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A lap of Interlagos with Alex Wurz
Aut¢dromo José Carlos Pace in Interlagos
Round eighteen is the final race of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship and takes the Honda Racing F1 Team to Sao Paulo for the Brazilian Grand Prix. The 71-lap race takes place at the atmospheric 4.309km (2.677-mile) Aut¢dromo José Carlos Pace in Interlagos. Alex Wurz takes us for a lap around the track.

Alex Wurz: “Brazil is a great place to end the year because the Brazilians are very passionate about Formula One and they will have a lot to shout about this year with Felipe Massa still in the running for the World Championship.

“The track is a good challenge for the drivers. You are in seventh gear as you cross the start-finish line and you brake for Turn 1 at about 317kph (197mph). This corner is banked and has a blind apex, which makes the braking quite interesting. You can brake very late, which makes it a very good overtaking place.

“You then dive downhill into a right-hander and you’re up into fourth gear by the exit. To help get the car turned in, you need a little lift here and you need to be wary of a bump on the entry, which destabilizes the car. It’s quite a difficult corner and it will be even harder to get right this year without traction control. Turn 3 is a long left-hander, which should be flat.

“You then shoot along the back straight towards Turn 4, where the braking area is very bumpy. You arrive in seventh gear and brake at 90 meters. You can carry a lot of speed around this left-hander if you’re not forcing the car, so you need to be very smooth; just let the car roll through the corner and get onto the power as early as possible. You cannot afford to miss the apex curb because that will slide you wide at the exit.

“Turn 5 is just a kink and you then come up the hill into a double-apex right-hander, Turns 6 and 7. There is a lot of lap time to be had through here because the apex is very long and it’s not easy to get right because there is a crest in the middle which makes the rear of the car go light. You never have a good balance through here and it’s a good challenge.

“You’re then into the slower part of the lap. Turn 8 is a second-gear right-hander, where you go fully over the curbs on the inside. They are quite bumpy, but you have to use them because you gain so much lap time. At the start of the weekend the curb is very slippery and by the end of the race there’s lots of grip, so you have to judge how much rubber is down at any given moment.

‘You then go over another little crest before throwing the car into the apex of the next left-hander. To be quick, you have to turn into the corner quicker than you think is possible, but there’s a compression in the middle of the corner that gives extra grip and turns the car in. It’s a nice corner, especially on low fuel, and you then have a short burst of acceleration towards the hairpin at Turn 10. It’s very slippery under braking here, so it’s easy to lock a front wheel and you have to be disciplined behind the wheel.

“Turn 11 is a flat-out downhill left-hander and you then come to Turn 12, which is the most important corner on the track. It is second or third gear, depending on your ratios, and you carry your exit speed all the way up the hill towards the start-finish straight. You have to brake late, otherwise you lose too much time, but you can’t out-brake yourself because it’s vital that you make a good exit. You can jump the curb on the inside, but not too much because your wheels will be in the air and you’ll lose exit traction.”

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