The Autódromo José Carlos Pace, formerly known as Autódromo de Interlagos, is usually the scene of an unpredictable Formula 1 weekend. The changeable weather conditions have helped shape the history of this event, along with the local enthusiasm for the sport. Since moving to the end of the calendar in 2004, the Brazilian Grand Prix has been a title decider for six out of ten races. The South American passion and character only add up to the excitement of this F1 round.
Pit exit - PHOTO : JEAN MICHEL LE MEUR / DPPI for Renault Sport F1
Of all the circuits visited during the year, this is the venue where spectators get to see the cars most often as the race is a massive 71 laps long. Its layout and elevation changes also mean that it is possible to see a significant part, if not most, of the circuit from the various vantage points.
São Paulo, is Brazil's largest city and business centre. It might not be as pretty or charming as Rio de Janeiro but it is rather unashamedly cosmopolitan, partly thanks to its culture scene, excellent restaurants, hip cafes, vibrant nightlife and shopping experiences. It is also the perfect getaway for an extended holiday in this amazing country.
The circuit is located in Interlagos, about 20 km South of São Paulo city centre. The fastest and safest way to reach the track is via public transport.
The neighbourhood of Interlagos doesn't offer much to visitors. There is however lots of activity on Avenida Paulista during the weekend and it probably makes sense to book accommodation nearby, if not Avenida Paulista itself. The journey to the circuit takes about 40 minutes from there.
Take the Metrô at Paulista Station on the Line 4-Yellow (Linha 4-Amarela) and change at Pinheiros Station for the overground CPTM train services. The track is a 600 metre walk from Autódromo Station on Line 9-Emerald (Linha 9-Esmeralda).
If your accommodation is too far away from Paulista Station, use Line 2-Green (Linha 2-Verde) which goes along Avenida Paulista and stop at Consolação. The station is integrated with Paulista through an underground interconnection.
Luxury hotels are ideally located on Line 9-Emerald (Linha 9-Esmeralda) between Berrini and Morumbi stations, which are 4-5 stops away (13 km) from Autódromo Station. Morumbi is the home of the gigantic MorumbiShopping mall and Berrini is a convenient location for anyone flying into town as there is a direct bus from this station to the São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport. Access to night life, in the adjacent district of Moema, is via bus 5154.
Another safe way to the circuit is by taxi (booking though your hotel is recommended). The traffic in São Paulo can be horrendous so expect to be in the car for a couple of hours. The address is Avenida Senador Teotônio Vilela, 261, Interlagos – São Paulo – SP, CEP 04801-010. Be aware that motorists can be a bit aggressive and it is probably best not to hire a car unless you are familiar with the city or country.
View from Grandstand D - Image: MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team
Living costs in São Paulo are similar to most European or North American countries. As one of the fly-away grands prix, booking flights as soon as the World Motor Sport Council ratifies the F1 calendar in December is recommended to reduce the overall costs of the trip.
Return airfares to São Paulo from:
- Austin (1 stop) $1200 / £800 / €1000
- London or Frankfurt (direct) $1400 / £1000 / €1200
- Singapore or Tokyo (1 stop) $2000 / £1300 / €1600
- Sydney (1 stop) $2500 / £1700 / €2000
Four night accommodation from: $800 / £500 / €600 for a double room in a three star hotel on Avenida Paulista.
One-way Metrô and train ticket to/from the track from Paulista Station:: R$7.50 / $4 / £2.50 / €3
The Brazilian Grand Prix is one of the most expensive F1 rounds on the season. The official price list is straight forward as the organisers only sell three day tickets. Those on a budget will regret the lack of general admission, however, as some resellers split packages, it possible to attend the Friday practice sessions for a fraction of the weekend cost.
The prices above have been rounded up to the nearest $100 / £100 / €100 for VIP hospitality and $10 / £10 / €10 for grandstand seating. The exchange rates from xe.com are based on the highest rate since the last Brazilian GP.
Unlike most circuits, it is not possible to walk around the track as there is no common area for spectators to gather. Ticket holders are limited to the sector of their grandstand or hospitality suite, so choose your ticket wisely. The weather in São Paulo is always a bit of an unknown at that time of the year and almost all grandstands are covered, except for the cheaper grandstands A and G. Other criteria will include best overtaking spots, view above the catch fence, TV screens, grid preparations, start/finish, podium celebrations, merchandise areas, etc. It is also worth noting that despite tickets for all grandstands being numbered, very few spectators sit in their allocated seat. Arriving early is recommended to secure a good spot. It might be preferable to purchase a hospitality ticket if this is likely to spoil your experience. We detail all grandstands below in order of price, from the cheapest to the most expensive.
Grandstand G is not covered and open to whatever the meteorological conditions are on the day. The view is very good and spectators can see pretty much all the action from Turn 1 to Turn 14, situated at the start of Grandstand A. In 2012, there was a videowall opposite the grandstand, enabling spectators to follow the race developments. The best photo opportunities are from the top rows at end of the back straight, as it is possible to see the cars unobstructed by the safety fence between Turn 4 and Turn14. Being the less pricey of all grandstands, expect to see the youngest and noisiest crowd there. Be aware that facilities are quite old in this part of the track due for refurbishment in 2015.
Grandstand A is the only other grandstand that is not covered. Cars can practically be followed for most of the circuit except for the Senna S (Turn1 and Turn 2) which is hidden by the pit and hospitality buildings. This is by far the longest grandstand and it features the biggest merchandise area. In 2012, there were only two TV superscreens which could only be seen by about half of the attendance of the grandstand. Spectators nearest to the pit building and Grandstand B will be right by the back of the grid preparations and pit lane entry, whereas those closer to Turn 14 will have a better view of the drivers going through the twisty section of the track between Turn 4 and Turn 14. Whilst unbelievably close to the cars, bear in mind that the nearer you are to the pit building, the faster the cars travel and the more difficult it is to watch them. This is more of a supporters grandstand, which is made of concrete steps, so don't expect to be seated but rather jumping up and down with the rest of the crowd.
View from Grandstand F - PHOTO : JEAN MICHEL LE MEUR / DPPI for Renault Sport F1
Grandstand F is the least expensive of the covered grandstands. It offers fantastic views of the Senna S, unobstructed by the catch fence but unfortunately there are no TV screens and commentary is in Portuguese only. It is located at the end of the pit lane exit so it is possible to keep up with the order of the race by counting the pit stops of each driver if this is your thing. Otherwise, you'll have to rely on mobile internet to keep up to date. It is also a good spot for adrenalin seekers when drivers fight for position when rejoining the track from the pits.
Grandstand M is facing the team garages for pit lane action during the weekend. For a main straight grandstand, it is unconventionally placed between the starting grid and first turn and has limited views of the track due to the pit building opposite. Nonetheless, It features a double videowall and spectators in the top rows will be able to see the cars going through Turn 1 above the safety fence when they've passed the grandstand.
Grandstand V is located at the end of the back straight, past Turn 4. It is a slightly more comfortable grandstand as the ticket price is inclusive of food and drinks and there are multiple TV monitors in the grandstand showing on track action and live timings. Being at the lowest point of the circuit and and a bit further away from the track, this grandstand allows most spectators to view the action above the fence.
Grandstand D is the prime location to watch overtaking moves as most of them tend to happen at Turn 1. This grandstand is quite large and what you see will vary depending on where you are sitting. Views on offer include the start/finish line, pit lane, pit exit, Senna S and Curva do Sol (Turn 3). There are some TV monitors in the grandstand showing on track action and live timings. Spectators in the top rows will able to watch the cars from above the catch fence.
View from Grandstand D - Image: MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team
Grandstand B boasts similar views to Grandstand A except it is:covered, equipped with TV monitors in the grandstand and located opposite a TV superscreen. It is also closer to the pit lane entry, pit lane and the front of the grid. This is probably the best grandstand to pick for the podium celebrations. As per Grandstand V, cold food and drinks are inclusive of the ticket price. Views above the safety fence are very limited, even from the top rows.
Grandstand E is situated between Turn 2 and Turn 3. From there, spectators can follow the cars from Turn 1 to nearly the end of the back straight and It has a videowall located opposite. Here as well, it is possible to see the action mostly above the fence when watching from the top rows. Cold food and drinks are also included in the ticket price.
The Orange Tree Club is the entry level VIP hospitality. Located at Turn 7, the guests can follow the cars between Turn 4 and Turn 14 and the grandstand is equipped with TV monitors showing live feed and timings. The package includes a pit lane walk on Friday and a sandwich bar.
The Interlagos Club hospitality is the next step up and includes a buffet rather than a cold food menu as well as a pit lane visit on both Friday and Saturday. It is situated just after Turn 5 and boasts views of the cars between Turn 5 and Turn 14.
The Terrace Club offers separate bar and lounge, buffet and pit lane walk on all three days. Sandwiched between the Interlagos Club and the Orange Tree Club, it also provides views of the cars between Turn 5 and Turn 14.
The Premium Paddock Club is located on top of the pit garages and offers panoramic views of nearly the full track. Service features are similar to that of the Terrace Club and also include a Champagne bar.
Interlagos and Terrace Club in the background - Photo: Charles Coates/LAT Photographic for Williams F1
The vast majority of people in Brazil are happy and friendly but do speak a great deal of English, so it is a good idea learn some basic Portuguese before going as well as keeping a phrasebook handy.
Circuit gates open to the public at 7 am and close at 2 pm. Once you enter your grandstand, you cannot leave and re-enter, so make sure you have everything you need before going in.
All grandstands and hospitality suites are wheelchair accessible. Accompanying spectators need to purchase their ticket in the same transaction as their reduced mobility friends.
Umbrellas, along with flagpoles, cans, glass, plastic bottles and walking sticks are prohibited. Bearing in mind the weather conditions are changeable, we'd recommend packing a poncho as well as sunscreen. Food and drink stalls are available for all grandstands.
São Paulo has a bit of a reputation as far as crime is concerned, however, this should not deter you from going there. With a bit of common sense and street smarts, you'll be just fine. Avoid the obvious tip-off such as wearing expensive jewellery or watches, don't pull out your phone or camera in crowded areas, no wandering the streets after dark or on your own. Keep your bag closed, and close to you. Robberies at traffic lights is not unheard of either, so keep your windows up and doors locked.
There's a bit of confusion as to the official website. It is gpbrasil.com.br and not gpbrasil.com as wrongly reported in Wikipedia or various travel and F1 forums.
Grandstand A - Image: Marussia F1 Team
gpbrasil.com.br - ticket sales (in Portuguese only) and event information
gpticketshop.com - ticket sales from the Exclusive European Ticket Agent for the Brazilian Grand Prix
metro.sp.gov.br - São Paulo Metrô
cptm.sp.gov.br - train information (in Portuguese only)
cptm.sp.gov.br/E_IMAGES/geral/Mapa_popup.asp - Metropolitan Transport Network map
booking.com - our reliable hotel reservation partner
formula1.com/races/in_detail/brazil_912/circuit_diagram.html - general information and schedule
Finally, we would like to acknowledge the contribution of Chelsea Beckman (follow @chelseabeckman on Twitter - Grandstand B) who was a corporate guest of AkzoNobel, sponsor of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes in 2011.
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