead of the Haas cars and the Toro Rossos. His feedback was that he wasn’t happy with the balance of the car and it looks like he’d lost some downforce at the rear which we are investigating ahead of Brazil.
There are only two races left of the season, what are your thoughts going into them?
We have proved that we are able to capitalise on any given opportunity during the races so our aim is to continue to do that and finish the final two Grands Prix in the points.
T1: A tricky downhill turn at the end of a long straight, the nature of the first corner makes it easy for drivers to out-brake themselves. Turn 1 is the hardest stop of the circuit as the cars arrive at over 330kph and drop to just 110kph on entry.
T2: It’s important to get a good exit from Turn 1; carrying the momentum on through Turn 2 into the high speed Turn 3 and subsequently to the first DRS straight.
T4: The first DRS zone along the back straight presents a good overtaking opportunity heading into Turn 4, which along with Turns 5, 6 and 7 is quite high speed before entering in to the lower speed Turn 8. From T2 to the entry for T6 the driver is at full throttle for 17 secs, with just a dab on the brakes through Turn 4.
The MGU-K can recover energy through the short corners, notably Turn 1, 8 and 10.
T8: Flat kerbs through the low speed Turns 8 and 10 allow drivers a degree of freedom in their apex point.
T12: Turn 12 is crucial for a quick lap, with exit speed defining how fast you can charge up the hill and along the start / finish straight. The ICE will be straining on the edge of its power as the elevation change is just shy of 40m from the exit of Turn 12 to the braking point of Turn 1.
Start-finish: A second DRS zone – running for 500m along the start/finish straight – boosts what is already a good spot for overtaking.
Power Unit notes
Interlagos sits in the upper bracket for ICE difficulty. The circuit may be short, but the long, uphill pit straight takes up a considerable percentage of the lap. The driver will be at full pedal travel for around 15secs, around 25% distance, or 20% of the overall lap time.
Interlagos sits 800m above sea level. Until the Mexican GP it was the highest race of the year by a long way, but now seems low by comparison to the giddy heights of Mexico City! The turbo will be spinning at a much higher speed to generate the same power as a sea level event, rotating at very close to its maximum. But, having worked reliably at the 2,200m Mexican GP, Interlagos is no longer the sternest test of the year.
Due to the long periods of full throttle, the MGU-H has ample opportunity to recover lost exhaust energy. However, energy recovery is not necessarily critical as fuel consumption is relatively low due to the high altitude and lower air density.
Hard: Like the Brazilian soft drink made from the Guaraná fruit – whose seeds contain about twice the concentration of caffeine found in coffee seeds – the hard compound should allow drivers to keep going on, and on, and on.
Medium: Like Caipirinha, the medium compound is expected to be a stable diet for many over the course of the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend.
Soft: Like Açaí Juice, the soft tyre should have magical qualities around Interlagos circuit, allowing for great energy deployment.
The Brazilian Grand Prix always seems to provide thrilling races. A mix of unpredictable and sudden weather changes as well as its relatively high altitude makes it one of the more dramatic races on the Formula 1 calendar.
There was no exception to the drama in the 1980 race where Renault, in their third year of being on the grid, took their second Formula 1 win.
French driver Jean-Pierre Jabouille qualified on pole with teammate and compatriot Rene Arnoux in P6 for the race with the high altitude playing into the hands of Renault’s turbocharged duo as the less-dense air affected the power outputs of their rival’s naturally aspirated engines far more.
The pair led for most of the race, but a turbo failure for the pole-sitter on lap 25 left Arnoux clear to storm home for his maiden F1 victory and Renault’s second as a team. Arnoux was particularly lucky however, as he ran out of fuel and had to stop on his slowing-down lap!
Brazil is the 5th largest country in the world with a population of 209.5 million people.
In 1959, Cacareco, a five year old female rhinoceros, stood as a candidate in the Sao Paolo council elections. And not only did she win, she still has one of the highest number of votes for a local candidate in Brazil, amassing 100,000 votes, 15% of the total. She died in 1962, but has left a strong legacy in Brazil.
The Estadio Milton Correa, a 10,000 seat football stadium, has its halfway line exactly on the equator meaning each team has to defend a hemisphere. The ground is also known as “Zero” (zero latitude), and was formerly named after the late great Aryton Senna.
A small prison in the state of Minas Gerais allows prisoners to pedal on stationary bicycles to generate electricity for the local city. And in return inmates are given reduced sentences for their hard work.
Renault Sport Academy
The Mexican GP weekend was also busy and successful for two of the Renault Academy drivers; Louis Delétraz took the lead in the Formula v8 3.5 championship with Jack Aitken securing two impressive front row starts in qualifying at the penultimate round of the series in Jerez. Jack made his debut in the event as he prepares for the final round of the GP3 championship in Abu Dhabi on 26th-27th November. Louis passed rival Tom Dillmann to take top spot in the overall standings with the showdown in Barcelona on the 5th-6th November promising to be spectacular.
Jack Aitken: Jack had a memorable weekend on his Formula v8 3.5 debut in Jerez as he stormed to pole position in the opening qualifying session. He also put his RP Motorsport car in P2 for qualifying two and finished fifth in that race. Jack heads to the final round of the GP3 championship in Abu Dhabi in three weeks’ time where he’ll be looking to chase down the four-point deficit to Arden teammate Jake Dennis and surpass his compatriot to fourth in the overall standings.
Louis Delétraz: Louis took the lead in the championship from Tom Dillmann for the first time this season after a rollercoaster weekend in Spain for the Swiss driver. In the second qualifying session, Louis pipped Jack by 0.003 of a second for pole position as the two Renault Academy drivers battled out an intriguing session. Louis suffered a penalty in race one which put him out of the points, but managed to put that behind him to secure a podium finish in the second outing to leapfrog Dillmann in the standings ahead of the final round in Barcelona.
Sun Yue Yang: Sunny endured a four-day training schedule at the Human Performance centre in Enstone last week as he prepared for his Formula Renault 2.0 test at the Nurburgring in Germany on the 3rd-4th November.