It’s become something of a home race for Scuderia Ferrari. From 2000 to today, with the exception of 2009, the Brazilian Grand Prix has featured a Brazilian driver at the wheel of a Prancing Horse car. From 2000 to 2005, it was Rubens Barrichello who faced the task of defending Ferrari colours and from the following year onwards the honour and duty has been in the hands of Felipe Massa. The latter has definitely enjoyed more success here than his predecessor and friend: twice, in 2006 and 2008, Felipe triumphed in Interlagos, as well as making two further trips to the podium in 2007 and 2013, while being fastest on Saturday afternoon three times. Rubens’ results were very different, as he only saw the chequered flag twice, making it to the third step of the podium just the once in 2004, when he took a second consecutive pole position at his home track. The Brazilian suffered an incredible series of technical failures in the race that meant the most to him: the most resounding one was the problem with the fuel metre which saw him run out of fuel in the F2003-GA when he was leading the race by a comfortable margin.
Interlagos was also the scene of one the nicest and most exciting wins in the history of the Scuderia. In 2007, the one-two finish from Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa saw the Finn take the world title, which just two races earlier looked almost impossible, given that Hamilton had a 17 point lead over him. That day there were mighty celebrations in the Red garage for what is currently its last win in the Drivers’ Championship.
Seven Ferrari drivers have won this Grand Prix. Apart from the previously mentioned Massa and Raikkonen, in reverse chronological order they are Michael Schumacher (2000 and 2002), Alain Prost (1990), Nigel Mansell (1989), Carlos Reutemann (1977 and 1978) and Niki Lauda (1976.) There have been a total of 26 podium finishes: along with the ten wins there have been seven seconds and nine third places. Seven is also the number of poles, of which five go to the Maranello Brazilians – three for Massa, two for Barrichello – with the other two being down to Schumacher in 2000 and Alboreto in 1985.
The Brazilian Grand Prix is one of the few races in which victory has eluded Fernando Alonso. The man from Oviedo has however been on the podium seven times, with three second places and four thirds, from eleven starts in this race, but more importantly, he clinched both his title crowns here. In 2005, Fernando finished third right behind Raikkonen’s McLaren, his rival for that year’s title, thus becoming champion with two races in hand. The following year, he had to wait for the final race to get the better of Schumacher. In Interlagos, the Spaniard was second behind Felipe, controlling Michael’s spectacular climb back up the order, as he went from last to fourth in the race that marked his first farewell to Formula 1.
We are now preparing for another farewell, that of Felipe Massa who leaves Ferrari after this race. This weekend sees the Brazilian take part in his 139th and final race of his romance in red: only Michael Schumacher has taken part in more. The wins are fixed at eleven for now, the last one coming right at Interlagos back in 2008: it would be the realisation of a dream to turn that into a twelve this weekend. Almost impossible according to this season’s statistics, in which Vettel’s Red Bull seems to have become unbeatable and Ferrari seems to be struggling more and more. However, Formula 1 is a sport and, as such, open to surprises, even the most unimaginable ones. Why not dream of such a beautiful finale for a driver who, without a doubt, is part of the Prancing Horse’s history.