What have been the 5 best races at Interlagos?
Was it Alonso’s crowning glory in 2005, the year where Raikkonen fortified his defenses with an icy-cool demeanor in 2007, the reign of Montoya starting 2004-05, or was it the display of Senna’s doggedness in 1991 and 1993?
Have you ever wondered as to what might the meaning of the term Interlagos be? If you were to run a Portuguese translation, you’d find it means the land of the lakes.
It’s just that during the month of November- unfailingly every year- the lakes are set on fire, by the trepidation and charisma that only Formula 1 cars can provide, 20 of them.
This year too, the F1 caravan is all set to arrive at among the most popular tracks on the roster. It’s just that a score has been settled; a world championship has been won. But in spite of the most valuable prize having been already bagged, there’s everything in it for the likes of Hamilton, Ricciardo and, even Sebastian Vettel to challenge one another.
While Hamilton would want to continue his winning mantra, Vettel would want to prove to his detractors that he can still win despite having Lewis cross his heart with the championship crown while the likes of Ricciardo, if at all the disgruntled Aussie races, wishing to end on a high with only Abu Dhabi to go.
At the same time, the likes of Bottas and Raikkonen would be vying for the top draws, the Mercedes driver still searching for his first win of the season. That being said, let’s not forget that Interlagos has been the lair of some of the finest races held in the history of the competition.
Which are those contests? What would be your pick among the best races at Interlagos, say if you were asked to draw a list, speaking of which, here are ours:
Senna triumphs in 1991, 1993
Among the best races ever to be held at Interlagos was the Brazilian Grand Prix held in 1991 as well as the one held in 1993 for one simple reason. It was Ayrton Senna at the top of the podium in a manner every bit dogged and consistent as his race craft.
To win a Grand Prix is special. But to win a contest in front of one’s home crowds is a feeling that cannot be described even in the best metaphors.
Senna’s win of 1993, in front of home crowds, was every bit special as it would be his last win at Brazil, months after which he’d leave for the heavenly abode following the tragic events at Imola, San Marino Grand Prix.
But in 1993, amid inclement weather, as Senna reached for the top, it wasn’t before his arch-rival, Alain Prost was caught up in the flashing thunderstorms that left the circuit splashed in wet weather. To make his win even more exciting was the fact that the Brazilian was able to fend off Ricardo Patrese, fast catching the famous McLaren.
And to mark his best-ever season in F1 with a resounding win, Senna produced a great effort with a bit of an ease that often reflected his race craft when he was challenged by rains and uncertain weather.
Hamilton wins a thrilling championship as Massa despairs, 2008
The 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix was a showdown, as Wikipedia quotes, as improbable that even Hollywood would’ve made a film out of it.
Maybe, here’s why?
There was nothing that Massa did wrong in his Ferrari in 2008 at Brazil. He clinched the pole, set the fastest lap of the race, and even won. Just that, he wasn’t still able to win the world title in the season-concluding event.
To win a world championship is the greatest box one wishes to tick as a racing driver. Not that he was certain of it when Lewis Hamilton, now a five-time world champion arrived at Interlagos, a decade ago.
In claiming a world championship quite literally out of the fangs of defeat, Lewis, in securing a P5 ensured that he’d better Massa by a dainty margin of 1 point. In so doing, he ensured that despite starting fourth, an event post which he’d drop down the order following rain immediately after which he’d mount a famous climb up the order.
Fernando exults in 2005
One of the most enjoyable sights in the realm of F1 is that of Fernando Alonso winning a race. It’s a sight so regale and arresting in its conception that it seems worthy of drawing comparisons with that of a lion roaring in the wild.
For the Spaniard, the 2005 Brazilian Grand Prix was a spectacle so special that it carved his standing among the legends of the sport given that his world championship moment arrived at Senna land, a surface on which the legends prevail. Vettel, Hamilton, Raikkonen have all won their crowns here at Brazil in the past. That Alonso’s name also belongs to that special list constructs the four in a bracket of undeniable greats of the sport.
Here’s a perspective.
That Alonso clinched the championship by garnering a third at Interlagos sealed the fate of the title in his favour wasn’t the only thing worth celebrating. That he beat McLaren’s Kimi, Alonso’s current team in his retiring year, by a margin of 21 points proved his prowess in a season where he bagged 7 wins, including a hat-trick of wins at Malaysia, Bahrain, and San Marino.
Interestingly, Kimi was right alongside Alonso in his the latter’s big moment having emerged better than him, on second, at Interlagos in 2005.
Hakinnen becomes back to back winner, 1998-99
One of the most respected names in the sport, Mika Hakkinen is among the few drivers to have won at Interlagos consecutively, a feat not even matched by the great Ayrton Senna.
Having said that, one of the best ever races at Interlaogs was witnessed in 1999, with the rivalry between Schumacher, then in a Ferrari, and Hakkinen, in his McLaren raising the bar of the contest by a several few notches.
Having also won a year earlier, the Finn would clinch the victory in 1999, showcasing a signature “Hakkinen-style” move over Michael Schumacher- imagine the stakes involved- and would also be assisted by a fast pit stop.
Max Verstappen proves his mettle in 2016
In 2016, a season where Rosberg denied Hamilton the championship by displaying great courage, there was another driver much younger to the duo, who was driving in only his second season in F1 but had arrested everyone’s attention, given his courage under pressure.
Usually, drivers are challenged when they encounter rain, but only a few special talents extract the best from their craft, as did Verstappen in scripting one of the best races at Interlagos in his rain-affected 2016 drive.
Verstappen proved he’s no ‘Crashstappen’ as he’s referred to by critics given his most famous drive in his career.
In fact, “Mad Max” given the thrilling fashion in which he’d climb to the third place on the podium, made a hell lot many places having started fourth and falling down to the back of the grid after he’d spin on the main straights.
In giving evidence of nerves of steel, Verstappen cleanly passed the more experienced Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel, later in the race at the Juncao corner, before finally passing Nico Rosberg in the dying moments of the race. For an effort so rare and surreal in the annals of the sport, Max’s incredible P3 prompted Christian Horner to say, “This was one of the best drives I’ve ever seen in F1.”