2015 Brazilian Grand Prix Preview

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Following one of the most vibrant events in Formula 1’s recent history in Mexico, the paddock now ventures to Sao Paulo for the Brazilian Grand Prix where the atmosphere promises to be just as intoxicating.

Lewis Hamilton suffered just his fifth defeat of the season to teammate Nico Rosberg in Mexico as the German driver showed the kind of form that may have allowed him to mount a serious bid for the drivers’ championship had it come about four months earlier.

As a result, we arrive in Brazil with the Mercedes drivers once again going toe-to-toe. The championship may already be decided, but Rosberg will know that some late victories in 2015 will do wonders for his mindset heading into the winter break.

Here is our full preview of the 2015 Brazilian Grand Prix.

2015 Brazilian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Hamilton looks to bounce back from Mexico defeat, Monaco crash

On Wednesday, Lewis Hamilton revealed that he would be arriving in Brazil one day later than planned after coming down with a fever and being involved in a minor road traffic accident in Monaco at the beginning of the week.

The Briton was unhurt and is okay to race in Brazil, but there will undoubtedly be questions about his fitness heading into the weekend. If it presents Rosberg with another opportunity to pounce and claim just his fifth win of the year, the German must grab it with both hands.

Another podium for Felipe?

Felipe Massa will be leading the home charge once again this weekend as he goes in search of a sixth podium finish in Brazil. The nature of the Interlagos circuit should suit Williams better than many of the recent circuits have, and if Ferrari can have another nightmarish race as it did in Mexico, Massa will be a red hot favorite to add to his trophy haul.

In other Brazilian news, Felipe Nasr will be making his first grand prix appearance on home soil this weekend. Since stepping up from GP2 to a full-time F1 seat with Sauber in 2015, Nasr has been quietly impressive, picking up 27 points so far this season, but the opportunity to race at home will surely be a new highpoint for him.

The notoriety of Interlagos

Interlagos has a reputation for the extraordinary. Just yesterday, many on Twitter were discussing the thrilling finale to the 2008 championship when Lewis Hamilton won the title at the final corner. Who can forget 2003 when Giancarlo Fisichella won for Jordan? Or 2012 when Sebastian Vettel fought back to edge Fernando Alonso for the title?

The Brazilian Grand Prix is rarely a dull affair, giving hope to those lower down the order. At at time when there are still many close fights in the constructors’ championship – Lotus and Toro Rosso are separated by just six points; Sauber and McLaren by nine – the penultimate race of the season could give those in need a golden opportunity to impress.

Rossi’s final race of the season

Alexander Rossi will start his fifth and final grand prix of the 2015 season for Manor on Sunday, having made an enormous impression since making his debut back in Singapore. The American driver flew the flag on home soil and has a perfect record against teammate Will Stevens so far, and will want to cap it off with another victory in Brazil.

This should go down as Rossi’s final race for now – all of the noises coming from the American and out of Manor hint at a deal for 2016 being very close, suggesting that this weekend’s race will not be the last we see of him. On the contrary: 2015 was just the beginning for Alexander Rossi.

Defining the future

Despite us now being at the penultimate race of the season, there are still a number of big questions that need to be answered before 2016. Red Bull’s engine saga continues to rumble on, with the latest suggestion being that it will continue with a rebranded Renault engine for next year. However, a deal remains unconfirmed, leaving question marks hanging the future of both Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso.

Lotus’ future is also still unclear. Renault’s buy-out is still in the process of being finalized, but again, no announcement has been made. Manor’s direction is another question that needs to be answered following the resignation of a number of key staff over the lack of investment from team owner Steven Fitzpatrick.

With winter testing just over three months away now, we need answers. And quick.

2015 Brazilian Grand Prix – Facts and Figures

Track: Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, Interlagos
Laps: 71
Corners: 15
Lap Record: Juan Pablo Montoya 1:11.473 (Williams, 2004)
Tire Compounds: Soft (Option); Medium (Prime)
2014 Winner: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
2014 Pole Position: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:10.023
2014 Fastest Lap: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:13.555
DRS Zone: Main Straight (T15 to T1); T3 to T4

2015 Brazilian Grand Prix – TV Times

Free Practice 1: NBC Sports Live Extra 7am ET 11/13
Free Practice 2: NBCSN 11am ET 11/13
Free Practice 3: NBC Sports Live Extra 8am ET 11/14
: CNBC 11am ET 11/14
Race: NBCSN 10:30am ET 11/15

Tony Kanaan at peace with IndyCar career end: ‘I’ll always be an Indianapolis 500 winner’


INDIANAPOLIS – Few drivers in Indy 500 history have been as popular as Tony Kanaan.

Throughout his career at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that began with his first Indy 500 in 2002, the fans loved his aggressiveness on the track and his engaging personality with the fans.

The Brazilian always got the loudest cheers from the fans during driver introductions before the Indy 500.

Sunday’s 107th Indianapolis 500 would be his last time to walk up the steps for driver introductions. Kanaan announced earlier this year that it would be his final race of his IndyCar career, but not the final race as a race driver.

He will continue to compete in stock cars in Brazil and in Tony Stewart’s summer series known as the “Superstar Racing Experience” – an IROC-type series that competes at legendary short tracks around the country beginning in June.

Kanaan was the extra driver at Arrow McLaren for this year’s Indy 500 joining NTT IndyCar Series regulars Pato O’Ward of Mexico, Felix Rosenqvist of Sweden, and Alexander Rossi of northern California.

He had a sporty ride, the No. 66 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet that paid homage to McLaren’s first Indianapolis 500 victory by the late Mark Donohue for Team Penske in 1972.

Because Kanaan has meant so much to the Indianapolis 500 and the NTT IndyCar Series, the 2013 Indy 500 winner was honored before the start of the race with a special video.

It featured Kanaan sitting in the Grandstand A seats writing a love letter to the fans of this great event. Kanaan narrated the video, reciting the words in the letter and it finished with the driver putting it in an envelope and leaving it at the Yard of Bricks.

Lauren Kanaan with daughter Nina before the 107th Indy 500 (Bruce Martin Photo).

Many in the huge crowd of 330,000 fans watched the video on the large screens around the speedway. On the starting grid, Kanaan’s wife, Lauren, who bears a striking resemblance to actress Kate Beckinsale, watched with their four children.

Kanaan’s wife is an Indiana girl who was a high school basketball star in Cambridge City, Indiana.

Kanaan proposed to Lauren in 2010, and after a three-year engagement, they were married in 2013 – the year he won his only Indianapolis 500.

She has been Kanaan’s rock, and this was a moment for the family to share.

After receiving an ovation and the accolades from the crowd, Kanaan walked to his car on the starting grid and exchanged hugs with people who were important in his career.

One of those was Takuma Sato’s engineer at Chip Ganassi Racing, Eric Cowdin.

Tony Kanaan shares a moment with former engineer Eric Cowdin (Bruce Martin Photo).

Kanaan and Cowdin shared a longtime relationship dating all the way back to the Andretti Green Racing days when Kanaan was a series champion in 2004. This combination stayed together when Kanaan moved to KV Racing in 2011, then Chip Ganassi Racing from 2014-2018 followed by two years at AJ Foyt Racing.

Kanaan returned to run the four oval races for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2021 in the No. 48 Honda that was shared with seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.

In 2022, Johnson ran the full IndyCar Series schedule, and Kanaan drove the No. 1 American Legion entry to a third-place finish in his only IndyCar race of the season.

Kanaan knew that 2023 would be his last Indy 500 and properly prepared himself mentally and emotionally for his long goodbye.

But one could sense the heartfelt love, gratitude, and most of all respect for this tenacious driver in the moments leading up to the start of the race.

Tony Kanaan gets emotional during an interview after the Indy 500 (Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar/ USA TODAY Sports Images Network).

“The emotions are just there,” Kanaan said. “I cried 400 times. This guy came to hug me, and I made Rocket (IndyCar Technical Director Kevin Blanch) cry. I mean, that is something.

“Yeah, it was emotional.”

Kanaan started ninth and finished 18th in a race that was very clean for the first two thirds of the race before ending in disjointed fashion with three red flags to stop the race over the final 15 laps.

“Yellows breed yellows and when you are talking about the Indianapolis 500 and a field that is so tough to pass, that happens,” Kanaan said. “It’s the Indy 500. Come on. We’ve got to leave it out there.

“Every red flag, everybody goes, I’m going to pass everybody. It’s tough to pass. It’s the toughest field, the tightest field we ever had here. It was going to happen. We knew it was going to happen.

“I wouldn’t want it any different. We left it all out there. Everybody that was out left it out.”

At one point in the second half of the race, Kanaan passed Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin by driving through the grass on the backstretch.

“That was OK, right?” Kanaan said. “That is one thing I have not done in 22 years here. Even (team owner) Sam Schmidt came to me and said, ‘That was a good one.’

“That was a farewell move.”

On the final lap, it was Kanaan battling his boyhood friend from Brazil, four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, for a mid-pack finish.

“Helio and I battling for 15th and 16th on the last lap like we’re going for the lead,” Kanaan said. “It was like, who’s playing pranks with us.

“We both went side by side on the backstretch after the checker and we saluted with each other, and I just told him actually I dropped a tear because of that, and he said, ‘I did, too.’

“We went side by side like twice. A lot of memories came to my mind, and I even said how ironic it is that we started it together and I get to battle him on the last lap of my last race.

Tony Kanaan is embraced by his wife, Lauren, after finishing 16th in the 107th Indianapolis 500 ((Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar/ USA TODAY Sports Images Network).

“It’s pretty neat. It’s a pretty cool story. He’s a great friend. My reference, a guy that I love and hate a lot throughout my career, and like he just told me — I was coming up here and he just said, who am I going to look on the time sheet when I come into the pits now, because we always said that it didn’t matter if I was — if I was 22nd and he was 23rd, my day was okay. And vice versa.

“It was a good day for me, man. What can I say? We cried on the grid.

“Not the result that we wanted. I went really aggressive on the downforce to start the race. It was wrong. Then I added downforce towards the end of the race, and it was wrong. It was just one of those days.”

After the race was over, Kanaan drove his No. 66 Honda back to the Arrow McLaren pit area and climbed out of the car to cheers of the fans that could see him. Others were focused on Josef Newgarden’s wild celebration after the Team Penske driver had won his first Indianapolis 500.

There were no tears, though, only smiles from Kanaan who closes an IndyCar career with 389 starts, 17 wins including the 2013 Indianapolis 500, 79 podiums, 13 poles, and 4,077 laps led in a 26-year career.

Kanaan came, he raced, and he raced hard.

“That’s what we did, we raced as hard as we could,” Kanaan told NBC Sports.com. “It wasn’t enough.

“The win was the only thing that mattered. If we were second or 16th, we were going to celebrate regardless.

“In a way, being 16th will stop people wondering if I’m going to come back.

“I’m ready to go. I’m ready to enjoy the time with my family, with my team and doing other things as well.”

Kanaan’s face will forever be part of the Borg-Warner Trophy as the winner of the Indianapolis 500.

“I won one and that is there, and it will always be there,” Kanaan said. “It was an awesome day.

“The way this crowd made me feel was unbelievable. I don’t regret a bit.”

Tony Kanaan hugs his son Max before the Indy 500 (Grace Hollars/IndyStar/USA TODAY Sports Images Network).

Kanaan actually announced the 2020 Indianapolis 500 would be TK’s last ride because he wanted to say goodbye to the fans.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 hit, the Indianapolis 500 was moved from Memorial Day Weekend to August 23 and because of COVID restrictions, fans were not allowed to attend the Indianapolis 500.

Three years later, Kanaan was finally able to say goodbye to this fans that were part of the largest crowd to see the Indianapolis 500 since the sold-out gathering for 350,000 that attended the 100th running in 2016.

“That’s it, that’s what I wanted, and I got what I wanted,” Kanaan said. “This moment was so special; I don’t want to ever spoil it again.

Tony Kanaan kisses his daughter Nina before the 107th Indy 500 (Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY Sports Images Network).

“We’ve been building and growing this series as much as we can. I’m really glad and proud that I was able to be part of building something big and this year’s race was one of the biggest ones.”

Kanaan walked off pit lane and rejoined his family. He will always be part of the glorious history of the Indianapolis 500 and fans will be talking about Tony Kanaan years from now, not by what he did, but the way he did it.

“This is what it is all about,” Kanaan said on pit lane. “Having kids, be a good person. Even if you don’t win, it’s fine if you don’t, as long as you make a difference.

“Hopefully, I made a difference in this sport.

“I will always be an IndyCar driver. I will always be an Indy 500 winner and I will always make people aware of IndyCar in the way it deserves.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

(Jenna Watson/IndyStar / USA TODAY Sports Images Network)