Emotion, Breakdowns and Sixth Gear: Brazil’s Home Heroe’s

Brazil has had 31 drivers since 1950 and 3 world champions but Brazilians have had a love hate relationship with their home race, we take a look at some of the most iconic moments at the Brazil GP.

Early Home Advantage:

1975 Brazilian Grand Prix - Carlos Pace
Carlos Pace took his only victory at home in 1975. Copyright: LAT Images

The very first Brazilian Grand Prix World Championship race was held in 1973 at Sao Paulo, Emerson Fittipaldi beat teammate Ronnie Peterson to win his very first home Grand Prix. Fittipaldi would again repeat this the following year after another battle with Peterson who would eventually suffer a puncture caused by broken glass on the circuit courtesy of over exuberant fans.

1975 would see the double world champion finish 2nd however as another home hero emerged; Carlos Pace. It would be the only victory that the Brazilian would take after Jean-Pierre Jarier’s Shadow retired from the lead. After 3 Brazilian Grand Prix’s only a Brazilian had taken the top step but would the have to wait another 10 years before Nelson Piquet ensured the Brazilians would hear their national anthem.

Sixth Gear Tension:

@Norio KoikeASE.jpg
After 8 attempts Senna took victory in front of his home crowd. Copyright: Norio KoikeASE

1986 served as Senna’s first real shot at winning his home race, he led from pole position fending off Nigel Mansell but would later struggle with pace and ultimately finish 2nd behind fellow countryman Nelson Piquet. Senna would once again battle for the lead in 1987 but again beaten by Piquet in the early stages of the race before suffering an engine failure ending his hopes of winning at home.

1988 was the first season where Senna had a car capable of winning a title and also meant he had his best chance of winning his home race, Senna dully claimed pole ahead of teammate Prost but suffer a gearbox issue on the parade lap forcing him to swap cars after the green flag was signalled for which he would ultimately be disqualified for. Senna would be beaten from pole yet again in 1989 and again in 1990, Senna had failed to convert 4 pole positions into wins.

Senna would once again start from pole in 1991 and make a break away from the pack, things finally looked to be going his way until he started to lose gears. Mansell on fresher tyres would catch Senna at a rapid rate but would suffer a gearbox failure of his own. Senna would spend the remaining laps in 6th gear with Mansell’s teammate Patrese hunting him down but he managed to finally clinch victory with a lead of just under 3 seconds. Suffering with cramp and fever Senna screamed over his radio and couldn’t believe what he had just achieved much to the jubilation of the home crowd.

Breakdown’s for Barrichello:

@Getty Barichello .jpg
Copyright: Getty Images

Rubens Barrichello would perhaps be the unluckiest at his home event retiring 11 times and claiming just one podium. Rubens would regularly perform well at his home even claiming pole positions and fighting for the podium but would always retire for one reason or the other. He almost claimed his first podium in 1996 but after a poor strategy by his team put him back in fourth he had to fight hard with Michael Schumacher for the last podium position before suffering another home heartbreak.

His biggest heartbreak was in 2003 where after starting from pole he would lose the lead to Coulthard before putting in fastest lap after fastest lap and retaking the lead. He would suffer another mechanical failure due to a fuel system issue, he would claim pole again in 2004 but wouldn’t have the pace to claim the win but he did manage a podium finish and was the first time he saw the chequered flag in Brazil in 10 years.

The 30-Second Champion:

@F1 Massa 08 2.jpg
Copyright: Formula One

Felipe Massa had already claimed victory in Brazil in 2006 but the stakes were high in 2008, Massa had fought a long hard fight with Lewis Hamilton and trailed the Brit heading into his home race.

In a rain-soaked race Massa pulled away from pole position while championship rival Hamilton struggled. The conditions would often change and being on the right tyres at the right time would make all the difference. Hamilton amongst others would make a late stop onto wet tyres but with Hamilton struggling to get his tyres up to temperature he would slip back into 6th place which would mean that Massa would claim the title and be Brazil’s first world champion since Ayrton Senna in 1991. Massa crossed the line to take victory, the crowd sensed he was champion and with Hamilton out of position with a few corners to go the Ferrari garage started celebrations. Timo Glock who was still on slicks was struggling for grip and was ultimately passed by Hamilton on the final corner meaning Hamilton would be champion not Massa.

Massa may not have been crowned champion of F1 but he would win fans all over the world with his passionate and honourable celebration on the podium and struggled to hold back the tears.

The Brazilian Grand Prix has a love hate relationship with it’s home drivers some find success but others often suffer a home Grand Prix curse. Their currently isn’t a Brazilian driver on the grid at the moment but there are many making their way up through junior categories, let’s hope they have better fortunes at their home race than the drivers before them.

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