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The King's Track Guide : Autódromo José Carlos Pace
The 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix The 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix, Sun 13 Nov 2016
Circuit : Autódromo José Carlos Pace, located in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Full Lap distance 4.309km, installation lap distance 4.24km
Lap Record 13m 40s set by Magda Silva, set in 2013

Measuring up officially at only 4.309km / 2.676mi, the Autódromo José Carlos Pace - or Interlagos, as it is still commonly known - is the second shortest F1 lap on the current calendar, and the shortest Runthattrack event, as the shortest - Monaco - is officially non-championship. Those hoping that the season finale in Brazil will be a quick easy blast to end the season will be disappointed to discover that what the track lacks in distance it more than makes up with elevation changes - undoubtedly this is one of the hilliest tracks of the year. Throw in some oxygen sapping altitude and you have one of the most formidable laps - especially when attempting to run it fast.

Challenge number one at Interlagos is making it to the start line - the pit wall is high and the pit lane entries and exits are some way away (the exit takes you all the way to turn three). Those who don’t want to test their straddling skills over the armco and don’t mind a short warm up should make their way down the pit lane entry. Those who want the quickest route to the start line and don’t mind testing their rock climbing will be pleased to know that adjacent to the podium are some steps built into the pit lane wall for easy access.

From the start line the track gently rises for just a short distance before levelling off and slightly descending approaching the Senna Esses. The high pit walls and the imposing high grandstands opposite the pits imbue a unique atmosphere - even when they are devoid of spectators. Through the first part of the Esses the track plunges downhill through the right hander and into a long turn three. The track is still descending here although the gradient is very gentle as you exit the corner and head onto the back straight. Spurred on by the competition at last year’s Runthattrack group run, I found myself flying along uncommonly quickly, aided by the favourable gradient and presumably the slightly thinner air. All the while though I was mindful that the good times end fairly abruptly at this circuit and so needed to keep just a little in reserve for the second half of the lap, which will undoubtedly be run a good deal slower.

The circuit continues to drop downhill through the left hand turn four at the end of the straight and through the long sweeping turn five. Then the track levels and begins to climb. The ascent doesn’t appear too severe but long before you reach turn five your legs will probably feel like they are running through treacle and the heart will want to be pumping out of your skin. As mentioned earlier the likely reason for this climb feeling much harder than it should is because the circuit is at over 800 metres above sea level which, for those who normally reside at much lower levels, means the air is a little less oxygen rich than we are used to. Be thankful though F1 doesn’t currently race at Mexico City - here the altitude is over 2000m above sea level which has a distinctly unpleasant effect on the body’s ability to exercise efficiently.

The track climbs through the long sweeping right hand turns six and seven before flattening out shortly before the tight right hand turn eight. There is the slightest of respites as the track dips slightly before the long left hander Pinheirinho at turn nine sees you climbing again up the short kinked straight and into the hairpin at turn ten. Through the left hand Mergulho the track descends quite sharply and it is important to try and recover as much energy as possible, for the toughest challenge of the lap lays just ahead.

The track rises gently as you approach and then turn left through Juncao - the last corner of significance on the circuit before the track gently curves left back to the start line. Exiting Juncao the track climbs steeply - the worst of the gradient continuing until you pass under the first of the track covering hoardings where the circuit kinks to the left. This section of track is no more than a few hundred metres long but I have never been able to complete it without feeling the overwhelming urge to stop and walk.

The gently curving run to the finish flattens out and even descends slightly before a slight ramp to the finish, the chances are though your legs are so wearied from the efforts beforehand that the downhill is barely noticeable and it feels uphill all the way to the finish. Even the heavily cambered almost banked corner approaching the pit lane entrance feels like a challenge to tackle - the circuit feels like it is pulling you into the pits.

The weather in Sao Paulo is notoriously fickle - if it is sunny, warm and humid this track is a beast to run. Even in favourable conditions I rank this highly in the hardest circuits of the year to tackle. Thankfully for Runthattrack competitors who have tackled all the previous circuits over the circuit, their bodies, albeit tired and in need of a good post-season recovery, should be fit enough to leave it all on the track one last time at the upcoming Group Run.

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A very special thanks to Matthew Kingston-Lee for this feature. Matthew (better known as MKL) is a twice RTT World Champion and all round nice guy. Since 2012 Matthew has been providing a invaluable track by track runners guide for each of the F1 tracks.

If you'd like to provide some feedback on this guide, or maybe suggest some changes or additions, please get in contact here.