After skipping 2020 due to Covid-related travel restrictions, Brazil's Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, known to most fans as Interlagos, is once again set to host a Formula One race this weekend.
The circuit, located in Sao Paulo, has previously hosted 37 Brazilian Grands Prix, and the races are always exciting. The circuit's compact layout means there’s generally quite a lot of overtaking, with drivers also having to frequently go off the racing line.
In addition, the non-stop succession of corners keeps drivers working. Apart from the long uphill Arquibancada left-hander, most of those corners are reasonably short, meaning that lateral loads on the tires aren't too punishing. Pirelli has nominated its C2 compound as the P Zero White hard, C3 as the P Zero Yellow medium, and C4 as the P Zero Red soft.
Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, home of the Formula One Brazilian Grand Prix
The weather in Brazil at this time of year can range from intense heat to torrential rain; some grooves have been cut in the asphalt to help drainage in the event of heavy rain. There is currently rain in Sao Paulo but things are expected to dry up for Saturday's qualifying session and Sunday's race, according to the forecast at the time of writing.
The Brazil round will be the last this year to test the new sprint race format for qualifying. The format sees a traditional time-based qualifying session held after a single practice session on Friday to determine the starting grid for a 62-mile sprint race to be held on Saturday. The results of the sprint race then determine the starting grid for Sunday's full-length race. There are also championship points up for grabs in the sprint race: three for first place, two for second and one for third.
Going into the weekend, Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen leads the 2021 Drivers' Championship with 312.5 points. Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes-Benz AMG is second with 293.5 points and fellow Mercedes driver Bottas is third with 185 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Mercedes leads with 478.5 points versus the 477.5 of Red Bull and 268.5 of Ferrari. The previous winner in Brazil was Verstappen driving for Red Bull.