Simon’s snapshots #23: The tawdry glory of Interlagos


For many years Silverstone was Bernie Ecclestone’s circuit enemy number one, accused of being a building site (which it wasn’t) while he mentioned nary a word about the dilapidated charm of Interlagos. Faded heritage was permissible in Brazil, apparently less so in the UK.

Despite frequent promises, Interlagos has long remained undeveloped – and that’s why it remains one of the finest venues on the modern Grand Prix schedule. Its brisk sweeps tend to promote good racing, but it’s the setting that gives it an edge. Bereft of razzmatazz or architectural conceits, it has little to divert the attention bar racing cars and a fine layout. Which is just as things should be.

When built in the 1930s, Interlagos was fairly rural – but São Paulo long since expanded and the circuit is now very much part of local suburbia. The adjacent shots underline the city’s proximity, as Vitaly Petrov’s Caterham approaches Juncão – where in 2008 Lewis Hamilton passed Timo Glock to secure his first world title – during the 2012 Brazilian GP weekend. In the second image, also from 2012, Nico Hülkenberg is the one travelling at speed as he passes the dawdling Felipe Massa’s Ferrari on the approach to Turn Eight during practice. The shot was taken at 1/60 of a second and Massa’s presence was a fortuitous coincidence that added to the sense of movement.

From the archive: Nico Hulkenberg on his sports car outing

Shot three shows a burrowing owl, one of many such local inhabitants. They don’t seem particularly nocturnal and have a habit of perching on barrier support posts while cars pass by a few metres away. This one had chosen the more sensible option of a tree by Turn 10, Bico de Pato.

A wonderful venue, then, with en suite nature reserve.

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