ROUND 20 OF 21
It may be one of the shortest tracks on the Formula One calendar, but the 4.3km Autódromo José Carlos Pace presents a number of challenges to teams. It combines a long sweeping start/finish straight with a tricky infield section, so choosing the right setup compromise is paramount. The high altitude (800m) leaves the power units feeling breathless, whilst the bumps and undulations keep the drivers on their toes. The Brazilian crowd always gives their countrymen a raucous reception, especially Felipe, who will be chasing a sixth podium at his home race, and the penultimate grand prix of his Formula One career.
For Brazil, Pirelli have made available the hard, medium and soft tyres.
Pat Symonds
We are expecting very poor weather in the lead up to the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend with a chance of showers on both Saturday and Sunday. We are hoping it will be dry, however we could see a situation similar to 2013 when the first real dry running we had was on race day. Interestingly, Pirelli have gone one step harder than last year, as opposed to going a step softer as normally happens, so we have the hard, medium and soft compounds available; the first time we’ve had that combination since 2013. Generally, we expect a two-stop race irrespective of tyre choice. In qualifying the laptime is very low, probably approaching 70 seconds this year, and so this leads to a very close grid where hundredths of a second really count. As a circuit it is quite sensitive to mechanical grip, more so even than downforce, although good aerodynamic performance counts in the middle sector. Whilst straight-line speed is important for overtaking, the preferred pass into turn one comes largely from getting a good exit from turn twelve.
Valtteri Bottas
First of all, I think this is going to be such a cool race for Felipe as he is retiring and it’s going to be his last home race. I hope we can do well there and that he enjoys the weekend. Last year we did a good race and picked up some decent points. Brazilian fans are also always really passionate about Formula One. There is a nice combination of different types of corners on the track and it’s quite technical. The new tarmac that was laid there a couple of years ago has made it very grippy since, so I really enjoy racing at this track.
Felipe Massa
Interlagos is home. It’s the place that I grew up. It will be emotional racing there for the final time on such an amazing track. I’m looking forward to enjoying every single lap and hopefully I can manage to finish the race with a good result. I have won twice at Interlagos and have finished on the podium many times over the years and I hope we can get another one. It won’t be easy, but I will do everything I can for my people and for Brazil in my last race at home.



Alpine hits the heights with the LMP2 category world title!
  • One round before the end of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), Signatech-Alpine won the LMP2 Teams’ title, whilst Nicolas Lapierre, Stéphane Richelmi and Gustavo Menezes secured the Drivers’ crown*.
  • After four race wins and two other podium-finishes, the no.36 crew secured fourth place at the end of the 6 Hours of Shanghai.
  • Competing alongside Paul-Loup Chatin in the no.35 Baxi DC Racing Alpine, Chinese drivers David Cheng and Ho-Pin Tung finished their home race in eighth position.

Rounding off an exceptional season that saw the team win four races – including the 24 Hours of Le Mans – Signatech-Alpine claimed the LMP2 Category Teams’ and Drivers titles in the FIA World Endurance Championship*.

As emphasized by Michael Van der Sande, Managing Director of Alpine, “securing this world title on the track is a fantastic boost for the teams working on the production model, which is due to go on sale next year.”

Indeed, the brand’s return to racing has been very closely linked to the renaissance of Alpine. In 2013, when the Renault Group announced that intended to design a Berlinette for the 21st century, the Signatech-Alpine entered the European Le Mans Series to support this renewal.

This programme echoed the past successes of Alpine in Endurance racing, notably winning the European Two-litre Sports Car Championship for Makes in 1974 and the victory of Pironi/Jaussaud’s A442B at the 24 Hours of La Mans in 1978.

After two seasons full of panache, which saw Alpine claim two European titles, the team decided to fly the flag for France on the world stage as it entered the FIA WEC. The 2015 season, essentially focused on learning about racing at this level, nonetheless saw the Alpine A450b win its first race at the 6 Hours of Shanghai.

This year, the team’s ambitions were raised a notch with the entry of two new Alpine A460s: in addition to the no.36, the number assigned to Signatech-Alpine since 2013, the second car was entered on behalf of Baxi DC Racing Alpine.

After winning races at Spa-Francorchamps, Le Mans, the Nürburgring and Austin, Alpine had a chance of securing the title this weekend at the 6 Hours of Shanghai.

In qualifying, Nicolas Lapierre and Gustavo Menezes finished second in their no.36 Signatech-Alpine. David Cheng and Ho-Pin Tung were tenth in the no.35 Baxi DC Racing Alpine.

The race got off a dramatic start, with some enthusiastic racing on display at the opening corner. Whilst Nicolas Lapierre grabbed the early lead in the LMP2 class, Ho-Pin Tung only just managed to avoid a collision right in front of him!

In an attempt to save his tyres in the extremely hot conditions, Nicolas made no attempt to hold off Alex Brundle (no.26), who took over as leader after half an hour of the race.

Shortly before the end of his second stint, Ho-Pin Tung was hit by a GT at the end of the long start-finish straight. The Baxi DC Racing driver came into the pits immediately and the team changed the no.35 Alpine A460’s front hood. Paul-Loup Chatin took over behind the wheel, whilst Gustavo Menezes replaced Nicolas Lapierre in the no.36. Both cars were racing on hard rubber, replacing the medium compound tyres used since the start.

Whilst running in third, Gustavo Menezes was shunted into a spin by Bruno Senna (no.43). Fortunately, the Signatech-Alpine car did not suffer any damage and was able to continue racing, whilst its title rival was handed a penalty.

Following Stéphane Richelmi’s double stint, Nicolas Lapierre took over behind the wheel with 1 hr 30 mins to go. Unable to challenge for the race win, the Frenchman matched the pace of the no.43 car. He was cheered across the finishing line in fourth position by the entire team, gathered along the pit wall! The celebrations were shared by the Baxi DC Racing Alpine crew. Ho-Pin Tung, who had taken over from David Cheng, ended his home race in eighth place.

In four seasons, Alpine has quickly beaten a path to the top of the podium. This French success story shows the capacity of Alpine to take on challenges, both on the track and on the road. In a few months’ time, the unveiling of a modern, elegant sports coupé built in France will be another important step in the renewal of the brand. Alpine is back… and this is just the start!



Nico: “Definitely not a bad effort today and the best result we could hope for in regular circumstances. I made a great start, but once the pit stops were out of the way, it turned out to be quite a lonely afternoon for me. This allowed me to manage my tyres and my pace. At the end, the battle with Kimi [Raikkonen] was always going to be difficult, because he had a massive tyre advantage over me: I was surprised we could keep him behind for so long. I tried to defend as hard as I could on the inside, but braking on a dirty line with 60-lap-old tyres is quite tricky! He turned in on me and there was no way I could stop the car, so I forced it into a spin to avoid a crash. In the end, it was a good weekend: qualifying was my highlight and we’ve come away with a solid result today. We leave Mexico having strengthened our fourth place in the constructors’ championship, so there is plenty to smile about.

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MAX VERSTAPPEN, Finish Position: 4th*(3rd)*, Start Position: 3rd  
“When I went off the track towards the end I think it was pretty similar to Lewis on lap one, corner one. He went off and I felt he gained an advantage, I didn’t even gain an advantage, I was ahead going into braking and when I came back on the track I was the same distance in front so I don’t understand the penalty. I think it was a small bit of justice that the stewards made the decision to penalise Seb. It was clearly a wrong move which has been punished according to the rules. As long as we can stick to the rules every week then we won’t have the frustration we felt after the race. I’m really happy for Daniel to get on the podium after a strong drive and it’s a great result for the team. It makes our second position in the Constructors’ Championship that little bit closer and I believe it confirms Daniel as P3 in the Drivers’ Championship. After a bit of stress we end the weekend with smiles all round. I could have done with a few more laps on the supersoft to get me closer to overtaking Nico, but at the end of the day we were always going to struggle to overtake here due to straight line speed. At the end of the day the Mexican fans have been amazing once again, the atmosphere and noise was great.”
*finish position revised following own penalty and penalty for Car 5



Rosberg had looked set to start behind the Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, but a last-gasp effort got him to within a quarter of a second of Hamilton’s pole time.

Verstappen will start third, ahead of Ricciardo.  Both Mercedes and Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel (who qualified seventh) will start the race on the soft tyre, after using it to progress from Q2, while both Red Bulls and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen (sixth) will start on supersofts.

LCH: “I had a great start in Austin on the softs, just as good as the guys on the super-softs,” said Rosberg.

“It’s a long run down to Turn 1 so that should be an advantage for the guy starting second.

“I hope to get a good slipstream off Lewis and try to get first place before Turn 1. It will be possible to get a good tow.”



Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering: It’s quite hard to read today because of the nature of this track, and with everybody struggling to get the tyres to work. Either the fronts weren’t working, or then suddenly they would work and you get oversteer, which we saw from FP1 to FP2 on those running the medium tyres. Overall it’s been a fairly quiet day for us. We completed all of the work we needed to, and I’m reasonably happy with where we are on both low and high fuel. There was quite a lot of graining on the soft and supersoft for everybody, but we seemed pretty good both this morning and this afternoon in having relatively low graining, especially on the front tyres. The focus for tomorrow will be on getting our low fuel set-up right and I’m confident that we have a good direction for that.
Valtteri Bottas: I think it was a good day for us. We definitely still have a lot of work to do with the balance; the track was obviously improving a lot so the feeling of the car gets better and better with every single lap. The long runs seemed to be competitive with the supersoft and the medium, so hopefully we’re looking at a good weekend ahead for us. We still need to make sure that we work hard tonight to make the changes we need to get more performance.
Felipe Massa: It was very difficult to understand the tyres today. The track is just very low grip, but it’s improving every time we go out. You can go out and have no grip, but then suddenly at the end of the run the grip improves. So, I think understanding the tyres this weekend will be very important for the result at the end of the race. I wasn’t happy with the result on the new tyres, but I was happy on the longer runs. We just need to work on understanding everything.

The Premiere Motorsport Podcast